From 1793 to 1857, one cent coins were about the size of quarters. During the 1850s,‘ups and downs’ in markets for copper, as a metal, and a growing dislike for large cents spurred support for smaller cents. Copper-nickel Indian cents were minted from 1859 to 1864 before being replaced by coins of the same Indian design that were specified to be 95% copper. For less than $500 per coin, a complete set of ‘mint state’ copper-nickel Indian cents could be completed, without difficulty. Substantially circulated copper-nickel Indian cents may be obtained for much lower amounts, often for less than $20 per coin.
Flying Eagle cents were minted from 1856 to 1858. Although those dated 1856 have been traditionally regarded as patterns, and perhaps are so in a technical-legal sense, they are often collected as regular issues. The law authorizing small cents was not passed until Feb. 1857.