Littleton Coin Company acquires Flying Eagle hoard

Littleton soars into record book
With California Flying Eagle hoard

More than 5,000 Flying Eagle cents, believed to be the largest hoard of them ever accumulated, has been reported by Littleton Coin Company, Littleton, New Hampshire.  The dealership recently purchased 3,671 of the hoard coins, all dated 1857 and 1858, ranging from about good to very fine condition.


They are part of a $200,000 numismatic treasure acquired by Littleton and described by company President David M. Sundman as, "The California Coin Cache."  The purchase involved a total of 8,467 U.S. 18th and 19th century type coins including

    108 Draped Bust, Class and Coronet type half cents

    351 Classic and Coronet type large cents

    507 Copper-Nickel Indian Head cents

    370 two-cent pieces

    2,180 nickel three cent pieces

    314 Liberty Seated dimes

    317 Liberty Seated quarter dollars and

    649 Liberty Seated half dollars


Sundman explained that although the hoard contained more than 5,000 Flying Eagle cents, he did not purchase any that were damaged or cleaned.


"It is mind-boggling to think we bought 3,671 of them in one place at one time.  No doubt, someone has purchased a larger group of them at one time, but I've never heard of it happening," said Sundman.


"We've never purchased so many Flying Eagle cents in one group in the 52 year history of our company!"


The Flying Eagle cents recently were acquired from an anonymous source in California where they had been stored for many years.


Littleton's Chief Coin Buyer, Jim Reardon, said "It will take several weeks to examine each 1858 cent for large and small letter and overdate varieties."


Flying Eagle cents were produced for only three years, 1856, 1857 and 1858.  Mintages were 1,500 (estimated); 17.45 million; and 24.6 million respectively.


According to the reference book, American Coin Treasures and Hoards (Bowers and Merena Galleries, 1997), by Q. David Bowers, the three previously known largest Flying Eagle hoards contained only a fraction of the number of coins that comprise the California Coin Cache:

  • Around the turn of the century, collector George W. Rice of Detroit accumulated 756 pieces all dated 1956;
  • Some of the Rice hoard was acquired in 1911 by collector John A. Beck of Pittsburgh who eventually accumulated 531 of the scarce 1856 Flying Eagle cents before his death in 1924.  The coins were dispersed in the 1970s;
  • And an accumulation of 115 specimens of 1857 and 1858 Flying Eagles were sold by Philadelphia dealer Henry Chapman to collector Floyd Starr of Pennsylvania at an auction in 1929.  These were dispersed over two auctions by Stack's of New York in 1992 and 1993.


This is the third major coin hoard uncovered this year by Littleton.  In April, the company reported the discovery and purchase of two separate hoards of U.S. five-cent denomination coins, 112,000 Buffalo and 40,000 Liberty nickels.


"Obviously, coins are out there and we're looking for them," said Sundman.


For additional information, contact Littleton Coin Company, One Littleton Coin Place, Littleton, NH  03561.  Phone 800-645-3122.