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.
Here's yet another reason why I love being a coin dealer: after a couple of years of not handling an example of this very rare double eagle, I have now bought two in less than than three weeks. I just sold the Pittman 1855-O (also graded EF45 and approved by CAC) and am now pleased to offer what I believe to be the single nicest piece that I have ever seen in an EF45 holder. This is a very original 1855-O with superb deep color on the obverse and reverse. Both sides are a rich green-gold with pronounced reddish shadings at the right obverse border and across nearly all of the reverse periphery. The surfaces are choice and exceptionally clean for the issue with no marks of note except for a tiny shallow mint-made planchet flake to the left of the 1 in the date. Interestingly, the Pittman coin that I just sold also had an obverse flake; this time below the 55 in the date. This example has really marvelous overall eye appeal and I doubt if you could find a piece with a better appearance in today's market. As I said when describing the Pittman coin, the 1855-O is the rarest collectible New Orleans double eagle and I think it is considerably undervalued in relation to issues such as the 1859-O, 1860-O and 1879-O.
Pittman Collection Pedigree. The 1855-O is the third rarest New Orleans double eagle, after the 1854-O and the 1856-O. Given that nice examples of either of these dates is a $200,000++ expenditure, for most collectors the 1855-O is the most important double eagle from this mint that they will purchase. The 1855-O is a nearly impossible issue to find with original color and nice surfaces and this coin is far above-average in both regards. It is very well detailed and it has not been scrubbed or dipped as shown by its warm greenish-gold patina. Most amazingly, it shows only a few very light abrasions in the fields. This example is immediately recognizable by a small natural planchet flaw on the obverse rim below the 55 in the date. This actually adds character to the appearance, in my opinion, and in no way detracts. While not identified on the holder by NGC, this is clearly the Pittman coin and it is one of the last major double eagles that he acquired in his storied collecting career. The last EF45 to sell was Heritage 7/11: 4993 (graded by PCGS) that realized $34,500. That coin had numerous abrasions in the fields and it was not accorded a sticker by CAC. In fact, only three 1855-O double eagles in EF45 have been approved by CAC and none above this. A very important coin for the Type One collector and a piece that combines beauty, rarity and numismatic history in one neat package.
Ex Pittman: 1131, Merkin 10/66: 374
Despite a mintage of just 18,000 coins, the 1855-O eagle is an overlooked rarity that is scarce in all grades and genuinely rare in AU and better. This example has delightful natural green-gold color and great luster with nice surfaces. There are just a few small marks behind the neck and this is a very high end coin for the grade with the "body" of an AU53 to AU55. The stars are flat at the centers as on all known examples. I have not seen an original 1855-O eagle of this calibre in at least half a year, if not more. The last PCGS AU50 to sell at auction was Heritage 1/09: 5534 (which I purchased) and, before this, none was sold since the ANR 1/05 auction. The PCGS population figures for this date are very inflated by resubmissions and I'd venture a guess that this is one of the nicest pieces known in a PCGS AU50 holder!
The 1855-O is the only Type Two gold dollar from New Orleans and its status as a one-year type makes it very popular with a broad range of collectors. It is nowhere near as scarce as the 1855-C or 1855-D but it so much more affordable than these two issues. This particular example has wonderful eye appeal for the issue with intense rich orange-gold colors seen on the obverse and reverse. There is a small scrape below TAT in STATES that removes this coin from strong consideration at the AU55 level. Choice, attractive and great value at less than $2,000.