1850-O $20 XF40

PCGS#: 8903

Owner's Comments

Estimated grade. Ex. Merkin Sale (1966) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $7700

Expert Comments

David Akers (1975/88): The 1850-O is very scarce in all grades although, from the standpoint of total number of specimens known, it is the third most common Double Eagle from the New Orleans Mint. (The 1851-O and 1852-O are the two dates that are more common.) Virtually the entire known population of 1850-O Double Eagles grades VF or EF and strictly graded AU's are quite rare. In full mint state, the 1850-O is excessively rare, if not unknown. In high grade this issue is on a par with most of the other early O-Mint issues, and is actually more rare than the highly touted 1879-O. I have personally examined two borderline uncirculated (AU55+) specimens but have not seen a true unc. Acording to rarity by average grade, the 1850-O ranks 4th out of the entire 204 coin Double Eagle series. Every specimen that I have seen was either semi-prooflike or fully prooflike.


Doug Winter: The 1850-O was the first double eagle produced at a branch mint. For many years, it was regarded as a common date. As the Type One double eagle series has become more popular (and better researched) collectors have learned that this is, in fact, a hard issue to locate above EF-45. The 1850-O has proven to be quite rare in the middle About Uncirculated grades, very rare in the higher range of this grade, and extremely rare in Mint State.

The 1850-O is not really hard to locate in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. It is very scarce in the lower About Uncirculated grades and most of the examples in this range are characterized by heavily abraded surfaces. High end About Uncirculated pieces are truly rare and this issue is extremely rare in full Uncirculated.

STRIKE: The 1850-O is not struck as sharply as the 1850 Philadelphia double eagle. However, it is still better struck than many of the other double eagles from New Orleans. On the obverse, the hair is mostly defined, although some specimens are weak on the curls around Liberty's face. The border is less well detailed and it is common to see pieces that are weak on the date and some of the stars. The reverse shows a similar pattern of strike with the center sharper than the border.

SURFACES: Nearly every 1850-O double eagle has extensively abraded surfaces. These marks are deep and often very detracting. Any piece that is only moderately abraded is extremely scarce and considered very desirable by knowledgeable collectors.

LUSTER: Most are worn and abraded to the point that they show little remaining luster. On higher grade 1850-O double eagles, the luster is not especially good and it tends to display a slightly mattelike texture. A few semi-prooflike pieces have been seen as well.

COLORATION: The natural coloration is a medium to deep green-gold. Some original coins display subtle orange-gold shadings as well. It is difficult to locate an 1850-O double eagle with good color. A hoard of 50-100 pieces entered the market in the mid-1990s and these were characterized by dark, unappealing color with black smudges frequently seen in the fields. Very few of these have not been dipped in the ensuing decade.

EYE APPEAL: It is hard to locate an 1850-O double eagle with good eye appeal. Most are not well struck and have surfaces that are riddled with detracting abrasions. The small number that exist with good overall eye appeal typically trade for levels in excess of current published valuations.

DIE CHARACTERISTICS: The mintmark is repunched downwards. This can be seen even on lower grade examples. There are some small raised die lumps near the nostril and other areas of rust on Liberty's portrait. A number of the stars on the obverse are doubled. There are diagonal die lines and patches of roughness in the vertical stripes in the shield.

MAJOR VARIETIES: There are two varieties known to me:

Variety One: Open 5. The date is lightly struck and placed slightly low in the field, The ball of the 5 does not touch the upper part of this digit. The mintmark is lightly impressed and is placed above the N in TWENTY.

Variety Two: Closed 5. The date is a bit heavier than on Variety One and is placed slightly higher in the field. The ball of the 5 just about touches the upper part of this digit. The reverse appears to be the same as on Variety One.

It is likely that other minor positional varieties exist.

Diameter: 34.00 millimeters Designer: James Barton Longacre Edge: Reeded
Mintage: 141,000 Weight: 33.40 grams Metal Content: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

Rarity and Survival Estimates

Grades Survival Estimate Numismatic Rarity Relative Rarity by Type Relative Rarity by Series
All Grades 626 R-5.7 18 / 44 TIE 33 / 148 TIE
60 or Better 1 R-10.0 1 / 44 TIE 1 / 148 TIE
65 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 44 1 / 148

Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS61 PCGS grade
2 AU58 PCGS grade
2 AU58 PCGS grade  
2 AU58 PCGS grade  
2 AU58 PCGS grade