Large Date variety. This is the more available of the two varieties of half eagle made at the Charlotte mint in 1842. The 1842-C Large Date is reasonably available in all grades but it is fairly hard to find an attractive piece with nice surfaces and eye appeal in "collector grades." This example has a good deal of luster and nice light to medium yellow-gold color. There are just enough small abrasions on the surfaces to limit the grade to AU53 but the "body" is suggestive of at least two points higher and I have seen a number of inferior Charlotte half eagles from this era in AU55 and even AU58 holders. This coin represents good value for less than $4,000 and it would make a nice introductory coin for the collector looking to get into the area of branch mint half eagles.
From the standpoint of overall scarcity, the 1843-O Large Date is the second rarest quarter eagle from the New Orleans mint, trailing only the low mintage 1845-O. This variety was long overlooked due to the extreme availability of the common Small Date 1843-O but it has become popular and collectors are now aware of how hard it is to locate high grade examples. This piece show the characteristic broad rims of this variety as well as the significantly doubled mintmark base. The surfaces are covered with deep, natural green-gold color with rich accents of orange-gold. There is a good deal of luster remaining and the strike is better than on many examples with just a hint of weakness on the eagle's right (facing) leg. Uncleaned examples of this variety are not often seen and this would fit nicely into a specialized collection of New Orleans quarter eagles.
BD-4. R-2. Well struck in green-gold with pronounced clashmarks on the obverse and some roughness in the die as struck. This piece is as original an example as one could hope for with deep, even green-gold color on the obverse and the reverse. There are a few light vertical and horizontal adjustment marks on the obverse that are very hard to see without magnification and I feel that they are not detracting. This piece probably never entered circulation but it does show some very light rub on the high spots meriting the assigned grade. The 1810 Large Date, Large 5 is the most available of the four major varieties of half eagle produced during this year. Since it gets no date premium for its rarity, it is an ideal coin to use for type purposes. This coin isn't priced at a level much higher than a schlocky, processed Capped Bust Left half eagle in AU58 and, as such, it represents a very good value for the connoisseur.
Large Date variety. After years of neglect, the 1854 Large Date has been acknowledged as one of the rarest Philadelphia Type One double eagles. It is screamingly rare in Uncirculated and nice AU55 to AU58 examples are about as high up on the ladder as most collectors can hope for. This attractive example was recently found in Europe (where you can imagine it was sold as a "common" variety) and it is one of the cleanest 1854 Large Dates that I have seen with just a few light, unobtrusive marks scattered in the fields. The color is a pleasing light to medium green-gold and this is exactly the "right" hue for the issue. This issue cracked the $10,000 mark in AU55 about five years ago and while other coins of comparable scarcity (1854-S and 1859, to name two) have exploded in value, this hasn't risen to the degree it should.
All 1854 Large Date double eagles can be identified by the presence of an obverse die clash that looks like a "spray" at the third curl from the bottom. There is also a raised die dot towards the truncation that can be seen even on well-worn examples.
Large Date Variety. As most collectors know, any No Motto eagle in MS63 or higher is rare. New Orleans eagles in this grade range are all but unheard of. Only two dates are sometimes seen in this grade, the 1847-O and 1851-O and even those are very rare. But to find an 1854-O Large Date in MS63 is almost unheard of. There are approximately seven to nine known in Uncirculated but this includes some pieces from the S.S. Republic and at least a few in MS60 to MS61 that I think are marginally "new." There are exactly two known in MS63 and none finer. PCGS has graded a single example which I sold to a California collector in 2005; it is originally ex Heritage 1/99: 8181 and it sold for $31,050 back then. This second example is also a coin that I handled before and it is listed as coin #2 in the Condition Census in my 2006 book "Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint, 1838-1906." It has been off the market for at least a decade and I was able to reacquire it at the recent Long Beach show. It has an amazing naked-eye "look" with glittering semi-prooflike surfaces that are free of chatter or friction and which show rich yellow-gold color. There are a few light lines on the surfaces and a touch of mint-made planchet roughness on the reverse but this piece has an amazing appearance that is unlike nearly any other example of this variety that I can recall seeing. Usually, the texture of this date is frosty and it has a sunken, slightly concave appearance. This piece has a great strike and its "look" suggests that it is one of the very first struck of this variety. Coins of this quality and rarity are seldom available these days and when they are they typically appear at auction where they tend to bring crazy prices. If you are a serious collector of New Orleans gold, Liberty Head eagles or you just want something special to put away, give this coin some serious consideration.
Large Date variety. The rarer of the two varieties of quarter eagle produced at the New Orleans mint during this year, the 1843-O Large Date is the second scarcest issue in the series after the 1845-O and the third scarcest in Uncirculated after the 1845-O and the 1842-O. This fresh, wholesome example has great color with a rich natural yellow-gold hue visible on both the obverse and reverse. It is likely that this piece never actually entered circulation but it does have some abrasions scattered in the fields and on the neck and lower cheek of Liberty. The NGC population figures for this date in AU58 is much inflated by regrades and it is likely that no more than seven to eight exist which are as nice as this lustrous "slider."
Large Date variety. The 1842-C half eagles is known with a Large Date and Small Date variety. The former is more available and this adds date pressure as many collectors of high grade Charlotte fives do not want to spend $100k or more on an Uncirculated Small Date. The 1842-C Large Date is rare in Uncirculated with an estimated dozen or so known, including at least three or four coins in the MS64 to MS65 range. This semi-prooflike example has uncommonly good eye appeal for the grade with light yellow-gold centers framed by rich orange-gold at the borders. The strike is quite sharp for the variety and there are just a few marks seen on the obverse, noticeably clustered on the lower portion of the cheek. This coin has a freshness about it that you do not see on many high grade Charlotte half eagles any more and it would be a great coin for the collector who wants a single choice early date issue for a type set.
The 1843-O Large Date is one of the scarcer New Orleans quarter eagles in Uncirculated. There are probably fewer than ten known in properly graded Uncirculated and I have never seen an example that I felt graded higher than MS62 to MS63. The present piece is solidly within the Condition Census and it is unusual in that it displays reflective surfaces instead of the usual thick, frosty luster. There is some mint-made roughness in the planchet as made and the color is a rich, even orange-gold hue with a small spot on the reverse above the left side of the E in STATES. There have been just two auction sales for a PCGS MS61 in the last few years. The first was Heritage 10/11: 4654 at $9,200 while the second was Stack's Bowers 2011 ANA: 7610 which was bid up to $8,625. CAC has approved three in this grade with another two finer.
Large Date variety. This extremely original coin is probably sourced from Europe as it has a distinctive "Euro" appearance with very rich orange gold surfaces accentuated by darker contrasting hues on the high spots. This coin has seen very little in the way of actual circulation but it does have some scattered scuffs on the surfaces including a small vertical line in the cheek of Liberty. This fascinating variety employs a silver dollar date logotype that is way too big for the available space. Many die varieties exist and on this piece, there is a significant die crack between the 18 in the date going up to the base of the neck. The 1854-O Large Date eagle is moderately scarce in properly graded AU55, rare in AU58 and very rare in Uncirculated. At under $3,000 for a nice AU example, I think this coin is great value.