No Motto New Orleans Eagles: A Study of Condition Rarity

No Motto New Orleans Eagles: A Study of Condition Rarity

The No Motto type of Liberty Head eagle was produced at the New Orleans mint from 1841 through 1860. By using CAC population figures, we can get an idea of which dates display condition or appearance rarity. CAC is a service which is rewards good eye appeal, unlike the grading services which are grading more from a technical standpoint.

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Cool Coins from the 2015 ANA: Part Three

Cool Coins from the 2015 ANA: Part Three

The 1914 eagle has a mintage of just 50 which is the lowest in the series. It seems that a higher percentage of Proofs of this date were saved than in other years, and as many as 30 to 40 are known. Nearly all have been mishandled in some shape or fashion, and my best estimate is that no more than six to eight Matte Proofs of this year are known with original color and surfaces.

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1844-O $10.00 PCGS MS61

As is the case with most of the New Orleans eagles produced between 1843 and 1848, the 1844-O is common enough in lower grades but it becomes scarce in properly graded AU55 to AU58 and it is very rare to extremely rare in full Mint State. This is clearly the case with the 1844-O. I am aware of seven or eight in Uncirculated (not including the unique Gem Proof example that sold a few years ago in excess of $1 million) and this includes three that have seawater surfaces as a result of having been uncovered in shipwrecks. The present example is the second best I have seen with original surfaces, trailing only the wonderful Byron Reed: 157 coin, graded MS62 by NGC, that brought $31,900 all the way back in 1996. This coin has wonderful soft, frosty luster with lovely natural light orange-gold color on both sides. A few very faint natural reddish spots can be seen; one above the 18 in the date and the other between the two 4's. The strike is sharp and the obverse is clean and choice with just a few minor marks; the reverse has a few more marks with most of these clustered in the field behind the head of the eagle. After years of neglect, high quality No Motto Liberty Head eagles have finally come into their own and are now appreciated for the rarities they are. That said, I think coins like this are still a great value and this lovely 1844-O is among the more exciting New Orleans eagles that I have offered for sale all year.

Ex Heritage 10/10: 4873, where it sold for $18,400.

1855-O $10.00 NGC EF45 CAC

With a mintage of just 18,000, the 1855-O is a scarce date in all grades. It is tied with the 1856-O as the fifth rarest No Motto eagle from New Orleans and it is really hard to find in choice, original EF. This example was sold by me to a collector around a year ago and he traded it back to me to acquire a nice PCGS AU50 1855-O eagle. It has lovely medium green-gold color that is accentuated by splashes of reddish-gold at the obverse periphery. In addition to showing nice color, this piece has very clean surfaces with just a few inconsequential marks scattered about the fields. There is a small rectangular planchet flaw on the reverse below the beak that is mint-made. An affordable but truly scarce coin that is a great value for the eagle collector.

1842 Large Date $10.00 NGC AU58

Large Date variety. There are two varieties of eagles produced at the Philadelphia mint in 1842: the Small Date and the Large Date. The former is the scarcer of the two but the Large Date is more challenging to locate than its mintage figure of 62,884 would suggest. This date is usually seen in the EF40 to AU50 grade range and it becomes very scarce in properly graded AU55 to AU58. In Uncirculated, it is a really rare coin and it is an issue that I have not handled in Mint State since the early 1990's. This fresh example shows no real wear but does display some abrasions from having been transported in a bag. The color is a lovely fiery orange-gold hue with some contrasting reddish shades about the devices. There have been no AU58 1842 Large Date eagles sold at auction since 2008 and the last MS60 (a PCGS coin) sold for $10,925 in the Heritage 3/09 sale despite its funky orange coloration. There are many great opportunities for the value-conscious collector in the Liberty Head eagle market and these early dates from Philadelphia offer some of the best value out there.

1842-O $10.00 NGC AU53 CAC

Coinage of the eagle denomination at the New Orleans mint didn't begin until 1841 and given the fact that the first year of issue is rare and expensive, for most collectors the 1842-O is the first available issue. The 1842-O has a mintage of 27,400 and it is only marginally scarce in lower grades but it becomes very scarce in properly graded AU53 and higher. Nearly all the examples that I see graded AU53 to AU55 are heavily abraded and show no originality. This example is a nice exception to the rule(s) as it is very clean and shows nice deep green-gold color with underlying flashes of reddish-gold at the date and borders. The strike is very sharp with just a bit of weakness on the curl above the ear and the fields are smooth. This piece has really good eye appeal for the date. Scarce and attractive.

1872-S $10.00 PCGS AU53

Almost certainly from Europe as evidenced by the deep orange-gold color contrasted by darker toning on the highlights. Choice and very lustrous with some light scuffs in the left obverse field; the reverse is cleaner and very lightly marked. The 1872-S eagle is an overlooked issue with an original mintage of only 17,300. I believe that there are around 150-200 known with most seen in the VF-EF grade range. Properly graded AU53 to AU55 examples are very scarce and the 1872-S is a true rarity in Uncirculated withe just two or three known with claims to an Uncirculated grade. The last PCGS AU53 to be sold at auction was Stack's 8/10: 1153 which brought $3,450; before this was the B+M 7/06 coin (lot 1644) that sold for a strong $5,175. A really nice example of this underrated issue.

1891-CC $10.00 PCGS MS63 CAC

Recently found in Europe and graded by PCGS at their Paris facility. It is not often that I purchase this date due to the fact that it is so common by the standards of Carson City eagles. But this is such a choice, high end and fresh 1891-CC eagle that I felt I had to add it to my current inventory. It is from the same little group of CC eagles that featured the 1883-CC and 1893-CC listed above and below and it merits special consideration for its dazzling frosty luster, rich natural golden-orange color and overall eye appeal. This piece is as well made as any Philadelphia or San Francisco eagle of this era with all details up and bold. The surfaces show just a few light, well-dispersed ticks and were it not for a small cluster of abrasions in the left obverse, it would receive strong consideration at the 64 level. The 1891-CC eagle is common in MS60 to MS62 but it is scarce in MS63 and rare above this. Given the fact that it is a "generic" issue in the CC eagle series, most advanced collectors are happy to have an example in MS63 in their set, especially as properly graded MS64's seem expensive at $15,000+ for a properly graded example.

1893-CC $10.00 PCGS AU55 CAC

Recently found in Europe and graded by PCGS at their Paris facility. The 1893-CC is numismatically significant as the final eagle produced at the Carson City mint. Only 14,000 were struck and it is way, way scarcer than any other of the CC eagles made during the 1890's. In fact, the 1893-CC is very rare in Uncirculated and properly graded AU55 to AU58 examples are rare. This choice piece has virtually no wear but it is slightly abraded in the fields from being transported loose in a bag. The color is very pleasing with deep green-gold highlighted by strong peripheral flashes of fiery reddish-gold; the obverse is a bit less deeply toned than the reverse. The surfaces are semi-prooflike and show no signs of having ever been brightened or "improved." Some marks in the left obverse field are all that keep this choice piece from an AU58 grade. A very nice coin and a really hard issue to find as original as this.