400 Esplanade Coin Album
Fortin 103. This coin is notable for extreme die rust on the obverse portrait. This must have been an early die state coin as the date and rock base are unusually heavily punched. Most are notable for date weakness from die lapping. The reverse is rotated 10 degrees CCW. This is also the small o variety. According to Gerry Fortin's reference, this variety commands a premium when located.
Ex: Simpson. Breen 3545, "Microscopic O." Howard Rounds Newcomb was one of the pioneer students of minute die varieties among late 19th and early 20th century coinage. He is credited with discovering the first "overmintmark," the 1900-O/CC Dollar. David Lawrence speculates this variety results from an employee using the mintmark punch designated for use on Quarters.
Briggs 2C: Double Die Obverse. While it cannot be fully proven, this coin most likely came out of the New Orleans Hoard of 1982 during excavation of the Meridien Hotel on Canal Street at the Western end of the French Quarter. Water staining is seen on the reverse where a droplet dried along the eagle's right facing wing, leaving behind a rim of dirt/mud. This is best appreciated with coin in hand. In addition, many of these coins are black or have black rims like this one from being in the ground a few hundred yards from the banks of the Mississippi for 140 years. Along with the 1840-o no drapery, the 1841-o was well represented in the New Orleans Hoard of 1982. In addition to several hundred Seated Quarters, a number of silver Spanish coins were found also. Coins from this hoard were generally impaired or corroded from being in the ground for more than a century. Coins not returned in 'body bags' from the grading services are typically lack luster and poorly preserved. I can remember the evening news story about onlookers jumping into a large hole in the pavement (some in their suits) to retrieve the treasure coins. Unfortunately, the photos may not be convincing and lady liberty won't divulge her tale. Full recovery of coins was never completed as the construction firm decided to fill the hole with cement and move along. Long time New Orleans numismatist James Cohen has the most knowledge of the find and has published articles providing historical details. The shield, ribbon, and hand of this coin are subtly doubled. The first three stars on the left are dramatically doubled. According to Larry Briggs' Seated Quarter Encyclopedia, only a few varieties came out of that batch of coins including Briggs 2C.
Briggs 2B. The Briggs 1A is typically a fuller strike, with sharper star centrils and reverse legend. This coin however is only slightly mushy in the periphery. It has very attractive toning and lots of remaining luster. From an original mintage of 520,000, this issue is very difficult to acquire in mint state. Two are known finer, an MS64 and MS64+.
WB-104. This is the variety with the largest mintmark. There is a baseball seam pattern die crack that extends from the rim through the 'L' of Half and off the wing through the'D' of United then to the rim. The other starts from the rim through the 'L' of Dol. out of the edge of the shield and through the 'A' of America to the rim.
Winter Variety 2. This large date variety employs a date punch intended for a silver dollar. A small hoard of these came out of Jackson, TN and likely accounts for the number of higher grade specimens known. As such, large date 54-o's are easier to locate in higher grade than the small date variety.
V-5. The only variety with drapery. Now the reverse letters are larger than the 4 no drapery varieties. The o is small and well centered. There is a small die crack from right stem to edge. Ex: Gardner. At the time of sale, this coin was in a remarkable AU58 holder/green cac. Some experts who examined the coin thought it deserved a higher grade and drove up the auction for a 58cac. Now properly graded and second finest known!
V-4. Medium O. Several reverse die cracks, including U, A & S of states, R & A of America. Even though 815,000 pieces were struck of the 1841-o, it is a rarely encountered issue, especially in high grades. Less than 75 submissions have occurred at the 2 major grading services. However, of those, 3 have achieved at least gem status.
V-2. Slender medium date, small o. Walter Breen, in his Encyclopedia, notes that in Southern commerce prior to the California gold rush, American half dimes were accepted at par with the more valuable Mexican medios. The medio was equivalent to a "half-bit," and had 25% higher metal content. Only a handful of early New Orleans half dimes escaped this powerful inducement to circulate. Only 30 submission events at PCGS for the entire mintage of 350,000.
V-2. All numerals touch base except 8. Two die pairings were used for the New Orleans Mint's emission of 860,000 half dimes in 1851. On survivors of V-1, the first 1 in the date is free of Liberty's rock, whereas on examples of V-2 this digit touches the base of the rock. Even though there was widespread melting of pre-1853 silver coins because they were worth more melted than their face value, the 1851-O half dime is one of the more available issues from this era through choice uncirculated condition. Gems are tough to find though.
V-1. The only known variety. Only 260,000 Seated half dimes were delivered by the New Orleans Mint in 1852, and the coins were melted almost as soon as they were produced. Al Blythe, in his book, The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dimes, rates this issue R.6 overall. Several gems are known and one has achieved an MS66 rating. This is a fully white lusterous example with a well executed strike. Only minor rub over high points accounts for the 2 point deduction from mint state.
