David Akers (1975/88): The 1849-O is rare in all grades, comparable in overall rarity to the 1848-O and more rare than any other O-Mint Eagle of the 1840's except the 1841-O. It ranks in the top 5% of the entire series according to rarity by average grade and in the top third according to auction appearances. The vast majority of known 1849-O Eagles grade only VF, and specimens as high as AU are extremely rare. I have never seen or heard of an uncirculated example.Doug Winter: The 1849-O is the second scarcest New Orleans No Motto eagle from the 1840s and it remains one of the most undervalued gold coins from this mint. As with the 1848-O, this issue has a very distinctive appearance due to its strike.
The 1849-O eagle is a very scarce coin in all grades. When available, it is generally seen in the VF to EF range and is characterized by soft detail and heavily abraded surfaces. It is rare in AU and it becomes very rare in properly graded AU55 to AU58. There are only three or four known in Uncirculated and none of these grade higher than MS60 to MS61.
STRIKE: All 1849-O eagles are distinctly struck with a very flat appearance on the obverse. The stars are always very weak at the centers with no radial line detail while the center has a sunken, semi-concave appearance that resembles the 1848-O. The reverse is a bit sharper but the fields also have a sunken look and the eagle seems to have an odd, almost three-dimensional appearance. The eagle’s right leg, the arrow feathers and the tops of the olive leaves are usually weak as well.
SURFACES: Every example I have seen has heavily abraded surfaces and I am not certain that an 1849-O eagle exists that is clean and problem-free. For some strange reason, nearly all of the higher grade examples known have scratches or major marks on the cheek of Liberty and/or on other easily noticeable locations on the obverse.
LUSTER: Most 1849-O eagles show enough wear that they have little original luster remaining. On the fewer higher grade pieces known, the luster is frosty and somewhat grainy in texture. Most have been cleaned at one time, making it especially hard to find a piece with acceptable luster.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is a medium to deep green-gold with a few displaying rich orange-gold or lemony-gold hues. There are not many 1849-O eagles with natural color and such coins should command a strong premium over the typical scrubbed example offered.
EYE APPEAL: The eye appeal for this issue is well below average. All 1849-O eagles are weakly struck and very abraded and most have been cleaned or dipped. I can count on one hand the number of truly attractive pieces that I have personally seen.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: On the obverse there is a small patch of die rust near the lips of Liberty. On some coins, die file marks connect the hair bun and the curls below. There are a number of raised die file marks on the reverse around the eagle.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There are three varieties known:
Variety One: Normal date, hollow ring on shield. The date is higher than on Variety Three. The reverse has a hollow ring or punchmark on the second stripe in the vertical lines in the shield. The NI in UNITED are connected at the tops and bottoms of these two letters. The mintmark is placed evenly above the E and N in TEN. This reverse is also found on New Orleans eagles struck in 1851, 1852 and 1853.
Variety Two: Normal date, normal shield. Reverse of 1847-1848. The mintmark is tilted slightly to the left and it is above the left serif of the N in TEN There is no punchmark as on the other reverse used this year. Usually seen with a reverse crack at the top of TEN D with later states showing an extension of the crack to the top of the N in United.
Variety Three: Lightly repunched date, hollow ring on shield. The 4 in the date is lightly filled in the upper part of its interior. The date is placed slightly lower in the field than on Variety One and Variety Two. The reverse is the same as on Variety One.