PCGS grade. Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $880
Doug Winter: For reasons that are still not really known, production of the half eagle denomination was resurrected in New Orleans in 1892 after a lapse of thirty-five years. Only 10,000 were struck and the scarcity of this date remains unknown to most non-specialists. This is an interesting date as it is among the rarest New Orleans half eagles in terms of overall rarity, but it is actually a relatively available issue in higher grades.
The 1892-O half eagle is a very scarce date in any grade and it is easily the rarest With Motto half eagle from this mint. It is seldom seen in grades lower than AU55, indicating that it did not see widespread use in commerce. The typical piece grades AU55 to MS60 and is characterized by very heavy abrasions. This date becomes rare in properly graded MS62 and it is extremely rare above this, with just two pieces known higher than this as of the end of 2005.
The 1892-O to 1894-O New Orleans half eagles constitute a different type from the 1840-1857 issues due to the placement of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse.
STRIKE: The With Motto half eagles from New Orleans are generally found much better struck than the No Motto issue. The 1892-O is usually seen with a good strike. The obverse has nearly complete detail on the hair with the exception of the curls below BER in LIBERTY which can be weak. The stars have full radial lines and the date is sharp. The reverse is also bold with full detail noted on the eagle’s feathers.
SURFACES: Every example of this date that I have seen has heavy to very heavy abrasions on the surfaces. This tends to be the case with all With Motto New Orleans half eagles and this is probably due to large amounts of these coins having been shipped loose in bags to overseas locations. A few have been seen with small mint-made dark spots in the fields. I have also seen a few with odd roller marks which were caused by improper preparation of the planchet.
LUSTER: The Luster is very good and tends to show a very rich frosty texture. There are a few semi-prooflike pieces known and I have even seen a small number that were nearly fully prooflike.
COLORATION: The coloration is often a deep orange-gold with deeper orange-gold shadings around the edges. This gives a sort of “halo” effect which is quite attractive. Until a few years ago it was not hard to locate an 1892-O half eagle with original color, but many have since been dipped.
EYE APPEAL: The level of eye appeal for this issue is average quality. Most 1892-O half eagles did not enter circulation (or if so, they circulated for a short time only) but they are very heavily abraded. I have only seen a small number of examples that I would regard as attractive.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There is a semi-circular die scratch down from the top of the R in LBERTY to the bottom of the Y in this word. This fades on later die states.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There is a single variety known:
Variety One: The mintmark is medium sized and has a very narrow opening which gives it a peculiar, unique shape. It is placed above the V in FIVE and is much further to the left than on the other With Motto Liberty Head half eagles from New Orleans.David Akers (1975/88): The 1892-O has the lowest mintage of any New Orleans Mint Half Eagle (it is tied in that regard with the 1856-O) and it is a rare coin in any condition. Most known specimens are fairly high grade, in the EF to AU range, but strictly uncirculated examples are very rare. Of the very few uncs I have seen, none could really be called choice and therefore I consider this date to be extremely rare at the choice or gem level.
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