Estimated grade. Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $770
Doug Winter: The 1894-O is a considerably scarcer coin in Uncirculated grades than the 1893-O. It is still one of the more available New Orleans half eagles in terms of overall rarity but it is considerably scarcer in higher grades than most people realize.
It is most often seen in EF and AU. It is scarce in MS60, very scarce in MS61 and quite rare in properly graded MS62. I have only seen one coin that I felt graded MS63 and none better than this.
STRIKE: The 1894-O is not as well struck as the 1892-O or 1893-O half eagles. Most are weak on the curls around the face and have a general lightness on the obverse. The stars are sharp and usually show full radial lines. The reverse is better struck than the obverse but some have weakness on the eagle’s right leg.
SURFACES: Every example of this date that I have seen displays extensive deep abrasions on the obverse and reverse. All three of the With Motto half eagles are seen with this sort of appearance but the 1894-O is likely to be the most “baggy” of this trio. I have seen a number that had copper spots or small dark mint-made black specks in the fields.
LUSTER: The luster is below average. Some are frosty with a somewhat subdued, semi-granular texture while others are prooflike. The prooflikes seen for this date can be fairly reflective but they are seldom attractive due to heavy abrasions.
COLORATION: The natural color most often seen is a light yellow-gold shade with others a deeper green-gold or rose. It is more difficult to find an 1894-O half eagle with original color than it is an 1893-O as an inordinately high percentage of the survivors have been dipped at one time.
EYE APPEAL: This date has below average eye appeal. Many pieces are not well struck at the centers and nearly every piece has extensively abraded surfaces. Coins with better than average surfaces are quite rare and should sell for a strong premium in comparison to the typical bright, excessively abraded example.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no significant die characteristics visible on the obverse or on the reverse.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There are two varieties known:
Variety One: The date is large and placed somewhat high in the field. The mintmark is similar in shape to that seen on the 1893-O. It is placed high in the field and close to the talon. On this variety it is positioned above the middle of the V in FIVE.
Variety Two: The date is large and placed somewhat high in the field. The mintmark is a bit lower and placed slightly to the right of the center of the VE in FIVE.David Akers (1975/88): The 1894-O is the last Liberty Head Half Eagle from this mint. The 1894-O is not nearly as rare as the 1892-O but instead is much closer in overall rarity to the higher mintage 1893-O. The typical specimen is fairly high grade, EF or AU, and average uncirculated specimens are only moderately rare. However, choice or gem quality mint state pieces are very rare and seldom appear on the market.