As is the case with most of the New Orleans eagles produced between 1843 and 1848, the 1844-O is common enough in lower grades but it becomes scarce in properly graded AU55 to AU58 and it is very rare to extremely rare in full Mint State. This is clearly the case with the 1844-O. I am aware of seven or eight in Uncirculated (not including the unique Gem Proof example that sold a few years ago in excess of $1 million) and this includes three that have seawater surfaces as a result of having been uncovered in shipwrecks. The present example is the second best I have seen with original surfaces, trailing only the wonderful Byron Reed: 157 coin, graded MS62 by NGC, that brought $31,900 all the way back in 1996. This coin has wonderful soft, frosty luster with lovely natural light orange-gold color on both sides. A few very faint natural reddish spots can be seen; one above the 18 in the date and the other between the two 4's. The strike is sharp and the obverse is clean and choice with just a few minor marks; the reverse has a few more marks with most of these clustered in the field behind the head of the eagle. After years of neglect, high quality No Motto Liberty Head eagles have finally come into their own and are now appreciated for the rarities they are. That said, I think coins like this are still a great value and this lovely 1844-O is among the more exciting New Orleans eagles that I have offered for sale all year.
Ex Heritage 10/10: 4873, where it sold for $18,400.
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.
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.
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 1848-O is one of the hardest New Orleans eagles from the 1840's to locate but it is actually seen from time to time in Uncirculated, unlike dates such as the 1842-O, 1846-O and 1849-O that are nearly impossible in MS60 or better. This flashy, golden-green example has plenty of natural luster remaining and it shows the typical strike for the issue: an obverse that has a slightly sunken appearance and a sharper reverse. There is a lot of "meat" left on this coin and the surfaces show just a few scattered marks that are consistent with the assigned grade. Only a few dozen properly graded AU 1848-O eagles are known and relatively few have the eye appeal and natural appearance that this piece shows.
I generally don't buy this date unless I see a specific coin that is outstanding and this coin is, in a word, outstanding. It is semi-prooflike with splendid rich natural straw-gold color. A few light scuffs in the fields remove this coin from an MS63 grade but it is far nicer than usual for the grade and pretty comparable to some of the 1888-O eagles that I have seen in 63 holders. As a date, the 1888-O is only moderately scarce in MS62 but I think this coin is great value compared to an MS63 at $4500-5500. This is one of six examples approved by CAC in this grade with just two finer.
Simpson/Hall pedigree.. This date has been a favorite of mine for many years. Only 9,200 were struck and it is the third rarest With Motto eagle from this mint after the very rare 1883-O and the rare 1879-O. When available, the 1880-O eagle is typically seen in the EF40 to AU50 range and nice mid-range to high-range AU's are quite scarce. This very lustrous example would grade AU58 were it not for a few marks on Liberty's neck. It displays considerable mint luster and has nice orange-gold and rose coloration. The last PCGS AU55 example to sell at auction was the Heritage 2010 ANA coin that brought $3,450. Since then, the market for better date Liberty Head eagles has risen appreciably and I think this coin is good value.