David Akers (1975/88): The 1855-O has exactly the same mintage as the 1852-O and is of approximately equal overall rarity. Most known 1855-O Eagles are in VF condition and even accurately graded EF examples are very rare. The specimens that I have seen all had prooflike or partially prooflike surfaces. The Scalon-Miles coin is the finest I can recall seeing.Doug Winter: This is one of the scarcer No Motto eagles from New Orleans. As with the half eagle of this date, the 1855-O eagle is a coin whose true rarity, especially in higher grades, is still appreciated mainly by specialists.
The 1855-O is one of the scarcer No Motto New Orleans eagles. The great majority of pieces known are in the VF and EF range. Only a dozen or so exist in AU and most of these grade AU50 to AU53. High end AUs are very rare and there are just two currently known in Uncirculated both grading MS61.
STRIKE: The 1855-O eagle has an average quality strike. The central obverse tends to display some weakness on the curls around the face and the curl below Liberty’s ear is often very faint. The stars are better struck than on the previous issues from this decade, with most of the radial lines showing full or nearly-full detail The reverse is usually better struck than the obverse and it is not uncommon to see an 1855-O eagle with nearly complete feather and claw detail.
SURFACES: This is a date that is nearly non-existent with clean surfaces. Virtually every example I have seen is extensively abraded in the fields. There are a number which have scratches and I have seen many with small rim bumps.
LUSTER: The luster is frosty with a slightly grainy texture. Most 1855-O eagles are either worn to the point that little luster remains or they have been cleaned and stripped of their original surface. There are a few nice relatively high grade examples known that have above-average luster and these are considered very desirable by specialists.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is a light to medium green-gold. There are also a few that have orange-gold highlights. It is unlikely that there are more than a dozen 1855-O eagles left that have original coloration.
EYE APPEAL: This date has below-average to average quality eye appeal. The typical example is somewhat weakly struck and very abraded. There are a few relatively attractive pieces known but these are not frequently offered for sale. It is interesting to note that the Bass collection, which contained the most impressive array of No Motto New Orleans eagles ever offered for sale, had just two examples: a cleaned EF and a raw coin cataloged as “EF40” which I graded AU50+.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no significant die characteristics seen on either the obverse or the reverse.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There are two varieties known:
Variety One: All four digits in the date are repunched to the right. The date is higher than on Variety Two with the 1 closer to the neck. The mintmark is placed high in the field and is close to the arrow feather. It is positioned over the gap between the E and N in TEN. This reverse was also used to strike certain of the 1854-O Small Date eagles. This is a rare variety.
Variety Two: The date is lower in the field with the 1 far from the neck. The digits do not show repunching. Same reverse as on Variety One This is the more common of the two varieties.