Doug Winter: The 1841-O is the second rarest No Motto New Orleans eagle in terms of overall rarity and the single rarest in high grade, eclipsing even the better known 1859-O. Among New Orleans eagles, it is the third rarest issue of this denomination, trailing only the 1859-O and the 1883-O. It has the third lowest mintage of any eagle from this mint and is among the rarest gold coins of any denomination from New Orleans. It is made further desirable by the fact that it is the first year in which this mint produced the eagle denomination.
The 1841-O eagle is very scarce in all grades. Most of the examples I have seen grade from VF20 to EF40 and are not choice, with numerous marks and detracting abrasions on the surfaces. Properly graded high end EF coins are extremely scarce. There are approximately a half dozen accurately graded AU coins known, and just one that might qualify as Uncirculated by today’s standards.
STRIKE: This is not a well struck issue. The obverse is nearly always seen with considerable softness on the stars, with most not showing any radial lines. The curls around the face are also soft as is the hair bun and coronet tip. The reverse is better struck with good detail often seen on the feathers of the eagle. The lettering is not as sharp and on some coins the tops of the letters may be faint. This is not an easy coin to grade as the weakness of strike on the obverse may be confused with wear.
SURFACES: There are few Liberty Head eagles of any date that are harder to find with acceptable surfaces than the 1841-O. Virtually every example I have seen is excessively abraded with very deep, highly detracting marks seen in the fields. A few also have small mint-made planchet chips or laminations.
LUSTER: Most 1841-O eagles are worn to the point that they show virtually no luster. On the few higher grade pieces known, the luster is prooflike and actually quite reflective. Many of the coins graded EF40 to AU50 by the grading services have been scrubbed at one time and the prooflike finish has been destroyed or greatly lessened.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is an attractive deep green-gold. The two finest known 1841-O eagles (see below) both have attractive orange-gold and reddish toning. Very few display original color and such pieces should command a strong premium over the now-ubiquitous harshly scrubbed examples most collectors are offered.
EYE APPEAL: With a few exceptions, most 1841-O eagles have decidedly below average eye appeal. This is due to the fact that they are not well struck, are heavily abraded and have been cleaned or dipped at one time.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: Light clashmarks can be seen at the center of the obverse, usually outlining the portrait of Liberty. There is a diagonal die line on the reverse that transverses a number of the horizontal lines in the shield.
MAJOR VARIETIES: All 1841-O eagles were struck from a single obverse and reverse die pair:
Variety One: The date is small and well centered. The mintmark is tall and oval in shape. It is placed high and nearly touches the arrow feather. It is positioned over the left side of the N in TEN. The tip of the lowest feather points to the 2:00 position on the side of the mintmark.
David Akers (1975/88): The typical 1841-O is VF, heavily bagmarked, with partially prooflike surfaces. Accurately graded EF or AU specimens are very rare and I have seen only one at the AU level. To the best of my knowledge, no fully mint state example is known to exist. This date has the lowest mintage of this type from 1839-1859.
Grand Lake collection - Heritage 2/2009:2862, $25,300 - Ellen D Collection (PCGS Set Registry) - Simpson Collection
Elmer S. Sears 1920 - John H. Clapp - Eliasberg - Bowers & Ruddy 10/1982:665, $4,400 - Anthony Terranova - Stack's 10/1986:934 - Stack's 10/1989:1535 - Warren Miller - Heritage 10/1995:6238, $14,300