V-3, late die state. By the time this coin was struck, the die shattered. Extensive cracking can be seen around the periphery of both sides including the cracks to the devices. The 1856-o is underappreciated as a rarity in the seated half dime series. Only 67 submission events are known at PCGS to date and only 4 coins have achieved a gem or better certification.
V-1. high date, die crack thru stars 1-5. low 7 in date. vertical line at rock base on left. With a mintage of 1.38 million, the 1857-o is a relatively common date. Apparently a number were set aside in mint condition as Al Blythe's 1992 reference on the series only rates the '57-O as R.3 in Unc. From the #1 ranked, retired Sounder Type Set at NGC.
The New Orleans mint opened three years after Andrew Jackson signed legislation creating new branch mints at Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans. On April 9, 1838, the Philadelphia Mint shipped two pairs of dime dies to the newly opened branch mint, and the first coins, 30 dimes, were struck on May 8th. Dies were shipped from Philadelphia before the decision was made to add 13 stars to the obverse. As a result, all 1838-o half dimes and dimes are from the previous No Stars design. The 1838-o is not only the first branch mint dime in U.S. coinage history, but it is also the only branch mint issue of the No Stars type. Only 5 coins have achieved gem status at PCGS of the original mintage of 406,034. A total of 367,434 of Fortin 101 were struck in June and July 1838 and finally the remainder were struck in January 1839 as Fortin 102s.
Fortin 106a. The "Shattered Cobweb" reverse. While this coin has seen moderate circulation, the extensive circular reverse die cracks are still noticable on this rare and highly sought after variety. Unfortnuately my scans do not pick this up well, and perhaps they are not as dramatic as well preserved specimens. Most noticeable are the cracks through the bottom of the wreath and the upper right lettering. Star 5 is boldly repunched on the obverse.
Fortin 108, A-5: low date with upward slope, small O, open bud reverse. Among 3 mint mark varities the medium O is probably the rarest for this date. In addition, a closed bud reverse variety is highly sought after by variety collectors of this series. From 1838 to 1840 the closed bud reverse design was used on all New Orleans dimes. In 1841 a new reverse design with open buds in the wreath was introduced into New Orleans dime production. Thus a new obverse design with drapery and a new reverse design were used for the production of 1841-O dimes. However, at least one old closed bud reverse die was used in 1841. In Brian Greer's reference on Seated dimes (1992) he reported that only 10 examples of the Small O, closed bud and 20 pieces of the Large O, closed bud variety were known. At just a shade over 2 million coins, the 1841-O boasted the highest mintage of any dime minted at any mint up to that time, and it remained the second highest mintage dime until the 1853 With Arrows. In higher grades of mint state this issue is difficult to locate with only 1 gem at PCGS. The features of this coin seem typically struck, but are bathed in rich golden hues adding to the eye appeal of this coin.
Fortin 101, A-1. Significant die pitting is noted about the periphery of the reverse. Two mintmark varieties are known. The small o and the medium o, as shown by this example. The 1842-o is quite rare in AU and only a dozen have been certified as mint state. One gem is known at each service.
Fortin 101a: There is die cracking from the right ribbon end to the rim and from AME(R)ICA to the rim. The 1845-o is one of the key issues of the seated liberty series. Fewer than 40 submissions are listed at PCGS. There are only 2 known mint state examples at PCGS, one is in an unimaginable MS69 holder and the other a 62. They just don't come any more original than this.
Fortin 101: only one die pair discovered to date, though Breen lists a small o variety and the mintage would suggest a second pair would be needed. Few 1851-o dimes were saved from circulation and a mere 10 mint state examples have been certified by the 2 major services. There is only one known gem in a 65 NGC holder. A total of 50 submissions have occurred at NGC and PCGS combined.
Fortin 101: There are haloes around obverse stars 6-13. Despite the original mintage of 1.1 million, this short-lived 'with arrows' type coin is challenging in any grade slabbed. Only 60 or so submissions are reported at NGC and PCGS combined. Apparently this was another issue that was heavily circulated with the shortage of smaller denomination silver coins after bullion hoarders took their toll on earlier issues.
Fortin 103: the obverse is shattered with heavy cracking though the left arrow and 1 extending up through the shield. Cracks extend around the entire periphery and rejoin liberty's left foot. The mintmark has been obliquely punched and the top 1/3 is not visible. According to Fortin, this is a very scarce variety. Mint State survivors are considerably more scarce than their Philadelphia counterpart, despite a mintage of 1.8 million.
Fortin 101: the only known die pair. This issue is actually rather elusive as evidenced by its mintage of 299,000. In Brian Greer's Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dimes, the 58-o is known for soft strikes especially at the head, breast , and tail feathers. Luster is usually subdued on mint state pieces.
