HomeUS Coins1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The New Orleans Mint struck four coin denominations in 1845 and a fifth dated 1845 on January 22, 1846. The backdated denomination was the 1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle, of which 4,000 coins were struck using a single pair of dies just two days before a shipment of 1846-O dies arrived from Philadelphia. Of the three branch mints authorized by the Coinage Act of March 3, 1835, the New Orleans facility was the only one striking an appreciable number of coins.

Coin: 1845-O Liberty Head Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
Coin: 1845-O Liberty Head Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

That the 1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle was actually struck in 1846 was unusual but not without precedent. What is unusual is that it went unnoticed by numismatists until late in the 19th century, when the first example was reported in the December 1894 issue of The Numismatist. Throughout the early 20th century, Fort Worth, Texas, coin dealer B. Max Mehl heavily promoted the coin whenever he got to handle one. The issue flew under the radar because the United States Mint did not mention this issue in its annual report. Additional circulated examples started to appear in the market in the 1950s, but the coin remains scarce in all grades.

1845 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle with repunched date feature. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1845 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle with a repunched date feature. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Between 80 and 100 examples of the 1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle are known, but only four are counted in the CAC, NGC, and PCGS census as being in Mint State. The Mitchelson-Brand example in PCGS MS63 is the finest known by two points. Interestingly, this coin does not carry the CAC imprimatur. This circumstance does not necessarily indicate that the coin is over-graded; certainly, the buyer didn’t think so when the coin sold for $117,000 at a March 2021 Stack’s Bowers auction.

All examples show visible repunching of the “18” of the date and a diagonal strike-through impression from Liberty’s lower hair curl to the 13th star. Most examples also exhibit a small raised bump on Liberty’s cheek, weak denticles on the reverse, and softness of strike on the reverse center.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

The Mitchelson-Brand coin is the clear top population coin for the issue, and it has remained at the PCGS MS63 level since the early 2000s. Before that, the coin was off the market since Mitchelson’s purchase. In 1983, this coin sold for $8,800; less than 40 years later, it brought a six-figure sum at auction!

Most examples have been dipped at some point.

Top Population: PCGS MS63 (1, 6/2024), NGC MS60 (1, 6/2024), and CAC MS61 (1:0 stickered:graded, 6/2024).

  • PCGS MS63 #4727167: J.C. Mitchelson; Mitchelson to Virgil Brand, by sale, March 1909 – $150; “The Virgil Brand Collection, Part I,” Bowers and Merena, October 1983, Lot 110 – $8,800; “The Bebee Collection, Part I,” Bowers and Merena, August 1987, Lot 538 – $14,300; Ronald W. Brown; “The Ronald W. Brown Acadiana Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 1999, Lot 7836 – $57,500; Heritage Rare Coin Galleries and Douglas Winter Numismatics; “The A.J. Vanderbilt Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 25, 2021, Lot 4140 – $117,000. Finest known.
Lot 386 from Paramount's session of Auction '87. Colorized plate inserted by CoinWeek.
Lot 386 from Paramount’s session of Auction ’87. Colorized plate inserted by CoinWeek.
  • PCGS MS61 #36612328: Imaged on PCGS CoinFacts. Tiny carbon spot to the immediate left of the diadem. Two significant rim hits at 10 o’clock on the obverse. Dentincles weak at the top of the reverse. Clashed dies. 
  • PCGS MS61 #22049198: Bowers and Merena, June 1986, Lot 149 – $2,640. As “Uncirculated 60.” “Auction ’87,” Paramount, July 1987, Lot 386 – $6,875. As “Mint State 60.” “The Charles Kramer Collection,” Stack’s, December 1988, Lot 126 – $7,700; As PCGS AU50. Bowers and Merena, November 1990, Lot 477 – $8,800; Gary Verner Collection; As PCGS MS61 #22049198. Doug Winter / Spectrum Numismatics; Louisiana Collection; Heritage Auctions, February 3, 2012, Lot 4636 – $29,900. Pedigree information assisted by Heritage Auctions. Second-finest known.
  • PCGS AU58 #50176917: Stack’s Bowers, March 26, 2024, Lot 4238 – $15,600. Toned obverse. Small ticks below star 1. Tiny spot below star 4. Reverse denticles are better than average.
  • NGC AU58 1930530-002: “The Buxton Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 14, 2022, Lot 3905 – $12,000.
  • NGC AU58 #561595-004: Heritage Auctions, August 16, 2019, Lot 4553 – $8,400. This coin looks washed out to us. Dark mark in the left field between star 1 and the neck. another dark spot in the right field to the left of star 11. Two diagonal marks between stars 7 and 8. Myriad ticks throughout. On the reverse, there is a dark mark above the branch and a thin long mark across the field above the eagle’s head. 
  • NGC AU58 #4239086-004: Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2018, Lot 4126 – $10,800.
  • NGC AU58 #111209-010: “The Magnolia Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 3, 2017, Lot 2159 – $12,337.50. Dark spot to the left of star 5. Diagonal mark between stars 6 and 7.
  • PCGS AU58 #4715005: “The Twelve Oaks Collection,” Heritage Auctions, September 9, 2016, Lot 13952 – $21,737.50. Weakly struck reverse. Two marks in the field above the eagle’s outstretched left wing.
  • NGC AU58 #1893009-003: Heritage Auctions, February 5, 2010, Lot 1458 – $10,350. Cluster of small scratches underneath the fraction and D. Cluster of hits on the chief of the shield. Horizontal tick on the fourth column of vertical stripes on the shield. Denticles are better than average on the reverse.
  • NGC AU58 #956259-008: Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Heritage Auctions, July 2005, Lot 10317 – $7,475; “The Grand Lake Collection,” Heritage Auctions, February 6, 2009, Lot 2466 – $9,200. BASS on insert. There is a long horizontal mark on the jaw. Deep tick to the right of star 3. Diagonal hit at the back of the neck. There is a rim hit at 5 o’clock.

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1845-O Liberty Head Quarter Eagle Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1845
Denomination: Two Dollars and Fifty Cents (USD)
Mintmark: O (New Orleans)
Mintage: 4,000
Alloy: .900 Gold, .100 Copper
Weight: 4.18 g
Diameter: 18.00 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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