By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner
It’s pretty obvious to specialists that the two rarest No Motto New Orleans eagle $10 gold coins in higher grades (in this case, AU55 and better) are the 1841-O and the 1859-O. But there’s a lot of competition for the number three (and four) spots. Using PCGS and CAC population data, plus my own observation, let’s examine the five dates which I regard as contenders.
In the 2020 edition of my book on New Orleans gold, I ranked the third through eighth coins as follows:
- 3. 1849-O
- 4. 1855-O and 1856-O (tie)
- 6. 1857-O
- 7. 1846-O
- 8. 1852-O
First, let’s look at PCGS population data as of early April 2020. Note that I am listing these chronologically.
These numbers are interesting as they reflect a number of new coins which have been introduced into the market through overseas sources over the last two or three years. Clearly, these six dates–which used to be very similar in overall high-grade rarity–are now split into two groups.
Group One includes the 1849-O, the 1855-O, and the 1857-O. Group Two includes the 1846-O, the 1852-O, and the 1857-O.
Now, let’s look at CAC population data as of early April 2020. Again, these six issues are listed chronologically.
Pfffffffffttttttt… that’s the sound of most of the air being let out of what I had hoped were useful statistics from CAC. I didn’t realize exactly how tough all of these actually are in higher grades with CAC approval. With such a small sample size for each date, it’s difficult to make conclusions.
But a few things stand out.
First, look at the 1855-O. Not a single example of this date graded AU55 or higher has yet to be approved by CAC. I find this to be pretty remarkable. Even more amazing is the fact that the single highest-graded 1855-O eagle with a CAC is an AU50.
Second, look at the 1849-O. Here’s another issue with no AU coins currently approved in the 55/58 range and (just one each in AU50 and AU53). The CAC population of two in Uncirculated are both MS60, with one coin being the PCGS that I paid $45,600 USD for as Heritage 2/2020: 3218.
The 1856-O shows six coins in total and at least a few are from the remarkable Künker 340 sale held in Germany late in 2020. This auction featured some very high-quality New Orleans eagles amongst other impressive branch mint US gold issues.
As someone who has handled a majority of the higher-grade No Motto New Orleans eagles, I think some personal observations are a good way to wrap up this blog. Let’s look at each of these six issues chronologically.
1846-O $10.00 PCGS MS64 CAC. Images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN)
1846-O: This date is clearly the most available of this small group in higher grades. PCGS has graded 19 in AU55 but this figure is inflated by resubmissions, plus there are a number of junky coins in 55 holders. Really nice AU58s are very rare. There are more Uncirculated 1846-O eagles known than all other five dates combined, but this is still a truly rare issue in MS60 and finer.
1849-O $10.00 PCGS MS60 CAC
1849-O: I discussed this date earlier (see above) and it is very rare in properly graded AU55 and AU58. Even a coin which is nice but not-quite-nice-enough-to-sticker is still worth a strong premium over the typical washed-out, scuffy example seen in a 55 holder. I would likely rate this as the fourth rarest No Motto eagle from New Orleans in higher grades, after the 1841-O, 1859-O, and the 1855-O, in that order.
1852-O $10.00 PCGS AU58+ CAC
1852-O: I don’t have access to PCGS population figures from a few years back but the number of coins graded by PCGS in AU55 (“18”) seems WAY too high and it is possible that someone submitted a high-end coin a number of times trying to get an AU58 out of it. I’ve seen more nice 1852-O eagles than I have most of the other dates in this group, but nearly all have been ‘just’ 55s. This date remains very rare in AU58 and it is an R-8 in Uncirculated with two or three known.
1855-O $10.00 NGC AU58
1855-O: I gave you the Big Reveal in the 1849-O description but my experience tells me that the 1855-O is the third-rarest No Motto O-mint eagle after the 1841-O and the 1859-O. I’d also add that the New England Collection–which is far and away the finest set of New Orleans gold ever assembled–could use a nicer 1855-O eagle. This is a statement I can’t make with many other gold issues from this mint!
1856-O $10.00 PCGS AU58 CAC
1856-O: The Künker 340 sale added a number of higher-grade 1856-O eagles into the mix for this date. I find the current PCGS population figures of 11 coins each in AU55 and AU58 to be unlikely; especially the latter. In my experience, choice higher-grade 1856-O eagles remain rare and this date is exceedingly rare in Uncirculated with just two or three currently known.
1857-O $10.00 PCGS AU58 CAC
1857-O: This would have been my choice for third-rarest No Motto eagle from New Orleans as recently as a few years ago, but I feel the 1855-O has proven to be a bit tougher. The PCGS figure of six graded AU58 doesn’t include a PCGS/CAC AU58+ formerly from the second group of SS Central America coins, which I sold to a specialized Louisiana collector in 2020. This is a really tough issue in high grades, but I believe that the 1855-O and the 1849-O are rarer.
To recap, I rank these six issues, in high grades, as follows:
If you’d like to collect No Motto Liberty Head eagles from New Orleans, please contact me at [email protected].
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About Doug Winter
Doug 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 US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Acknowledged as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is the award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and a recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have 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.