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.
Narrow Mill variety. Unlike the 1838-C+D and the 1839-C+D half eagles, the first-year-of-issue 1840-O half eagle remains overlooked and undervalued. It is an issue that is most often seen in VF to EF grades and nice AU's are scarce. This lightly worn yellowish-gold piece is sharply detailed and has much of its original "skin." There are scattered marks seen in the fields with most located in the upper reverse above and behind the head of the eagle. The NGC population figure for this date in AU58 is well-inflated by resubmissions as evidenced by the fact that no AU58's have sold at auction since May 2008. An historically significant issue as the first half eagle from this mint and a pleasing slider example.
A beautiful, original coin with deep natural green-gold and russet hues on the obverse and the reverse. This date is rare in all grades and it is extremely hard to find with natural color as most have been dipped and/or processed. This piece is well-detailed, has very clean surfaces and shows far above-average eye appeal for the date and grade. A total of 13,000 were struck of which around 100 or so are known today. Most are seen in the VF-EF grade range and AU 1857-O half eagles are quite rare with two dozen or so accounted for. How hard is it to find an example in AU53? Well, since 1999 there have been just two sold at auction: Heritage 1/06: 5219 (graded NGC AU53 by NGC that sold for $4,485) and Bass II: 1100 (graded AU53 by PCGS that sold for $3,680 all the way back in 1999). If you collect New Orleans half eagles by date, you know the importance of this offering. If you don't but like cool coins priced at under $5,000, this piece should also generate some interest.