David Akers (1975/88): This date is slightly more rare than the 1843-O and is comparable overall to the lower mintage 1842-O. Almost all known specimens are in the VF to EF range and AU and uncirculated examples are very rare. (Several pieces that I have seen which were uncirculated from the standpoint of actual wear had matte-like surfaces from long time immersion in salt water.) I am unaware of the existence of any specimen that could be described as "choice" or "gem" uncirculated. However, there is one proof known. It is from the Parmelee Collection (sold in 1890) and described as a "sharp and perfect proof". (see coin# 8803)Doug Winter: The 1844-O is one of three New Orleans eagles from the 1840s with a mintage of over 100,000. It is among the more common issues from this decade but it is a very rare coin in higher grades.
The 1844-O is one of the more common New Orleans eagles from the 1840s. It can be found with relative ease in VF and EF grades. It becomes scarce in the lower AU grades and is rare in the higher AU range. It is extremely rare in Uncirculated. There is a unique Proof known.
STRIKE: This is a reasonably well struck issue that generally has all of the central detail plainly visible, with the exception of the curls below LIB in LIBERTY and those behind the ear, which are weak. The reverse is better struck, although weakness is sometimes seen on the eagle’s neck feathers.
SURFACES: Most 1844-O eagles are found with heavily abraded surfaces but it is possible to find a comparatively clean example. There are a number that show scratches or damage and I have seen an unusually high number of coins with serious rim dents. There are more “no grade” 1844-O eagles than many other dates of this era. A small hoard of “seawater” pieces is known. These have the sharpness of Uncirculated coins but are mattelike due to exposure to salt water. These are usually not encapsulated by the major grading services.
LUSTER: The luster on 1844-O eagles ranges from frosty to prooflike. The majority of the ones that I have seen are the former but I know of at least a half dozen that were quite reflective. However, nearly all of these were heavily abraded and not attractive as a result.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is a medium to deep green-gold hue. Some are seen with nice orange-gold toning. There are a number of 1844-O eagles remaining with very nice color but more often than not, examples of this date have been cleaned or dipped. This is especially true with higher grade examples which are extremely hard to find with natural color.
EYE APPEAL: This date has average quality eye appeal. The typical piece is relatively well struck with abraded surfaces and some luster showing. If a collector is patient, he should be able to locate a decent quality example although AU55 and better coins with original color are seldom offered.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: Some show raised die lines on the obverse from the denticles out to the area between the second and fourth stars. A number of the vertical stripes protrude into the vertical stripes in the shield. Late die states have cracks on the obverse between stars four and six.
MAJOR VARIETIES: I am aware of two varieties. It is possible that another exists.
Variety One: The date is strongly punched and positioned high in the field. The mintmark is repunched within its center. It is positioned over the far left part of the N in TEN
Variety Two: The date appears to be positioned the same as on Variety One. The mintmark is not repunched and it is positioned somewhat differently than on Variety One. On later die states, the reverse shows extensive die cracks and it eventually shatters. The latest known die state shows a cud at the lower part of the reverse; this is very rare.
According to Walter Breen, six pairs of dies were available for striking 1844-O Eagles.
Despite a relatively high mintage of 118,700 coins, the 1844-O Eagle is a scarce date. The grade seen most frequently is XF40. AU examples are very rare and only a few of pieces are known in Mint State. A single Proof example is known of this date.
In August, 2004, NGC published a partial population report of gold coins recovered from the shipwrecked SS Republic. Included were 32 1844-O Eagles, ranging in grade from AU-50 to MS-62. 20 of the coins were listed as "Doubled O".