Ron Guth: In 1838, its first year of operation, the New Orleans Mint produced only Half Dimes for circulation (the ultra-rare 1838-O Half Dollars were only struck as Proofs). Though this fact adds little to the value or desirability of this date, it is an interesting reflection on the capabilities of the New Orleans Mint during its early years.
The 1838-O Half Dime has a relatively low mintage. The scarcity of this date really shows up in the PCGS Population report. Of the 57 examples certified in all grades by PCGS (as of June 2011), only 15 are Mint State. Almost 1,000 examples have been certified of the 1837 No Stars Half Dime (including both varieties). Of the Mint State 1838-O Half Dimes, most grade only MS-62. Only one example, a splendid MS-66 has been graded finer than MS-64 by PCGS. Thus, the Condition Census for this date ranges from a low of MS-63 to a high of MS-66.