Due to the expense of producing large cents, in 1850 the mint started experimenting with smaller versions. Many patterns were made of this design in 1856, re-strikes were extensive. Distribution started on May 25, 1857. The motif was discontinued in 1858 from problems with striking. Examples remained in circulation until the early 1900's, survivors were well worn. The heavy wreath on the reverse was opposite in the dies (while in the press) and from the head and tail on the eagle, pieces were weakly struck in these areas. Striking weakness is most noticeable on the tail feathers. However, many flying eagles were quite well struck.
The flying eagle is easy to find, although some varieties such as 1856 and 1858 are scarce and rare. Most are seen in worn grades. In mint state many in the marketplace have been dipped, cleaned and re-colored, eliminate many from consideration of connoisseurs. Cherry picking is the order of the the day here.