By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
The 1848-O Liberty eagle was the only gold coin issued at New Orleans in that year. Production had dropped significantly to just 35,850 examples, compared to nearly 600,000 coins produced in 1847. Today, all survivors of the issue are treasured, although most pieces have been subject to heavily circulation and mishandling since their release on the eve of the California Gold Rush. A small concentration of pieces can be found at the Extremely Fine level, while AU pieces are considerably scarce. Accurately graded Mint State coins, like the present example, are legitimately rare, making the appearance of this coin at auction a significant cause for excitement!
The frosted motifs of this New Orleans rarity are framed against considerably reflective fields, resulting in wonderfully prooflike contrast on both sides. Subtle tangerine at the peripheries enhances the otherwise saffron-gold complexion.
The obverse demonstrates a slightly more gentle strike, characteristic to this issue, and is lacking some centrils and finer hair detail but is overall bold.
The fatigued reverse die identifies this piece as an example of Winter’s Variety One, with aggressive polishing lines criss-crossing the fields and evidence of rust scattered around the legends.
Planchet inconsistencies are noted below the 4 of the date and just about star 1 on the obverse, but true friction is minimal for the assigned grade. A thin mark traces the obverse border at 10 o’clock, but the surfaces are otherwise largely untouched, and the high points are surprisingly serene.
This piece represents one of just eight unique Mint State examples estimated to survive by PCGS CoinFacts, corroborating Winter’s estimate of seven to eight Uncirculated coins. With strong eye appeal throughout, this is a truly significant piece for early Liberty eagle enthusiasts.
This lovely treasure will be offered with numerous world-class rarities in our November 2016 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo. To obtain your copy of the catalog or to consign your rarities to a future showcase event, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646 to speak with a Consignment Director and see what Stack’s Bowers Galleries can do for you.