Just prior to 1856, the US Mint’s director, James Snowden, proposed a plan to begin producing a much smaller penny. Finally, and after much debate, these coins were authorized to be legal tender by both the House and the Senate. Flying Eagle Pennies were then produced in April of 1857, and set into circulation barely one month later.
It is difficult to determine how many 1856-dated Flying Eagle Cents were struck. At least 634 were given to politicians and other well connected people. During 1858 and 1859, more were restruck using the original dies. Not all restrikes can be differentiated from the original strikes.