Fortin 103: medium level date, open 5, with die chips seen about star 5, medium o. A-2, G101. With a limited original mintage of 480,000 coins and a poor rate of survival, the 1859-o is a scarce coin in all mint state grades. This well-struck example is adorned in emerald, citrine, and amythest hues Ex. Superior Worrell Collection Lot 374 Sept 1993.
Fortin 101: only one die pair known. The 1860-o is one of the key issues in the Seated dime series primarily because of a mintage of only 40,000. Its rarity is exceeded only by the 1871-CC, 1873-CC Arrows, and the 1874-CC. It is highly sought after in all grades, and coins with original surfaces are quite unusual and always deserve a premium. There are 3 submissions at NGC achieving mint state status, including one graded MS67.
Fortin 106a. O/O. The 8 & 9 are repunched at the bottom. The attribution is clinched as the remnant of an o is visible within the medium o. See small image. Heavy die clashing is seen at the right of lady liberty. This is the late die state as cracks are beginning to form on either side of the mint mark.
The 1902-o Barber dime is a very scarce issue that is much more difficult to locate than its mintage of 4.5 million pieces would suggest. It is elusive in all Mint State grades and especially challenging in Gem, with slightly more than a dozen available through MS67 (only 1 at NGC in 67). David and John Feigenbaum rank the 1902-o as R.5 in Mint State. This example has beautiful golden and violet toning and a strong strike.
With a mintage of greater than 8 million, the 1903-o dime had the highest mintage of any of the New Orleans Barber dimes. Not suprisingly however, fewer than 20 gem examples have been encapsulated at PCGS and NGC. The lack of preservation likely is explained by the Southern U.S. demand for coined money. This dime is super bright and all white with flashy surfaces. The strike is razor sharp.
Briggs 2B. The Briggs 1A coins show a mintmark far to the left. 1A coins were also found in the famous New Orleans Hoard excavation of 1982 on Canal Street in the French Quarter. This is a highly attractive coin with rainbbow toning on the obverse that is most apparent at certain angles of light. No gems are known.
Briggs 2C, late die state: The 1840-o with drapery is the rarer of the 2 varieties. In addition, there is a large o with drapery subvariety which is truly rare and an enigma to specialists. This coin is notable for heavy die cracking along the reverse lettering accounting for its die state designation and furthermore is said to have been minted in 1841. Many of these coins were apart of the New Orleans Hoard of 1982, though the origin of this coin is unknown.
Briggs 4F. Ex: Ronald W. Brown Acadiana Collection; Doug Winter. As of April 2008, none have been certified above MS63 at NGC and the PCGS population report of 30 for MS64 undoubtedly reflects resubmissions. This date is considered to be R7 in mint state and probably 6 or fewer MS64s exist. Some believe the Pittman coin may be a gem, though this coin certainly deserves that same consideration with no mentionable marks. The rest of the graded population amounts to a mere 40 coins with only a dozen in lower grades of mint state. In addition, the mintage of 769,000 includes coins actually minted as 1841. Ask yourself how often a mint state 42-o appears on the market...rarely.
Briggs 1A: The 1842-o Small Date is not only an absolute rarity but is also a condition rarity, being unpriced in the Guide Book above AU50. There are a couple of Unc's in NGC holders, and maybe one still in a PCGS holder, but not above MS63. This coin is not one of the 10% or so of late die state issues with a notable depression in the left upper portion of the shield and eagle's neck.
Briggs 1A. The mintage of 412,000 is healthy in terms of New Orleans coins. However, like many pre-1853 silver issues, a vast number were lost to melting when bullion prices exceeded the coin's face value. There is only one graded finer in MS64 at PCGS. Typical of this date, there is heavy die rust noted on the obverse with weak peripheral features probably from poor striking and excessive die polishing. Only 2 obverse and 3 reverse dies are thought to have been used.
Briggs 1B. The production of 96,000 is only one of several factors that ensure this issue's rarity. The California gold rush altered the gold-silver ratio allowing speculators to melt silver coins for a slim profit over face value. In addition to poor strikes, 52-o quarters were struck with a collar resulting in flatter rims and faster wear. The majority of survivors are impaired or heavily worn. Only a couple of uncs are known, an MS62 and an MS63. This coin is probably a bit net graded. I suspect it was stored for years in a cabinet face up as the reverse is a pristine, bright MS63-64 with full satiny luster and a nice strike. However, the obverse is dull and has some minor pitting. In addition the obverse strike is flat. I can find no wear on either side of this coin with a loope.
