Counterfeit 1856 Flying Eagle Cents | New Coin Releases

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Counterfeit Detection: Altered 1856 Flying Eagle Cent

Date alterations are the most common type of counterfeit seen on 1856 Flying Eagle cents.

By 1856 the half cent and large cent denominations had become extremely unpopular. They hardly circulated since their large sizes were simply too cumbersome to be useful in commerce. In addition, their size and 100% copper composition made them expensive to produce and the US Mint barely covered its costs when striking the coins. It was clearly time for a change.

With large cents still being issued, Chief Engraver James B. Longacre created dies for a smaller cent with a flying eagle design in 1856. A total of some 2,000-3,000 pieces of this prototype—or “pattern” in numismatic terminology—were struck. Examples were given to legislators and the public was also able to buy pieces directly from the Mint.

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