The 1856 Flying Eagle cent, a pattern, was made to show Congress how the new cent would look. Additional Proof pieces were struck for sale to collectors. It is believed that between 2,000 and 3,000 pieces were struck in all. These have always been collected along with regular issues because of their early widespread popularity.
Some 1858-dated cents have been deceptively altered to read 1856. They are easy to spot because the shape of the 5 is different on the 1858 than it is on the 1856.
Many varieties are known for 1857 and 1858. In particular, 1858 is found with two major variations. In the Large Letter design, the A and M in AMERICA are joined, while in the Small Letter design they are separated; minor variations of the reverse designs of corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco also appear. The 1858, 8 Over 7 variety can be identified by a small dot in the field above the first 8—during production, the die was ground down until the 7 was invisible. Coins with the 7 showing are more desirable.