The 1856 Flying Eagle cent is a very important coin in American history, as it was very instrumental in popularizing coin collecting throughout America in the late 1800’s.
The 1856 Flying Eagle cents were initially struck as presentation pieces and to introduce them to members of Congress and other dignitaries. Records indicate that at least 634 examples were produced for this purpose alone. However, in the ensuing months, it is believed that additional examples were produced at different intervals, so that they can also be presented to additional government dignitaries.
Furthermore, it is believed that other examples of the 1856 Flying eaglree cents were struck for collectors who were aware of the coins and desired one of their own. These examples eventually made it into circulation. Consequently, some refer to all 1856 cents as patterns, since they were struck primarily for presentation purposes. Others, consider some of the 1856 Flying Eagle cents circulation strike coins, since they were produced in large quantities and were eventually released into circulation. Regardless if some of coins are considered circulation strikes or patterns, the coins are historical relics of American history, as, they attracted some of America's first and most dedicated coin collectors.
It is not known exactly how many 1856 cents were produced, but estimates range anywhere from 1,500 to about 2,150 examples. Whatever the exact figure is, one thing is for certain. There has never been enough coins in existence to meet the high demand. One of the clearest indications of the 1856 Flying Eagle cent's popularity, is the prices they command when they do become available. Even in the lowest grades such as Good-4, most examples will command thousands of dollars and even much more when they remain in higher condition.