The Survival Estimate represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in three categories: 1) all grades, 2) 60 or better, and 3) 65 or better. These estimates are based on a variety of sources, including population reports, auction appearances, and personal knowledge. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Numismatic Rarity converts the Survival Estimate for a particular coin into a number from 1 to 10 (with decimal increments) based on the PCGS Rarity Scale. The higher the number, the more rare the coin.
Relative Rarity By Type
Relative Rarity By Type ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this Type. Lower numbers indicate rarer coins.
Relative Rarity By Series
Relative Rarity By Series ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this Series. Lower numbers indicate rarer coins.
David Akers (1975/88):
This is a fairly common date, but most available specimens are well worn. Truly choice specimens are very rare. Some specimens show prominent clash marks on the obverse.
The mintage figure for the 1854-O is only around ten percent greater than the 1851-O and 1852-O quarter eagles but the 1854-O is a much more available coin, especially in lower grades. In Uncirculated, the 1854-O is far scarcer than people generally believe.
The 1854-O is one of the two most common New Orleans quarter eagles. It is easily located in all circulated grades. In Uncirculated it is much scarcer than generally believed and it is rare and undervalued in MS62. In any grade above this the 1854-O is rare and I am aware of just one or two that grade MS64.
STRIKE: Some 1854-O quarter eagles show a good quality of strike on the obverse with nearly full detail on the hair of Liberty and full radial lines in the stars. The reverse is invariably less well struck with weakness around the shield, the eagle’s left talon and on the right leg. Others are very softly struck with a sunken appearance that greatly weakens the detail at the centers. It is not unusual to see the 1854-O with die swelling on the obverse that weakens the date at the center but leaves it strong at its top and base. There are enough well struck examples around that the patient collector should be able to locate a sharp 1854-O with little effort.
SURFACES: There are a number of mint-made peculiarities seen on this issue. Many were struck from sharply clashed dies. There are clashmarks around the head of Liberty and at times these are extremely pronounced. Clashmarks are also seen at the center of the reverse, particularly behind the eagle’s head. A number were struck with a die that shows considerable wear at the obverse border. Behind the stars and the date there is a circular pattern of die wear or stress that gives the 1854-O a unique appearance. Coins without this look are considerably preferable as they have better eye appeal.
LUSTER: Many different textures are seen on this issue. The majority of 1854-O quarter eagles are frosty with a “ring” of roughness in the die around the periphery that provides contrast. Some are grainy in texture. A few are semi-prooflike and have frosted devices. I have seen three or four that were almost totally prooflike and were far more reflective than any other gold issue from the New Orleans mint that I can recall. The overall quality of luster for this issue is better than on any New Orleans quarter eagle from the 1850s.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is better than that seen on any other New Orleans quarter eagles from this decade. The hues range from rich orange-gold to a more typical medium to deep green-gold. It is still reasonably easy to find a piece with nice color although more and more are displaying evidence of having been cleaned or dipped.
EYE APPEAL: The typical 1854-O is unattractive due to its irregular quality of strike. There are some pleasing pieces known and, surprisingly, these do not sell for much of a premium over typical examples.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: The primary distinguishing characteristics for this date are mentioned above.
DIE VARIETIES: There are numerous varieties known. I have been able to identify the following:
Variety One: The 1 in the date is low and does not touch the base of the neck. The 54 in the date is close but does not touch. The mintmark is high and touches the arrow feather. The right side of the mintmark is even with the fraction bar.
Variety Two: The date is high with the 1 close to the bust. The 5and the 4 in the date are not close. The obverse is often cracked between stars one and two with this break extending towards Liberty’s chin. The obverse often shows roughness in the die near stars one and two. The mintmark is high with part of the arrow feather inside of it. It is placed to the left of the fraction bar.
Variety Three: The date is the lowest on any variety of this year that I have seen with the digits closer to the denticles than to the truncation of the neck. The 1 in the date is embedded in two denticles and rests atop a third. The 54 is not close. The mintmark is high and is barely entered by the arrow feather at the inside right. This variety is usually seen struck from clashed dies.
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