The first small cent was produced because copper prices began to rise and the large cent was costing too much to manufacture. The first design called the “Flying Eagle” had a very short production run and was only produced from 1856-1858. Weighing 4.67 grams and consisting of 12% nickel and 88% copper, prices range from about $1.00 to more than $10.00 depending on the year and condition of the coin.
In 1859, a new design came out called the “Indian Head”. It weighed exactly the same as the previous design and had the same composition of metals in it. In 1864, the composition changed to 5% tin and 95% copper, which actually makes it “bronze”. The weight was reduced to 3.11 grams and it was produced until 1909. The price on these can be as little as 40 cents and go up to more than $20,000 for an 1888 with an 8 stamped over a 7.
If you like this article, then you might enjoy other articles in our archives, such as Give Thanks If You Own A 1920 Pilgrim Half Dollar.
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