The true rarity of this date is not widely known but it is the second hardest New Orleans half eagle to locate both in terms of overall and high grade rarity. There are well under 100 known from the original mintage of 16,400 and unlike dates like the 1840-O, 1843-O Small and Large Letters and 1845-O, it is virtually non-existent in higher grades. There are exactly three known in Uncirculated (all placed in private collections) and probably another ten to twelve properly graded AU pieces. The present example is one of the few 1842-O half eagles that I have ever seen with fully original color and both sides show a handsome deep, rich green-gold hue. There are a few minor marks in the fields including a small cut between the final star and the back of the neck but this date is known for its rough surfaces and this piece is much more choice than usual in that regard. There has been exactly one auction record for an AU55 for this date in the last decade: the ANR 3/04: 1398 coin (graded by NGC) that brought $8,625 in a market that was far less appreciative of rare New Orleans gold coinage. This coin is a great combination of rarity and beauty and I think it is a great value at less than $10,000.
Around half of the known 1842-O quarter eagles have strikes that range from "weak" to "are you kidding me??" This example is actually quite well struck with no serious weakness at the centers. It is also original with nice deep green-gold colors seen on the obverse and reverse and some dirt in the protected areas. The 1842-O is the second scarcest quarter eagle from this mint after the 1845-O and it is a hard issue to find with good eye appeal. Excellent value at less than $1500!
While not all that widely known, the 1842-O is the second scarcest half eagle from this mint (after the 1847-O) and it is actually rarer than virtually any half eagle from Charlotte or Dahlonega in terms of the total number of coins known to exist. This piece has the "right" color for the date with a deep lime-green hue seen on the obverse and reverse. The surfaces are clean and the wear, while fairly extensive on both sides, is even and acceptable for the grade. The last 1842-O half eagle in EF40 to sell at auction was the Stacks 1/07: 5115 coin (graded by NGC) that sold for $5,500 and before this the ANR 3/05: 691 example (graded by PCGS) sold for $3,680. Very rare, very undervalued and very nice.
In terms of overall rarity, the 1842-O is the third most difficult New Orleans quarter eagle to find after the 1845-O and the 1843-O Large Date. Only 19,800 were struck and survivors number below 150 with most showing heavy circulation. This frosty, original example shows rich green-gold surfaces punctuated by splashes of reddish-gold. There is quite a bit of mint luster present and not that much actual wear. As is so often the case with this date, the strike is somewhat flat at the centers and this has caused PCGS to be a bit conservative on the grade that they have assigned, in my opinion. Amazingly, there have been no PCGS graded AU50 examples of this date sold at auction since the Heritage 3/01: 2257 coin which brought $1,600 a decade ago. This is the only AU50 example of this date to have received CAC approval.
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.