History - The coin was designed by James Longacre and was minted from 1856 to 1858. The 1856 Eagle cent was not an authorized mint issue. In 1858, there was a "large letter" and "small letter" variety produced. An easy way to tell the difference between large-letter and small-letter varieties is to look at the word 'America. The A and M in the word AMERICA are joined in the large letter variety and separated in the small letter variety. The most valuable being the 1856 in EF40. I would love to find one of these - thought I did but it turned out to be a canandian penny with a seagull on the back.