David Akers (1975/88): Both the total mintage and the number of appearances clearly indicate that this is the most common quarter eagle of all the 1840's in all grades. A number of choice uncirculated specimens are known with the finest that I have seen being the piece in Stack's February, 1974 sale, a gem that was purchased by Harry Bass. Many specimens have rust pits on the neck and a tiny die chip in the reverse field to the right of the left wing. The mintmark on the 1843-O is nearly twice the size of the O mintmark on the 1840-O or 1842-O. This larger mintmark is standard on all future quarter eagles from the New Orleans Mint. As is the case with most dates of this period, the 1843-O Small Date is usually very weakly struck.Doug Winter: Production of quarter eagles at the New Orleans mint increased significantly in 1843. Two distinct varieties were produced: the Small Date and the Large Date. The 1843-O Small Date is the most common quarter eagle from this mint as one might expect, considering that nearly one-quarter of all New Orleans quarter eagles ever struck are of this variety. This issue is readily available in all circulated grades and sometimes seen in the lower Mint State grades, but it becomes very hard to locate above MS62.
The 1843-O Small Date is the most common quarter eagle from this mint. It is easy to locate in all circulated grades up to AU55 and is only moderately scarce in properly graded AU58. It is scarcer than generally acknowledged in the lower Uncirculated grades and is rare in MS62. In MS63 and higher this is a rare coin and Gems are extremely rare.
STRIKE: The strike on this variety varies greatly. Some have a good overall level of detail with the exception being the hair below LIBERTY and the eagle’s right leg, which is always soft. Most are fairly weak at the centers and borders. This tends to be more pronounced on late die state coins which show weak details due to extensive die rust and a number of cracks. The collar used to strike this issue appears quite broad and a number have raised wire edges along the obverse border.
SURFACES: Despite the relative availability of the 1843-O Small Date quarter eagle, it is very hard to locate with clean surfaces. Most have dense abrasions in the fields and a number show scratches or hairlines from numismatic abuse.
LUSTER: The luster is among the best seen on any quarter eagle from the New Orleans mint. The texture ranges from frosty to nearly fully prooflike, with most having above average mint frost. On certain late die state coins the frost is mixed with die rust and this creates an interesting semi-grainy texture. A small number have as much reflectivity as I have seen on any gold issue from this mint regardless of denomination.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is a medium to deep green-gold hue. Some have a pronounced orange-gold or yellow-gold shade. There are still a number of original pieces known, but high grade 1843-O Small Date quarter eagles with pleasing rich original color are becoming harder to find every year.
EYE APPEAL: With a bit of patience the collector should be able to find an 1843-O Small Date that has good eye appeal. That said, many of the examples that are currently on the market are not well struck and show an overabundance of abrasions.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: The obverse often has three raised die lumps located on Liberty’s neck and jaw, while the reverse has a raised die chip between the eagle’s right wing and the ME in AMERICA.
MAJOR VARIETIES: I am aware of at least two varieties. I believe that there are others that await discovery by the specialist.
Variety One: The date is centered and is higher than on Variety Two. The stars are well defined and show no evidence of having been lapped. The mintmark is centered above the fraction bar.
Late die states exist with die cracks on much of the reverse. These become heaviest at RICA in AMERICA.
Variety Two: The date is lower than on Variety One. The stars are weak from having been lapped, especially the ones from 10:00 to 1:00. The mintmark is strongly repunched and is located to the left of the fraction bar.
This appears to be the more common of the two varieties.Gordon Wrubel: Quickfinder notes: The Small Date has a CROSSLET 4. Small thin date punches were used. The 1 is well clear of the truncation and dentils. The Large Date has a plain crossbar on the 4 and the 1 almost touches the truncation and dentils.
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