After the New Orleans eagle production soared to 263,000 in 1851, it dropped back down to 18,000 in 1852. The 1852-O eagle is tied for the fifth rarest of twenty-one No Motto issues from this mint and it becomes extremely rare in properly graded AU58 and above. I know of two or three in Uncirculated (the best is an NGC MS61 that is ex Byron Reed: 160 and it sold for over $30,000 back in 1996) and just three or four others in AU58. This example is oustanding for the date and grade with just a small amount of friction in the left obverse field keeping it from an MS61 grade. The surfaces are every clean with nearly no abrasions and nice medium orange-gold color. Very few examples in this grade have reached the market in the last decade with the last APR of note being the PCGS example sold as B+M 8/10: 1730 that brought $20,700. This is the best 1852-O eagle that I have handled in years and it will become an important addition to an advanced set of New Orleans eagles.
I have handled at least a dozen EF45 1851-O and 1852-O double eagles (combined) in the past year and I'd have to say that this example may be the most attractive, at least from the standpoint of originality. The obverse and reverse show lovely deep original green-gold color with no lightened areas from prior dippings or cleanings. The surfaces are remarkably choice for a New Orleans double eagle of any date with a near-total lack of marks. My guess is that this coin was recently found overseas but it doesn't have the too dark/too splotchy color that many of the O mints that are found in these sources display. The "+" designation from NGC was certainly the result of this coin's great eye appeal and I think a collector would be hard-pressed to find a nice New Orleans double eagle of any date for less than $5,000.
The 1852-O is one of the harder New Orleans eagles from this decade to find in higher grades. When available, it tends to come in the EF40 to AU50 range and is characterized by processed surfaces that are replete with dense abrasions. The present example is one of the nicer 1852-O eagles that I have seen in some time and it is a coin that, in my opinion, could easily have graded AU55 on the "right day." The strike is far above average for the issue with very good detail seen at the centers; the surfaces are very lustrous and quite clean with light green-gold hues. This date is nearly impossible to find choicer than this and I think it is a very good value given its scarcity in all AU grades.
This completely original 1852-O quarter eagle is well-struck and satiny with attractive medium to deep orange-gold hues atop a green-gold undertone. There is just a slight amount of friction on the high spots of the obverse and a good deal of dirt can be seen in the crevasses of the reverse. Price levels on this date have dropped in recent years due to the fact that a number of auction records for AU58 pieces are low; these tend to be for unoriginal and unappealing examples. A "Gem Slider" example like this is actually quite scarce and a very good value at less than $2,000.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that this coin is one of the single finest AU58 New Orleans double eagles of any date that I have ever seen. In arecent auction appearance it set an all-time record price for an AU58 1852-O (more on this below) and with good reason: it is absolutely stunning. In the very same sale in which this appeared,there was an 1852-O double eagle graded MS65 by NGC. While that coin was certainly incredible, I'd personally rather have this coin at one-fourteenth of the price and use the leftover funds to acquire other neat coins. Before this coin recently surfaced, it had been off the market for at least two decades as part of the Henry Miller collection. It has the naked-eye appearance of an MS62 to MS63 with superb deep original orange-gold color, semi-prooflike surfaces and a virtual absence of marks. There is just one small little area of rub on the obverse and since it is located on the cheek of Liberty, it is more obvious to the eye than if it were, say, in the fields. Interestingly, the buyer of this coin in the Miller sale was one of the sharpest wholesale "breakout" dealers that I know and, as he told me when I was buying this coin from recently, this is exactly the sort of coin that NGC (and PCGS) have called MS61 (or finer) in the recent past. The new owner of this coin can count on having one of the most attractive New Orleans double eagles known--of any date or in any grade!
Ex Heritage 1/11: 5242 where it sold for $19,550. Previously, it was in the Henry Miller collection and it was probably obtained sometime before 1980.