Briggs 2C. Leading up to 1853, few U.S. silver coins remained in circulation, because they were worth more melted than in their coined form. This was driven by the immense discovery of gold in California which lowered the market price of gold and forced silver higher. As described by Walter Breen in his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, this "...eventually [led] to a point where bullion dealers found they could make 'endless chain' profits by melting down silver coins bought for face value and resell the silver. All of the mints' output of silver vanished into hoarders' hands, and most of it went to bullion dealers; less and less silver reached the Mint for coinage, as reflected in the diminishing mintages of 1850-52." The Act of February 21, 1853 ordered a reduced weight in silver coins to discourage further melting. Quarter planchets would now weigh 96 grains compared with the former 103 1/8 grains (6.68 grams reduced to 6.22 grams). To distinguish these coins more easily, Mint Director George Eckert ordered James Longacre to modify the quarter by placing arrows at each side of the date with rays behind the eagle. Similar changes were made for the other denominations also. This design format for the quarters (and half dollars) lasted only one year. For the first time since establishment of the US Mint in 1793, the nation had an adequate supply of fractional coins of uniform quality, though with the side-effect that this workhorse issue was heavily circulated and few were set aside. Only 130 or so have been slabbed by PCGS and NGC (7/08). Only 2 gems are known to exist. This example has even patination and is quite well impressed. Only a small die crack is noted on the obverse extending to the rock at 7 o'clock. It's hard to see 15 points of wear on this coin. There are several rubs on the lower reverse surface of the slab that might be mistaken for wear. Certified by CAC. The attribution is not fully certain as the Type 2 obverse does not have the typical missing die chunk at liberty's neck, though no other obverse characteristics match type 1 or 3. Could this be a new variety???
This coin is housed in the first generation of "old green holders" and is highly lustrous in hand. The photos just don't pick that up. Interestingly, this coin was likely slabbed around 1990-91 when the first green labels were used. The pigment used then was not stable and has now broken down into yellow.
The 1854-o "huge o" is thought to have been born when a mint worker hand cut the mintmark resulting in a large irregular misshapen o. Both sides have numerous die cracks and much detail is lost from die polishing. No unc's are known. The highest graded coin at PCGS is AU58.
Briggs 1B. In this year on the eve of the Civil War, the Seated quarter was produced at three mints, though not one of them had a mintage that exceeded 1 million pieces. The Philadelphia Mint produced only 804,400 coins, with New Orleans contributing 388,000, and San Francisco a meager 56,000. Today the average certified survivor is about EF, nice Aus are rare and unc’s are hard to locate. Six submissions have achieved gem status at the 2 major services, and it would be hard to imagine one more eye appealing than this near gem.
Another interesting variety...the 1892-o/o. The diagnostics are simple. The o mintmark is centered above the R of quarter and tilted right. There is a large, easily visible die chip at the base of the neck seen on some with this variety. Under magnification, remnants of an o are seen within the upper and west portions of the mintmark, and also outside the mintmark low and east. The color of this coin is spectacular.
With a mintage of 3.396 million, the 93-o is relatively obtainable in mint state. It becomes quite elusive at the MS67 level with 6 known at PCGS and NGC. One at NGC has achieved MS68. There are several mint mark varieties based on position. The other commonly encountered variety is notable for the mint mark centered over the left portion of the ‘D’ in Dollar. This coin is beautifully lustrous.
Along with the 04, 06, and 09, the 07 is notable for poor strikes and problem coins. There is a RPD variety, 'GUD' variety, and a 'joker' strike with a gouge at the corner of the mouth. None of these warrant any premium. There are several mint mark positions described as well.
WB-101. Interesting variety produced when the tailhub of 1838 obverse mintmark bust halves was paired with the new seated type obverse. As a result, this product was long thought to be a product of Philadelphia. It was later confirmed that all other 1840-p products had small reverse letters, thus solving the mystery of the 40(o) half.
WB-104. This is the variety with the largest mintmark. There is a baseball seam pattern die crack that extends from the rim through the 'L' of Half and off the wing through the'D' of United then to the rim. The other starts from the rim through the 'L' of Dol. out of the edge of the shield and through the 'A' of America to the rim.
WB-102. The medium date accounts for nearly 80% of the total mintage of this issue. The small date accounts for the rest (WB-101). An errant-4-in-gown (WB-103) is also described and has been found in a small hoard of 31 WB-103s from a Louisiana Hoard (none were MS).
The lustrous surfaces of this near-Gem O-mint half display a mix of low to medium intensity multicolored toning resting over both sides. A well executed strike brings out sharp definition on the design features, and just a few minute obverse ticks define the grade. "Halos," often found on this issue, are visible around the stars of this specimen. The halos around these devices were explained by Wiley and Bugert (1993) as the result of coinage dies being used as temporary master dies to create additional dies. The outlines around the various design elements represent the base of the punch being transferred to a new working coinage die.
WB-102, FS-501. This interesting variety has a sharply repunched date that is easily seen without magnification. The underlying date is entered at an upward angle with portions of the effaced 1 protruding below and the top of the 6 above the recut date. In their reference, authors Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert gave this variety a R-7+ rarity rating in Mint State, meaning just four to six examples of this variety were known to the authors when their book was published. This coin is all white with slightly muted luster. No distracting marks are visible. Typical weakness for this issue is seen at the left facing eagle's claw. Affixed with the CAC hologram.
