By Paradime Coins ……
The United States in 1880 was in the midst of economic growth and expansion through the Gilded Age period. The economy was being driven by industrialization, and the discovery of gold and silver in the western states led to a significant increase in the country’s money supply. All of this was during a year when the first electric streetlight was installed, Thomas Edison perfected the electric railway system and President James A. Garfield won the presidential election.
The New Orleans Mint in 1880 was one of four United States Mint facilities in operation during this time period. Coinage production at the New Orleans Mint stopped in 1861 as a result of the Civil War, and only restarted operations in 1879. Upon the restart after a near-20-year hiatus, the production comprised mainly of Morgan silver dollars at 2,887,000 pieces; however, $10 eagle and $20 double eagle gold coins were also struck at 1,500 and 2,325 pieces, respectively.
Because of the break in production at the Mint and the subsequent low mintages once production resumed, New Orleans $10 eagles became hits and are collected widely today by collectors.
The 1880-O is the second issue in the later New Orleans $10 series and as the mintage of 9,200 pieces might imply, the 1880-O is a key date issue with about 275 existing in all grades. The 1880-O is the third-scarcest With Motto eagle from New Orleans after the incredibly rare 1883-O and 1879-O issues. The 1880-O $10 can be challenging to locate even in higher circulated grades and are in explicably rare in Uncirculated. In UNC, both Doug Winter and PCGS estimate approximately five unique examples today.
The Top Three Census:
- MS64 PCGS ($129,250 – 03/2017. Stack’s Bowers. D.L Hansen Collection)
- Current Example – MS63 PCGS CAC
- NGC MS62 (New England Collection)
This coin features fully struck details with strong hair and full radial lines in the star, as well as an original unblemished surface with an overall light-yellow gold color and subtle attractive reddish contrast between the devices. The attractive two-tone contrast only further accents the completely unhindered creamy unbroken luster generating a near-Prooflike flashy example worthy of being only in the finest $10 gold collection or Type Set. The reverse is likely an MS65.
In Uncirculated, CAC has certified two examples in MS60, none in MS61, none in MS62, and this example is the only CAC-certified in MS63. The PCGS Price Guide gives an estimated value of $100,000, and CAC offers an estimate of $125,000. Overall, the 1880-O $10 eagle gold coin is a valuable piece of history, reflecting both the economic climate and the numismatic history of the New Orleans Mint.