Doug Winter: The 1857-O has the third lowest mintage figure of any No Motto eagle from this mint. It is among the scarcest New Orleans issues of this type, comparable in overall and high grade rarity to dates such as the 1849-O, 1852-O, and 1856-O.
The 1857-O is a scarce, low mintage date that is usually seen in VF and EF grades. It is very scarce in AU and it becomes very rare in properly graded AU55. I know of one coin that I would regard as Uncirculated by today’s standards.
STRIKE: This date has an average quality strike for a New Orleans eagle of this era. The obverse center is mostly well detailed with some weakness generally seen on the curl above the ear of Liberty. The stars are typically flat with the first two and final three having no definition on the radial lines. The reverse is well struck with good detail seen on the feathers.
SURFACES: The 1857-O is found with better quality surfaces than the 1855-O and 1856-O. This is not to say that this date can readily be found with choice surfaces but it does not usually show the deep marks seen on these other issues. I have seen a few that had mint-made copper spots and others that had serious scratches or rim bumps.
LUSTER: The luster is somewhat dull and has a satiny texture. A few show a more semiprooflike finish. As most 1857-O eagles are seen below AU50, it is hard to find an example with more than a small percentage of its original mint luster intact.
COLORATION: The normal coloration seen on original examples is a medium green-gold. A few are found with a more russet-gold shade. At one time, it was not hard to find pieces with original color but most 1857-O eagles have been dipped and lightened in the past few years. It is now very hard to find an example with nice color, especially above the EF40 to EF45 range.
EYE APPEAL: This date has average quality eye appeal. Most are seen with a decent strike and better surfaces than on other New Orleans eagles from the 1850s. But this date saw heavy circulation and most are worn to the point that they do not have much in the way of eye appeal.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are two diagonal die scratches on Liberty’s neck up to the curls on the back of the neck. There is die rust between the T and Y of LIBERTY. There are no significant die characteristics seen on the reverse.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There is a single variety known:
Variety One: The date is large and well spaced. It is placed low in the field and is closer to the denticles than to the neck. The mintmark is far from the arrow feather and placed high in the field. It is positioned between the E and the N in TEN.David Akers (1975/88): The 1857-O has the third lowest mintage of any O-Mint Eagle of the No Motto type. It is very rare in any condition, comparable to the 1852-O, 1855-O and 1856-O and very close in overall rarity to the 1848-O and 1849-O. The quality generally available is not very high and VF and EF specimens are as good as one should reasonably expect. A few AU examples are known but only the Bell 1944 coin was ever catalogued as uncirculated. I have not seen that particular piece so I cannot state for certain whether or not it was really mint state. If it was, it could well be unique since no other has been reported.
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