Doug Winter: The 1852-O is one of the rarest No Motto eagles. It is comparable in rarity to the 1849-O, 1856-O and 1857-O. I regard this as a very undervalued date that has still not received the merit it deserves, especially in higher grades.
The 1852-O eagle is scarce and is typically found in VF and EF grades. It is quite rare in AU with most seen in the AU50 to AU53 range. Properly graded AU55 to AU58 examples are very rare. There are between two and four known in Uncirculated, depending on grading interpretations. None of these is finer than MS61, although the Byron Reed coin is clearly the best I have seen.
STRIKE: This is one of the better struck New Orleans eagles from the 1850s. As with most dates from this decade, the obverse stars are flat at the centers but the curls are relatively well detailed. The reverse is always found better struck than the obverse with all of the detail bold except for the eagle’s right leg and the wingtips.
SURFACES: The 1852-O eagle is usually seen with heavily abraded surfaces. However, there are some higher grade pieces which are very clean with comparatively few abrasions. There are a few known that show mint-made planchet laminations. I have also seen quite a number with mint-made spots on the surfaces.
LUSTER: This issue has above average luster. Higher grade pieces are frosty with a slightly flat texture to the luster. There are a few reflective examples known and I have seen at least three or four 1852-O eagles that could be designated as Prooflike.
COLORATION: The natural coloration ranges from lemon-yellow to a medium green-gold. There are not many 1852-O eagles that have not been cleaned or dipped and locating an example with attractive natural color is extremely challenging.
EYE APPEAL: The level of eye appeal for this date is average to slightly above average. The typical 1852-O is relatively well struck and has good luster. But these positive attributes are often tempered by the fact that the surfaces are covered with deep marks.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no noteworthy die characteristics observed on either the obverse or the reverse.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There are two varieties known. Breen claims that a variety exists (Breen-6901) without a hollow ring on the reverse I have never seen this and believe that it does not exist.
Variety One: The date is large and somewhat low in the field with the 1 and the 2 distant from the neck. The mintmark is high and nearly touches the arrow feather. It is placed over the far left side of the N in TEN. There is a hollow ring on the reverse shield as on many other New Orleans eagles produced between 1849 and 1853. This is not the same reverse as on 1851. Breen-6902.
Variety Two: The obverse is the same as on Variety One. The mintmark is placed lower than on the first variety with the arrow feather pointing towards the 3:00 position on the right side. It is placed further to the left than on Variety One and is over the far right side of the E in TEN. There is a hollow ring on the reverse.David Akers (1975/88): The 1852-O has the second lowest mintage of any O-Mint Eagle to this point and it is a rare coin in any grade, very nearly as rare as the 1848-O and 1849-O. When available, which is not often, the 1852-O is usually found only in VF or at best EF condition. AU specimens are very rare and to the best of my knowledge, the 1852-O is unknown in strictly uncirculated condition.
Byron Reed Collection - Western Heritage Museum - Spink America 10/1996:160, $30,800 - Stack's/Bowers 11/2016:2153, $111,625