Having just sold a glorious pair of high-grade No Motto New Orleans eagles, I thought it would be interesting to analyze the complete roster of coins known in MS64 and higher grades. All No Motto eagles are very rare in MS64 and higher grades. Even the common Philadelphia issues which exist by the thousands in circulated and low-end Uncirculated grades are all but unknown in high grades. This is due to a combination of factors: mishandling, use in commerce, melting(s), and lack of collector interest until well into the 20th century.
As of September 2015, here is a complete list of No Motto New Orleans eagles graded MS64 by NGC and PCGS:
*NOTE: Numbers which are italicized represent population figures which I believe to be incorrect.
No Motto New Orleans Eagles Graded MS64 and Higher by NGC
No Motto New Orleans Eagles Graded MS64 and Higher by PCGS
Combined, the two services have grade a total of 22 New Orleans No Motto eagles in higher grades: 18 in MS64, two in MS65, and two in MS66. But as we will see in the date by date analysis below, this number is reduced when resubmissions are factored into the mix.
1843-O: The single high-grade example of this date is ex 2006 ANA: 4313, where it realized a record $58,650. This coin was previously graded MS62 by PCGS ,and it sold for $17,135 in the 1999 ANA auction, as Lot 8081. In all, there are around six to seven known in all Uncirculated grades with the next best being a small group grading MS61.
1845-O: The sole high-grade example of this date is the PCGS/CAC MS64 ex: Bass/Eliasberg/Clapp/Ten Eyck/Cleaney coin which I recently sold (see link above). There are an estimated five or six known in Uncirculated with the second finest being a PCGS MS62, ex Simpson/Hall collections.
1846-O: The sole high- grade 1846-O eagle is the PCGS/CAC MS64 ex: Bass/Eliasberg/Ten Eyck/ Cleaney coin which I also sold recently (see link above). There are four or five known in Uncirculated, with the next best being an NGC MS63 which is also ex Bass/Eliasberg.
The “two” MS64’s at PCGS is not correct; the actual count is one coin. This was also once graded MS64PL by NGC and this coin needs to be removed from the population report.
1847-O: This is the single most available No Motto eagle from New Orleans in Uncirculated with an estimated 15 or so known. However, the 1847-O is extremely rare in high grades with just three known in MS64 (all graded by PCGS) and none finer. The three coins are as follows:
- Simpson/Hall collection, ex Heritage 2/09: 2880, Bowers and Merena 11/00: 626, Harry Bass collection.
- California collection, ex Heritage 2/05: 8735.
- Private collection, ex Heritage 10/95: 6260, Warren Miller collection.
1848-O: With a population of seven high-grade records between the two services, the 1848-O would appear to be, by far, the most available No Motto eagle from New Orleans. It is clearly more available in Uncirculated than its overall rarity would indicate; only 250-300 are known, yet as many as eight to ten exist in Mint State.
It is not easy to make sense of these figures. I believe that there are three PCGS MS64 1848-O eagles known and these are as follows:
- Heritage 1/15: 4335, ex Heritage 1/14: 5487 (as PCGS MS63).
- Bowers and Merena 11/00: 631, ex Harry Bass collection.
- Heritage 10/95: 6264 (as PCGS MS62), ex Warren Miller collection.
The one coin show by NGC as MS64 in the Census is more likely than not a resubmission of one of the three PCGS MS64’s, and it should probably be removed from the Condition Census for this date.
NGC shows one coin in MS65. It is possible that this coin is either #2 or #3 from the list above or—less likely—it is the following coin. If it is formerly a PCGS MS64, then the proper PCGS population is two coins, not three.
The clear finest known 1848-O eagle (and likely the single finest known No Motto eagle from this mint) is the incredible PCGS MS66 1848-O which is ex James Stack (Stack’s 10/94): 1298. This coin also appears on the NGC Census as an MS66 but, as far as I know, it currently resides in a PCGS holder.
1850-O: For many years, this date was unique in Uncirculated (despite a few coins having been graded MS60 at NGC). But a few years ago, a second piece turned up and it was graded MS64 by both PCGS and NGC. The NGC MS64 listing needs to be deleted from the Census.
The PCGS MS65 is owned by Texas collector Bob Simpson and it was sold to him around 2013-2014, via Legend Numismatics, by David Hall Rare Coins. It is ex: Eliasberg/Clapp/Earle and it was the second New Orleans eagle to eclipse the $100,000 mark when it brought $100,625 in May 1999; the first was the aforementioned PCGS MS66 1848-O which sold for $154,000 in October 1994.
1851-O: The 1851-O is the second most available No Motto eagle from New Orleans but it is very rare in Uncirculated with fewer than 10 properly graded pieces known. In the higher Uncirculated grades, it is exceedingly rare with just two known to me. These are as follows; both are graded MS64 by PCGS:
- Private collection, ex Bowers and Merena 11/00:645, Harry Bass collection, Bowers and Ruddy 10/52: 688, Eliasberg collection. Approved by CAC.
- California collection, ex Doug Winter, ca. 2005.
NGC has a record of one coin in MS64. I have never seen it and it is has never come up for sale at auction. I am presuming it is a duplicate listing of one of the two PCGS MS64’s, but I do not know this for certain.
1854-O: The highest example graded by PCGS is an MS63 which I sold to a California collector over a decade ago. NGC shows a record for one coin in MS63 (which I sold to a New England collector in 2011), and for one in MS64. I have never seen or heard of an MS64 example of this variety, but I’m going to assume that this coin does exist.
The NGC Census lists a total of eight high-grade (MS64 and above) New Orleans No Motto eagles as of September 2015 but, in my opinion, the actual number should be just three.
The PCGS Population Report lists a total of 14 high grade New Orleans No Motto eagles as of September 2015 but, in my opinion, the actual number should be reduced to 13.
If these assumptions are correct, there are an estimated 16 different high grade No Motto New Orleans eagles from New Orleans, broken down as follows:
MS64: 13 or 14
MS65: 1 or 2
Clearly, all No Motto eagles are very rare in MS64 and higher grades, but they are especially difficult to find from New Orleans. At least two dates (1841-O and 1857-O) are unknown in any Mint State grade, and many others do not exist above the MS60/61 range.
*Thank you to NGC, who upon reviewing this article, has agreed to remove the 1846-O in 64★PL, the 1848-O in MS64, the 1848-O in MS66, the 1850-O in MS64+, and the 1854-O Large Date in MS64. The NGC census should be updated on or around September 1, 2015.