Many New Orleans issues were heavily circulated and thus not set aside in any significant numbers. First consider the 1883-s Morgan with a mintage of 6.2 million. As of 8/08, more than 3700 have achieved a grade of MS60+ at NGC and PCGS combined. Compare that to the 7.2 million mintage of the 1858o. Only 500 have been submitted to the 2 majors services in all grades. Of those, only 180 have achieved an MS60+ grade. This coin is included in the set for its beautiful even wear and lovely patina. Hard to imagine a nicer circulated example.
WB-101: The date is normal with no die crack thru 6. There is also no die crack through the rim of Liberty's nose. This coin has a myriad of colors when held in natural lighting and the CAC is well deserved. Ex: Ronald W. Brown, Acadiana Collection, Stack's 9/84 Sale, lot 972;
WB-102. Now this half has a real story. The New Orleans area purchaser acquired the half at an estate sale in the late 1990s as a set of 4 old coins. It didn't matter to him that he paid too much for the coins because they had a remarkable story...even better he was able to attribute one coin as a CSA half some time later making his investment golden. The original coins' owner had lived in his family's Garden District mansion for most of the 20th century and was having to sell off some personal items to make ends meet in an initial sale around 1992. The mansion had fallen into great disrepair and had been in continual renovation since World War II. It finally went through a second estate sale in the late 90s. In the first sale, the owner let on that his family had lost all of their valuables during the Civil War when a Union General confiscated them. It was General Benjamin “Spoons” Butler who had become known in the history books for just this. Butler had acquired the infamous nickname ‘Spoons’ from his reputation for stealing silverware among other valuables from area homes in which he resided. It was told that the 4 coins were squirreled away as some of the only possessions not found and pilfered by Spoons. They actually were unknown to the owner until just before the final estate sale in 98-99. This CSA half was found hidden on the 3rd floor along with a 60-o dollar, 58-o half and 61 half. All 4 of the coins have the same super-original patina and all are just barely circulated. This coin is also notable for a web of die cracks through the base of the rock to the perimeter of the coin.
The 92-o is a rare issue in the Barber series and the rarest from New Orleans. Only the 13-p (189k),14-p (125k),15-p (138k) are rarer. It ranks 4/73 in terms of total mintage (390k). It has a very popular and rare major variety, the micro o, that brings huge premiums when found undamaged.
The US Mint released its inventory of silver dollars in 1962-4. It is uncertain how many 60o dollars included but it is accepted that between 1k-6k were let go. The majority of 60o dollars are heavily abraded from rough handling during yearly mint accounting. The Bowers-Borckardt silver dollar Encyclopedia quotes Bruce Amspacher who wrote, "The average BU 1860-O dollar earned the nickname of 'Quaker Oats dollar,' because it looks like it was shot from guns."
The mint had been closed in 1861 after being claimed by Louisiana, then the Confederacy, and finally reclaimed by the U.S. In it's first year of operation since the Civil War, the mint managed to produced 2 quite famous coins numismatically, the Morgan Silver Dollar and the extraordinarily rare 1879-o $20 gold coin with a mintage of 2235. Over the next 30 years many political struggles ensued as operations of the New Orleans Mint were considered superfluous and its operation continued only for the political clout of LA politicans in that era. This first year New Olreans Morgan is all white with an above average strike and a very clean reverse.
The 1882-o is relatively common in lower grades of mint state thanks to massive treasury releases of 1962 and 1963. However, true Gems are scarce and prior to 1996 there were few, if any MS 66 and MS 67 examples certified by the two major grading services. In 1990, a small hoard of exquisitely preserved 1882-o dollars surfaced at Heritage Rare Coin Galleries in Dallas. A family heirloom in the form of an old book had been prepared in 1882 for the 50th wedding anniversary of a New Orleans couple. Twenty new 1882-o Morgan dollars had been purchased from the New Orleans mint and were included with the book. The book and the coins remained together in the family until the day that Heritage purchased the coins. Most of the MS66 coins and one MS67 in the NGC and PCGS population reports originated from this source. There is one MS68 coin, ex. Jack Lee 1&2. This coin is all white and unusually clean in an older generation holder and perhaps an upgrade candidate.
David Bowers (1993) speculates that hundreds of thousands of the 6 million dollars minted at the New Orleans Mint in 1882 are of the O/S variety. This estimate seems reasonable based on its ready availability in circulated grades. Uncirculated examples are another matter entirely, and Bowers states: "The 1882-O/S is very scarce in lower Mint State grades, scarcest in MS64, and very rare in MS65." This coin is beautiful and white with a couple of heavy grade defining marks.
The New Orleans Mint produced 8.7 million Silver Dollars in 1883, a significant total for any era. Since many of these coins were preserved in federal vaults, this issue is among the most common Morgan Dollars in Mint State. Nevertheless, the certified population of the 83-o drops off rapidly above the MS66 grade level, and both major grading services have seen slightly more than 50 coins in MS67 and none finer. This example is meticulously struck with fully deep mirrored fields. Trivial light marks over the cheek limit this conservatively graded beauty. Affixed with the CAC hologram.
