There are only two "affordable" dates in the New Orleans double eagle series: the 1851-O and the 1852-O. If you track this series, you know that nice EF examples of this date have risen dramatically in the last decade. Has this market peaked? I don't think so and I base this belief on the demand I see for any sub-$5,000 PCGS graded 1851-O double eagle (or 1852-O) that I list on my site. These coins are regular visitors to raregoldcoins.com and they tend to fly off the proverbial shelf when available. This example has nice deep, even green-gold color with enough dirt present in the lettering to show that it is original. The surfaces lack any serious marks and the overall level of eye appeal is strong for the grade
There are a small number of Gem Sliders known for this date and when they become available, collectors get excited. The reason is simple: an MS61 example of this date, if available, is now approaching $40,000 and a very high end AU58 like this coin is a remarkable value at less than half the price. This piece probably never entered circulation and it has glassy semi-prooflike surfaces with rich light green-gold that is accentuated by splashes of rich lime-gold across the central obverse. The strike is as sharp as one could hope for and there is just the slightest amount of bag friction on the high spots of the obverse. A small mark on the obverse can be seen between stars two and three and it seems to be mint-made. An exciting coin for the advanced collector of New Orleans gold.
CAC has approved two in this grade and two finer.
Only two New Orleans double eagles, the 1851-O and the 1852-O, are seen with any regularity in the higher AU grades but both are very scarce in properly graded AU58 with original color and surfaces. This lovely example, with a semi-prooflike texture noted below glowing yellow-gold color, is an interesting late die state that shows strong evidence of die lapping on the obverse stars (especially four through nine) that is the result of overzealous polishing of the dies in an attempt to eradicate die rust. Only a touch of light rub can be seen on the cheek of Liberty and in the fields but my guess is that this was the result of friction from a coin cabinet as opposed to time spent in circulation as there are only a few small ticks in the fields as opposed to the usual dense abrasions. As you might expect, this date takes an enormous price jump in the next grade(s) up. If you can find an MS61 (and I doubt it will be a whole lot nicer than this "slider") you are probably looking at $35,000-40,000.
Everyone wants to own at least one double eagle from the New Orleans mint but with prices approaching five figures for a decent-but-not-mindblowing AU example, not everyone can afford one. How about a pleasing, evenly worn EF piece for a shade under four thousand bucks? This problem-free 1851-O has medium russet color and a bit of underlying luster on both sides. There are no major marks and the naked-eye appeal is excellent for the grade. I've seen damaged examples of this date sell in the $2,500-3,000 range which makes this piece seem like the perfect value play for the collector who longs for a Crescent City double eagle.
While certainly not a "rare"coin in this grade, it has become quite challenging to locate an AU50-55 example of the 1851-O (or the 1852-O, for that matter) that has good overall eye appeal. I like the present example quite a bit for the grade on account of its pleasing orange-gold and reddish color and abundant remaining luster. In fact, this piece has the skin and body of an AU55 but it is just a hair too abraded to accurately encapsulate as such. There is a scrape (from contact with another coin) on Libery's hair below star eight on the obverse as well as some other scatterered signs of contact; the reverse is clean and choice. This piece is from an early state of the dies with full stars on the obverse and good detail seen at the centers. In any grade higher than this, you are looking at a low five-figure expenditure, making a choice AU53 example like this the "sweet spot" for many collectors.
This is a solid coin for the grade with nice natural medium green-gold color that shows some underlying flashes of reddish-gold most noticeably at the upper reverse periphery. Struck from a late state of the dies with lapping having partially removed some of the stars on the obverse; stars six and seven are actually somewhat hard to see with the naked eye. There are a few small, scattered marks seen on the obverse including a cluster before the lips of Liberty; the reverse is clean and choice. This is an affordable example of one of the two affordable double eagles from this mint.
When this coin walked up to my table at the FUN show, my first reaction was "there will be at least five people who order it within the first few hours it's posted." Not only is this a clean, evenly worn example with a great naked-eye appearance, it has a "surprise" feature which I only discovered as I tilted it towards a light source. Outlining the devices are intense iridescent purple-blue flashes which could well be the result of this coin having been stored in a leather pouch or old coin album. This helps to give it a "circulated cameo" appearance that is both novel and very fetching. This is one of only two affordable New Orleans double eagles and locating a more attractive 1851-O for less than $5,000 might be just about impossible.
If you want to buy a nice quality New Orleans double eagle and you have less than $5,000 to spend you basically have two choices: the 1851-O and the 1852-O. Of the two dates, the 1851-O is a bit harder to find. This very attractive example shows natural green-gold color with areas of reddish toning at the borders. There is some luster present and the surfaces are nice for the date and grade. A shallow mint-made planchet flake between the two final stars on the obverse does not detract and the reverse is clean, choice and lovely. You won't find many nicer EF examples of this date than the present coin.