James Barton Longacre
Portrait courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery,
By the mid 1850's the cost of producing the familiar "large Cent" was approaching just that-one cent. In addition, the Large Cent saw very limited circulation due to its unpopular bulky size, about the size of today's Half Dollar. In order for the Mint to run profitably, Congress passed the act of February 21, 1857. This allowed for a new modified cent, lower in weight and less costly.
Designed by Chief Engraver James B. Longacre, the first Small Cent depicted a Flying Eagle obverse and a "One Cent" inscription within a wreath on the reverse. The first issues were actually dated 1856 and examples known as "patterns" of this new cent were distributed to members of Congress. These first 1856 Small Cents are highly prized and represent the key to the Small Cent series.
In 1859 the Flying Eagle design was replaced by the Indian Cent obverse, also designed by Longacre. During 1864 the composition and weight of the Small cent was changed to the familiar "bronze" type. Billions of this popular coin were minted until it was replaced by the Lincoln Cent in 1909. It still remains one of the most popular series in all of numismatics.
The Flying Eagle and Indian Cent Society ( The Fly-In Club ) was formed in 1991 with 200 charter members focused in the study of the Flying Eagle and Indian Head cents. Membership has grown to approximately 400, with nearly every state represented.
Our Mission is to gather and disseminate information related to James B. Longacre (1794-1869), with emphasis on his work as Chief Engraver of the mint (1844-1869) with primary focus on his Flying Eagle and Indian Head coinage. We hope by our efforts to foster a fraternal association among members and to enhance the enjoyment of one's numismatic endeavors.