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.
The 1854-O is the second most available No Motto New Orleans half eagle, but it is a much scarcer date than generally realized, especially in higher grades. The lack of acclaim that this date receives may be in part due to the availability of the similarly dated quarter eagle.
The 1854-O is the most common New Orleans half eagle from the 1850s but it is a scarcer coin than generally believed. It is most often seen in VF and EF grades. It is scarce in the lower AU grades and very scarce in AU55 to AU58. In Uncirculated, this date is rare and much underrated. I know of two Choice Uncirculated examples and the rest of the encapsulated pieces are in the MS60 to MS61 range.
STRIKE: The strike seen on the 1854-O ranges from very sharp to fairly weak with most pieces showing an average to slightly below average amount of detail. The areas that are most likely to show weakness are the curls around the face and the arrow feathers. The top of the 54 in the date is sometimes weak as well.
SURFACES: This date is found with better quality surfaces than most of the other half eagles produced at this mint during the 1850s. Most have light to medium abrasions seen in the fields but there are a few 1854-O half eagles that are comparatively clean. Later die states show clashmarks which are heaviest at the left side of the central reverse. I have seen a number that are found with poorly prepared planchets and have areas of roughness. These are most often seen in the peripheral areas. A few are also found with dark spots.
LUSTER: The luster is good and has a satiny, slightly reflective texture. A few are known that are frosty.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is yellow-gold or green-gold and when undisturbed this can be very attractive. There are more original 1854-O half eagles than other New Orleans half eagles from this decade but this is still not an easy issue to find with natural color.
EYE APPEAL: The typical 1854-O half eagle has average quality eye appeal. Some are weakly struck at the centers and may have mint-made planchet imperfections, but the quality-conscious date collector who is seeking a nice looking example should be able to locate one with some patience.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: On high grade examples, there are a number of raised die scratches on the neck below the lowest curl. These are not visible on lower grade examples. The vertical lines in the shield appear crude and almost seem like they were strengthened by hand. There is also a considerable amount of die rust seen between each pair of vertical stripes.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There is a single variety known:
Variety One: The 4 in the date does not touch. The mintmark is large and placed high in the field over the VE in FIVE. Late die states show clashmarks on the obverse and reverse.
David Akers (1975/88):
Next to the 1844-O, the 1854-O is the least rare of the New Orleans Mint No Motto Half Eagles. However, it is a very scarce coin in all grades and VF or EF coins make up the majority of the popualtion. Strictly uncirculated specimens are very rare and gems are of the highest rarity. Most 1854-O Half Eagles are quite well struck.
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