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Classic US Gold Coins – The Rare and Underappreciated 1849-O Eagle

Doug Winter 1849-O feature graphic

By Doug WinterRareGoldcoins.com

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In the No Motto New Orleans eagle series (produced from 1841 through 1860), there are two well-known rarities: the 1841-O and the 1859-O. The next rarity tier consists of four issues: the 1849-O, 1852-O, 1856-O and 1857-O–which are extremely hard to locate in About Uncirculated and which are essentially unavailable in Uncirculated. Of these four, I have seen fewer nice 1849-O eagles than any of the other three dates.

1849-O $10.00 PCGS AU58. Images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics

1849-O $10.00 PCGS AU58. All images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics

A total of 23,900 eagles were made at the New Orleans Mint in 1849. I believe that there are as many as 100 to 125 known but this figures is misleading as the vast majority grade Very Fine or Extremely Fine. There are an estimated 13 to 17 known in About Uncirculated, and I doubt if more than two or three of these are what I would define as “choice, original” coins. There are just two or three 1849-O eagles of which the finest is the PCGS MS61 I sold to a California collector in 2006; it was earlier lot 637 in the November 2000 Bass III sale where I paid $21,850 USD for it.

1849-O $10.00 PCGS AU50. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1849-O $10.00 PCGS AU50

The 1849-O has a very distinctive appearance and I would rate it as the single-worst-struck gold coin of any denomination from the New Orleans branch mint. The obverse has an unusual flat appearance with sunken fields and very little detail seen on the radial lines in the stars. This same appearance is seen on the 1848-O eagle, but the 1849-O has other issues which we will discuss in a second.

For some reason, the 1849-O eagle was a roughly handled issue. In addition to seeing very active use in commerce, it was abused by collectors with many having been harshly cleaned. I have seen very few that had positive eye appeal and even the comparatively high-grade pieces in holders show detracting, deep abrasions.

1849-O $10.00 NGC AU55. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1849-O $10.00 NGC AU55

The rarity of this date is borne out by its low population figures. As of March 2017, PCGS had graded three in AU58 and just two in Uncirculated: an MS60 and an MS61. NGC had graded five in AU58 and two in Uncirculated: an MS60 and an MS61.

If a choice AU55 were to come on the market, it would attract little attention and would likely sell for a reasonable mid-to-high four figure price. I contend that such a coin should cause considerable excitement… at least among anyone else besides me!

Questions? I can be reached via email at [email protected].

Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins

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About Doug Winter

Doug_Winter2Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old,  buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.

In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare United States coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.

Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins has made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality and fair and honest pricing.  Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small.  He can be reached at 214-675-9897.

Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins,  Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues

In addition he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
  • Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
  • Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
  • Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
  • The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
  • Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
  • An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
  • The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
  • A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
  • The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
  • Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis

Finally Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.

New Orleans Mint Gold Coins Currently Available on eBay


Doug Winter
Doug Winterhttps://www.raregoldcoins.com
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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