A Counterstamped Flying Eagle Cent

A few years ago I picked up this Flying Eagle cent from a fellow collector. At the time I was working on a circulated set of Indian Head cents and thought I would knock out the copper-nickel dates first. I needed an 1858 Small Letters Flying Eagle but couldn’t find a nice one to match what I had already accumulated. The collection was coming together with the early dates in the Fine to Very Fine range and a friend let me know he had what I was looking for but it had “problems”. He said he’d take $12.00 for it if I was interested.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Flying Eagle design, it was the first small cent design following the Coinage Act of 1857 that abolished the Large Cent. About 1000 were struck in 1856 as presentation pieces and to educate the public who had only seen the copper cent in large format since 1793. The new design, struck in copper-nickel rather than 100% copper, was only struck through 1858 and in 1859 was changed to the familiar Indian Head.

In 1858 two very distinct obverse designs were struck, the “small letters” and “large letters” designs. The different designs are easy to recognize. On the “small letters” obverse, the A and M of AMERICA are clearly separated. On the “large letters” obverse, the A and M are connected, the lower serif on the right leg of the A touching the lower serif on the left leg of the M.

So after having no luck locating a 1858 SL that I liked, I reluctantly had a look at my friend’s “problem” coin. The problem turned out to be the fact that the coin had been counterstamped PAID, once on the obverse and twice on the reverse. I had to have it. I quickly plunked down $12.00 and took my new coin home.

Now you’re probably thinking “Why would you want to include an altered coin in your collection?”. All I will say for now is that, from a historical standpoint, counterstamps can be fascinating. They can also be very enigmatic, the meanings lost over the gulf of years. More on counterstamps and my speculation on this coin in my next post.

Comments

  1. I also have a counterstamped F.E. penny. Mine is a 1857 L.L.
    With J.A.HARPER above the date. I can’t find info about it. But i’ve had it awhile.

  2. JOHN CRANE says:

    IT IS STAMPED WITH THE ABREVIATION FOR PATENTED, NOT PAID.
    A NUMBER OF WHICH SHOW UP IN THE BRUNK COUNERMARKED
    COIN BOOK…..I HOPE YOUR BUBBLE ISN’T BURST….IT’S A NICE FIND.
    J.C.

  3. This cent is in my permanent collection. I have some other counterstamped coins that I’ll be doing future posts on. Thanks for the comment!

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