The mintage of 9.7 million, the release of huge quantities from storage in the Washington, D.C. Treasury Building in the 1930 and 1950s, and from the Philadelphia Mint in the early 1960s, along with a hoard owned by the Continental-Illinois Bank, all combine to assure the ready availability of this issue in Mint State. Housed in an old green holder, this New Orleans gem is 100% white with an impeccable strike for similar coins of this year.
Older generation holder, possible upgrade candidate and one of the cleanest 66s I've seen. The 2 trivial grazes behind Liberty's head are only visible at certain angles, and of course the scan picks them both up. The rest of the coin is immaculate and nicely struck. This year is known for well-struck, well-preserved specimens as the population figures indicate. There are a surprising number of PL and DM coins also.
The 1886-o is one of the true condition rarities of the Morgan dollar series. The PCGS and NGC population for MS64 is a mere 300 and only 4 coins have achieved gem status. Most of the 10 million coins likely succumbed to melting as a result of the Pittman Act of 1918. In fact, it has been estimated that 6 to 8 million were lost in this manner. Additionally few were saved as evidenced by the ready availability of circulated coins and lack of uncirculated ones. This coin is certainly an exception with a nearly full strike and lovely white surfaces. From the Jack Lee Estate.
In his Silver Dollar Encyclopedia, Dave Bowers notes: "The typical Mint State coin is heavily bagmarked, has dull luster, and is poorly struck. As if that were not enough, it is apt to be in lower grade levels." Quantities of this issue were released from Treasury vaults over a period of years throughout the middle 20th century, with the latest coins being dispersed in 1964, among the last coins paid out. Nearly all of these coins from the Treasury were in the lowest Mint State grades. In fact, one silver dollar specialist stated that he actually found XF and AU grade coins in mint-sewn bags of these dollars. Aside from being all white, this has a very typical strike for New Orleans Morgans with a flat ear and poorly defined breast feathers.
The Philadelphia 1887 Morgan dollar overdate was discovered first in November 1971 by Ted F. Clark and Bob Riethe's identification of the 1887/6-o variant soon followed in 1972, per Q. David Bowers in his Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, Volume Two. Bowers further notes that while the variety was little appreciated in the years immediately following its discovery (for example, Wayne Miller's The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook makes no mention of either 1887 overdate), the Van Allen - Mallis reference made the study of Morgan dollar die varieties popular, and the Fivaz - Stanton Cherrypickers' Guide further fueled collector interest. The 1887/6-o has received an entry in the Guide Book, which reflects widespread numismatic recognition of the variety and gives it the highest degree of collectibility. The New Orleans overdate is about half as common as its Philadelphia counterpart. In addition, only one gem is known with an o mint mark and more than 100 gems have been certified from Philly. This coin resides in an old green holder and is appropriately graded. The lower loop of the six is only visible with a magnifier.
This high mintage issue (11.8 million) was both widely distributed at the time of issue and also paid out in bag quantities beginning as early as 1938. The 1889-O is not known for its availability, but rather its poor striking quality. The result of this lack of details has the same effect as a lack of availability, i.e., very few pieces qualify at the Gem level. This piece is all white, but not quite fully struck.
The 1892-o Morgan is somewhat of an enigma to collectors. The mintage of more than 2 million suggests ready availability in all grades. However, because of the New Orleans Mint's failure to produce coins of high quality, finding well-preserved gem and near gem pieces can be difficult, costly, and time consuming. Strikes are usually poor and luster unimpressive. Expect to pay a premium when a well struck coin with vibrant luster surfaces. It is presumed by some including Wayne Miller that many of the better quality coins of this issue came from a mint bag that surfaced in 1977. This frosty, all-white near-gem has a much better than average strike including the central devices that are typically very flat.
The 1895-o is certainly the key to the New Orleans Morgan dollar series. In addition, 1895 continues to be the most notable year of the entire Morgan series. Much of this notariety is due to the mystery surrounding silver dollar production at the Philadelphia Mint in 1895. The New Orleans Mint production was limited to 450,000 pieces, a low mintage by the standards of any late 19th and 20th century silver series. The distribution of this issue is not unlike that of other O-mint issues from this era. A small number of coins, probably 100,000 pieces, were released into circulation in the South. The remainder of this mintage went into storage as did many other issues at the other branch mints. The Pittman Act of 1918 must have taken an unusual toll on the 1895-o, as few examples emerged from Treasury holdings in the early 60s. Due to the limited original mintage, it is likely that most of the 1895-O dollars went to the melting pot under the terms of this act. Circulated examples are scarce on today's market, and Mint State representatives are deservedly rare. For the BU purist a circulated example would never do. However, this coin is more than a hole filler. The soft gray patina over the vast surfaces of this silver beauty are as eye-appealing as the frosty surfaces of a mint gem. The few Mint State survivors of this issue include a large percentage of poorly struck, lackluster, and/or heavily abraded coins.
