Estimated grade. Ex. Kelly Sale (1957) Sold by David Akers Numismatics May '98 Price realized $132000
David Akers (1975/88): This is a very scarce date, particularly in grades better than EF. The standard condition for the 1846-O is VF and weakly struck. The last two numerals in the date are very crude, but crude numerals are typical of 1846 quarter eagles from every mint.Doug Winter: The mintage figure for New Orleans quarter eagles increased substantially in 1846. This date is slightly rarer in overall rarity than the 1847-O, 1851-O and 1852-O.
The 1846-O is scarcer than the 1847-O, 1850-O, 1851-O and 1852-O quarter eagles in terms of overall rarity. In higher grades, these dates are very similar in rarity. This date is most often seen in EF40 to AU50. It is scarce in the medium About Uncirculated grades and rare in properly graded AU58. There are between nine and twelve Mint State 1846-O quarter eagles known, including one superb example and two very choice pieces.
STRIKE: Approximately three-quarters of the known 1846-O quarter eagles are weakly struck. The obverse is a bit better detailed than the reverse but shows softness on the curls around the face and the top of the bun. The stars are sometimes weak at the centers while the denticles from 1:00 to 5:00 are softly impressed. On the typical example the reverse is very soft, especially at the center. The eagle’s right leg and claw are weak, the shield lacks complete detail and the left claw is indistinct. There are some known that show almost no detail at the centers and these have to be graded by the amount of visible luster.
A small number show a rotated reverse. The orientation is most often at a 45 to 90 degree orientation. While rare and interesting, these are not typically accorded a premium by specialists.
Some 1846-O quarter eagles are known with a good strike and I have even seen a few sharp pieces. These are extremely hard to locate and should sell for a higher level than typical strikes.
It has long been claimed that an 1846/44-O quarter eagle exists. I do not believe this to be the case. The cataloger in the Bass sale explained this eloquently:
“What is the stub under the 6 in the date? Upon examination of this piece (as well as others from this logotype punch) it appears that the logotype was shifted and the repunching occurred. A small line in the top of the 6 certainly resembles the diagonal from a 4, but within the base of the 6 the repunchings are all curved or circular in appearance, indicating a repunched 6 not a 4. Related repunchings, differing in some detail, occur among other denominations and dies of this date”
SURFACES: The 1846-O is among the most difficult quarter eagles from this mint to locate with clean surfaces. Nearly all are heavily abraded and many show scratches or hairlines from poor handling.
LUSTER: The luster is soft and frosty with an appearance that is similar in quality to that seen on the 1847-O quarter eagle. There are a few known with slightly reflective fields but these usually have a dull, grainy texture and are not attractive.
COLORATION: The natural coloration ranges from light yellow-gold to a deeper orange and reddish-gold. Some show a ring of deep color at the periphery which contrasts the lighter shades at the center. A number of 1846-O quarter eagles have small mint-made spots which are often deep red in hue. It is hard to find an original piece as most have been cleaned or dipped at one time.
EYE APPEAL: The typical 1846-O quarter eagle has below average eye appeal. Many are very weak at the centers and many have peripheral weakness as well. The surfaces are prone to show numerous detracting marks and may have been cleaned or dipped.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: On some there are a series of raised die lines behind the final star. Many have numerous large raised dies on the reverse from above the F in OF to over the right side of the M in AMERICA.
DIE VARIETIES: I am aware of three varieties. It is highly likely that others exist.
Variety One: The mintmark is entirely to the left of the fraction bar and the arrow feathers do not penetrate the mintmark. This variety always has prominent raised die lines on the reverse from 1:00 to 3:00 and is easy to identify as a result. Dies of Bass III: 162.
Variety Two: The right side of the mintmark is past the fraction bar and the arrow feathers enter the mintmark. This variety is often seen with very weak centers.
Variety Three: The mintmark is high with the tip of the arrow feather within the mintmark and it points to the center of the same. The right side of the 1 in the fraction is in line with the outer curve of the mintmark and the fraction bar is below the right inside curve of the mintmark. There are several vertical shield lines that extend upwards into the horizontal lines and many extend beyond the bottom of the shield. Dies of Bass III: 161.