Estimated grade. Ex. Walton; Stacks (1963) Sold by David Akers Numismatics May '98 Price realized $3300
Doug Winter: This is the first of two major varieties seen on the 1854-O eagle. While traditionally designated as a Small Date, the logotype used is actually more suggestive of a Medium Date. For many years, this was believed to be the more common of the two varieties by a large margin while I feel this variety is more available than the Large Date in terms of overall rarity, I feel it is scarcer in high grades.
The 1854-O Small Date is the scarcer of the two varieties known for this year. It is generally seen in VF and EV grades and is scarce in the lower AU range. It becomes rare in properly graded AU55, and nice AU58s are very rare. I am aware of just two or three Uncirculated pieces and neither of these is very choice.
STRIKE: This variety is found with a better strike than the 1854-O Large Date, but it still can not be described as a sharply struck issue. The obverse almost always is weak at the center with the curls around the face often not fully separated. The bun is often weak as well. The stars are usually flat at the centers with no radial line detail; on some pieces, a few of the stars may be sharper. The reverse is a bit better struck but often shows weakness on the arrow feathers, right leg and left claw. The mintmark may be faint as well.
SURFACES: Nearly every 1854-O Small Date eagle I have seen is extensively abraded on both the obverse and the reverse. Any piece with choice surfaces should be considered very desirable.
LUSTER: The luster is satiny with a slight grainy texture. Many are so extensively abraded that the luster is impaired.
COLORATION: The natural coloration tends to be a light to medium orange-gold. Most examples of this variety have been cleaned or dipped at one time, making those coins with original color very difficult to find.
EYE APPEAL: The 1854-O Small Date eagle has below average eye appeal. This is due to the fact that most pieces are excessively abraded and lack attractive natural coloration. Pieces that are choice and original are much more difficult to locate than most people realize.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are a number of heavy die lines on the head band, including vertical ones from the curls up through ER in LIBERTY and heavy horizontal ones through TY in LIBERTY.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There is just a single variety known:
Variety One: The date is very low with the 1 close to the denticles and distant from the neck. The 54 is not touching. On some coins, the date is lightly impressed, especially on the top of the digits. Many examples have a die crack running from the border through the left side of the 8 to the neck. The mintmark is high and small. It is placed between the claw and the arrow feather over the gap between the E and N in TEN. Breen-6913.
David Akers (1975/88): The 1854-O has virtually the same mintage as the 1853-O and 1854 but it is more common, all grades considered, than either of them. However, almost all known 1854-O Eagles are well worn with VF the predominant grade. In high grade, AU or uncirculated, the 1854-O is extremely rare and I have not personally seen a mint state piece.
The 1854-O comes with both small and large dates. The latter is much the rarer of the two and is seldom available in any condition. The difference in date size is great (unlike the 1842 for example where the difference is rather small).