With a mintage of 4 million coins, the 1897-o dollar at first glance might be considered a common date. However, it is believed that more than 1 million were melted under the 1918 Pittman Act, with the vast majority entering into circulation. A small number of bags were released by the Treasury in the mid-1900s and those coins were said to be of poor quality. The usual 1897-o dollar typically displays poor luster and an incomplete strike. As a result, near-gem or better examples are scarce or, more accurately stated, rare. Only a dozen are known in Gem or better through MS67 at PCGS. This example is well struck especially centrally, and is actually far brighter than my scans show. Hard to believe it's only a 61.
This is one of three Morgan Silver Dollar issues, along with 03-o and 04-o, that had been considered rare prior to release of the Treasury Hoard of the 1960s. Of the 4.44 million 98-o dollars, a substantial percentage was set aside and eventually distributed through the Federal Reserve System in late 1962. Few, however, show the well preserved surfaces seen on this piece. This coin is all white and only has light grazes that show up amazing well on these high resolution scans.
Winter variety 1. The date punch entered the date slightly higher than the other variety. Among all gold dollars struck in New Orleans, the 1853-O is the easiest to locate in all grades. With a mintage of 290,000 coins, it is tied with the 1851-O for the highest mintage gold dollar of this Mint.
Winter variety 2. The 1855-o is the final gold dollar issue from New Orleans and the only one that employs the Type Two or Small Indian Head design. Type One gold dollars had proven unpopular because the small size rendered it easily lost in pants pockets or purses. The Mint addressed this problem by increasing the planchet's diameter from 13 mm to 15 mm. As such, the planchet's depth was reduced to maintain weight and fineness standards. This measure had the unfortunate effect of making the coins extremely difficult to fully strike. Type Two dollars are generally seen with soft strikes, with the 1855-o perhaps better than average in this respect. Problems such as this caused the design to be abandoned after only three years. No gems are known to date.
Winter Variety 1. High date, wide fraction. The 39-o was the first gold coin produced at the New Orleans Mint, the only Classic Head issue, and the only gold issue with the mintmark on the obverse. Many were likely kept as souvenirs as a half dozen are known in near gem.
Winter variety 1. The mint mark is large and high compared to the other 2 varieties and diagonal lines are seen above ST in STATES. The strike is notably weak at the center, also a characteristic of this variety. From a mintage of 33,580, about 100-125 remain. This coin is probably a 62-63 technically with no visible wear, but the strike is very soft.
Winter variety 4. The obverse has a low date with associated die cracks (Obv2). The reverse has cracks thru STATES (RevD). The New Orleans Mint struck a total of 364,002 Quarter Eagles in 1843. This mintage figure can be divided into two uneven portions based on the two different date types that Mint employees used. The majority of the 288,002 pieces were coined with a Small Date logotype also identified as having a crosslet 4. The rest are a Large Date type and the 4 has no crosslet.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. From a mintage of only 4000, the 45-o is the rarest New Orleans $2.50. In addition, it does not command the premium of similarly rare or rarer Charlotte and Dahlonega quarter eagles. The entire mintage was not delivered until Jan 22, 1846 and therefore was not listed in the year-end mint director's report. Three uncs are accounted for including a PCGS 61 and 62.
Winter variety 1. Ex: Bass. The one is buried in the dentils and is doubled at its base (Obv1). The Mint Mark is penetrated by arrow feathers and is centered over the fraction bar (RevA). The provenance is not on the holder but matches the Bass II 407 coin, formerly PCGS MS63 at the time of sale in October 1999. There is a copper spot on the reverse at the 2. Thank you Stephen Davidson for locating this coin.
Winter variety 4. Low date with recut 5. MM left touching claw. There are a number of underrated issues among New Orleans gold coins. The current issue would certainly be one of them. Long considered to be virtually unknown in Mint State grades, recently a few pieces have been certified in grades as high as MS64, yet coins as fine as the present example remain few and far between. This piece, unusual for the date, has a nearly full strike. Ex. Grand Lake Collection (HA 2/09).
Winter variety unmatched. The 1 is in the neck (Obv5) and the MM is left enough that no feathers puncture it (RevA) The 1854-o quarter eagle was another issue that the New Orleans Branch Mint produced with unusually high quality. With a mintage of 151k, only about 4 dozen coins are thought to exist in mint state.
Winter variety 2. The more common variety struck from lapped dies. The 1854-o is the first year of issue and the only $3 coin produced at the New Orleans branch mint. With a total mintage of 24,000, most of the coins were presumed to be released into circulation or melted. Only 2 mint state examples are currently slabbed by PCGS (an MS61 and an MS62). Though around 1000 are preserved in PCGS and NGC slabs, the popularity among us collectors make this a difficult date to locate in any grade.
