Only three New Orleans half eagles bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse and the 1894-O is the penultimate of this trio. It is far scarcer than the 1893-O but not as rare as the 1892-O. The 1894-O is generally seen in the AU53-MS60 range and it is rare in properly graded MS62. In all my years of specializing in New Orleans gold I have only handled a small number finer than MS62 and the present example is a fresh, pleasing coin with natural green-gold and orange colors atop highly reflective, lightly scuffed surfaces. Only five slabbed MS62 examples of the 1894-O half eagle have appeared at auction since 2000 and the last sale was a PCGS coin that brought $3,220 as Heritage 11/11: 4331.
This numismatically significant issue is one of only three With Motto half eagles from this mint and it is the final year of issue of this type from New Orleans. The 1894-O is scarce in the lower Uncirculated grades and it is seldom found above MS61. This lustrous example has typically abraded surfaces but nice luster and color with no signs of rub or friction on the high spots. PCGS has graded just seven finer than this and it has been some time since I've handled a significantly finer 1894-O half eagle.
While seemingly not that scarce in MS61, virtually all of the 1894-O half eagles I have seen in said holders are sliders that do not make the proverbial grade. The present example is strictly "new" and is actually quite choice for the date and grade. It has great luster and nice subtle golden color with a few identifying areas of coppery toning (including a small spot on Liberty's neck) that give it superior eye appeal for the issue. The 1894-O is numismatically significant as the final Liberty Head half eagle from this mint. It is common in circulated grades but rare in the lower Mint State grades and very rare in MS62 and above, as evidenced by the fact that PCGS has graded just seven in this grade or better. The last two PCGS MS61's to appear at auction, in the Heritage 6/11 and Stack's Bowers 7/11 sales, both sold for $2,530 and were both inferior to this example.
While typically lumped with the 1893-O, the 1894-O is far scarcer in all grades. It is seldom seen above AU58 to MS60 and most of the Uncirculated examples known are excessively baggy MS60 to MS61 coins. Properly graded MS62 pieces are very rare as evidenced by the fact that PCGS has graded but four in MS62 with a scant two finer. There have been just two auction records for PCGS MS62 examples in the last seven years: Stack's 3/10: 1585 which brought $4,313 and Heritage 1/04: 7069 that sold for $4,140. This is the first 1894-O half eagle that I've owned in "real" MS62 in close to five years. It is mostly prooflike with splashes of golden-orange color atop vibrant surfaces that are moderately abraded. None of these marks is deep or terribly detracting and most are seen in the left obverse field. This is a true condition rarity and it is a numismatically significant issue, as well, due to its status as the final With Motto half eagle made at the New Orleans mint.