Estimated grade. Ex. Donlon; Kosoff Sale (1956) Sold by David Akers Numismatics May '98 Price realized $247.5
David Akers (1975/88): This date is not particularly scarce in lower grades but is very difficult to obtain in full mint state. One interesting variety of this date has a double date. The first date was punched sloping down to the right and then was only partially effaced before the date was punched into the proper position.Doug Winter: The mintage figure for this date is the second highest of any New Orleans quarter eagle. It is a much scarcer coin than the lower mintage 1845-O and is comparable to dates such as the 1850-O and 1852-O in high grades.
The 1851-O is among the more common New Orleans quarter eagles, although it is scarcer than its relatively high mintage suggests. It is most easily found in VF and EF grades. It becomes scarce in the higher AU grades and is rare in Uncirculated. There are perhaps four or five Choice to Very Choice pieces known and a single Gem.
STRIKE: The quality of strike varies greatly. The obverse is always sharper than the reverse. Some pieces show good detail on the obverse with most of the curls around the face fully detailed. Others are not as sharp on this side and may have weakness at the center that is especially prominent on the curls below the ear and the bun. The stars are usually full and sharp with strong radial lines. The reverse is almost always weak on the eagle’s right leg and the neck feathers. On some coins, the wing tips are very blunt. To accurately grade an 1851-O quarter eagle it is important to pay more attention to the obverse than the reverse because of this peculiarity of strike.
SURFACES: Most 1851-O quarter eagles have numerous marks in the fields. I have seen a number that had scratches. Others show mint-made discoloration, usually around the obverse periphery.
LUSTER: The luster is frosty with a somewhat grainy texture. It is often somewhat subdued in its appearance although some pieces are known that do show vibrant luster.
COLORATION: Coloration on this date ranges from rich orange-gold to deep green-gold hues. There are some higher grade examples known that display very attractive color. Many have been cleaned or dipped and no longer display their original shadings.
EYE APPEAL: The level of eye appeal seen on the 1851-O quarter eagles varies greatly. The typical coin is irregularly struck, shows a number of marks on the surfaces and has been dipped. There are a small number of comparatively high grade examples that are very attractive with good luster and surfaces. Collectors should be able to find an acceptable piece with patience.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: The most notable die characteristics for this date are the repunched numerals that are described below.
DIE VARIETIES: I am aware of just two varieties including one with a number of die states. Given the high mintage figure of this date, it is likely that at least one other reverse was employed.
Variety One: Doubled Date. Early die states show significant doubling on all four digits of the date. The date was first punched too low and leaning down too far towards the left. The doubling fades to the point where it can be seen only below the final 1. Examples with strong repunching on all four digits are scarce and should sell for a premium over those that have it on only the 51 or the final digit. The mintmark is high but does not touch the olive branch or the talons. A small point of the feather enters the mintmark. Early die states show clashmarks on the reverse; on later states it appears that the reverse was lapped to remove the clashmarks.
Variety Two: The date is somewhat lower than on Variety One with no doubling. The first 1 touches the base of the neck while the base of this digit is free of the denticles. There is some bulging of the die at the final two stars. The mintmark seems very similar to that seen on Variety One but according to Henry Bass it was minutely different.
Normal date examples appear to be very rare.