| Flying Eagle Cents|
This short-lived series (just three years) was our first "small" cent. The "large" copper cent had been produced from the beginning of US government coin production starting in 1793. By the 1850's, however, the cost of producing and distributing them exceeded their intrinsic value, and the public was dissatisfied with their size and weight, so a change was ordered by congress in 1856. The new coin would be 27% smaller and 63% lighter as shown in the following specifications.
|Large Cent (Predecessor coin 1793-1857)
- Composition: 100% copper
- Diameter: 26-27 mm
- Weight: 13.48 grams (~34 coins per pound)
|Flying Eagle Cent
- Composition: 88% copper, 12% nickel
- Diameter: 19 mm
- Weight: 4.67 grams (~97 coins per pound)
There were relatively few small cents minted in 1856: they were probably struck to test the minting process and gauge public reaction. In 1857, over 17 million small cents were minted, and in 1858 the number climbed to more than 24 million.