Winter variety 1. Late die state with extreme lapping can cracking on reverse. The only known variety with "large letters." The large letters variety is more common than small letters and survival estimates of 125-150 are about 50% higher than the small letters estimated survival. The large letters is most likely to have been the second type minted in 1843 as half eagles share the same sized lettering as 43-o LL in the years following.
Winter variety 3. MM is lower and tilted left, right shield line curves inward. Despite a mintage of 58,000, the 46-o is rarer than the 45-o (41,000). According to Doug Winter's book on New Orleans gold, only 4 or 5 uncs are known and the population figures at PCGS and NGC likely represent resubmission of the same few uncs. This coin has a lovely cameo effect with prooflike fields. Marks through the eagle's head and neck are on the holder.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. The 47-o is the rarest of the o-mint half eagles. According to Winter's reference, there may be only 40-50 known in all grades and in properly graded AU55 there are no more than a few pieces known. There is one MS61 at NGC and likely only one other coin that would grade AU58.
Winter variety 1. Ex. Bass. MM is lower and more right than the other variety. Previously, lot 435 in the Bowers and Merena Bass Sale May 2000 that realized 6900. Harry Bass purchased this coin from Paramount’s 1969 ANA sale, Lot 1925. The coin was previously described as "Lustrous bright yellow gold with exceptional surfaces although two tiny vertical scratches are noted, one in each loop of digit 8. Typical central weakness is noted, as often seen on this issue. A rare variety with doubled first 1 in date."
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. This coin has the look of a 61. It is heavily abraded, typical for the issue and I am unable to see any wear with magnification. Might resubmit this one at some point. From a mintage of 10k, the 92-o is 3rd rarest in total mintage but 13th rarest in high grade.
Winter variety 2. High date with no reverse die cracks, scarce variety. At 110,000, the 93-o is the second most abundant half eagle minted in New Orleans. It is the most available half eagle in MS. No gems are known at PCGS. Most are heavily abraded or impaired from being shipped loosely in bags, with a number going directly to Europe.
Winter variety 1. MM left c/w variety 2. The 1894-O was the final half eagle from New Orleans, except for the 1909-O Indian. The 1894-O has a mintage less than half the mintage of the 1909-O, but market factors (probably less demand because the number of coins in the Liberty $5 series) make this a suprisingly affordable issue. No survivors have been graded above MS63 to date.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. Only 2500 examples were produced in 1841, and out of that only 50-60 are estimated to have survived. To date, only one coin has graded as high as AU58 and no unc's are known. This coin is a nice evenly circulated example that appears wholly original, thus well deserving of that little green bean.
Winter variety 2. The o is lower than var 1. Var 1 uses the 41-o reverse. Only 27,400 eagles were produced in 1842. There are 3 known unc coins including only one (MS63) at PCGS. This coin is more available than the 41-o but very difficult to find in higher AU grades according to Winter.
Winter variety 2: Ex: Bass. The date is sharper than on V1, and the advanced cracks are not seen on the reverse. A grease spot is seen streaking across the reverse but not detracting. This coin was previously Bass IV:600. Though the coin has changed hands a time or two since the Bass sale, it was purchased from Doug Winter. Thank you Doug for finding great coins! Bass via Stanley Kesselman 2/71, earlier from Grant Pierce 5/65.
Winter variety 1. This date is notable for one of the most important coins produced by the New Orleans Mint...a remarkable NGC PR66 that traded for 1.5 mil!!! It is not known why this single proof was produced. My coin is housed in an old green holder. The luster is satiny and clean and this could be a candidate for an upgrade. Thanks again to Stephen Davidson for locating this coin.
Ex: SS New York. Winter variety 6. The SSNY was built in 1837 and shuttled between Galveston and New Orleans weekly until a gulf hurricane sank the ship on Sept 7, 1846 killing 17. 36 survived by holding onto ship debris for 2 days while awaiting rescue. The ship's manifest revealed a haul of 30-40k in gold, silver, and banknotes, but news of the shipwreck was soon lost among stories of the Mexican-American war battles. In 1990 a newspaper article appeared that ultimately led to discovery of the wreck. Local shrimpers' maps listed this area as a 'snag' and using only electronic fish finder equipment, the wreck was located by an oil field worker and a diver. It wasn't until 2007 that a full-scale recovery took place revealing treasure coins from all 3 Southern mints. Unfortunately the silver coins were etched or corroded by salt water, but the gold was largely unaffected. This date is known for several varieties including blundering of the date and repunching. The date is repunched up and far to the right with evidence of an 84 low and left of the date. A die crack extends from the rim through 45. There are die lines through TY of liberty. The mint mark is centered over the left upright of N. Formerly NGC MS61cac.
Winter variety 1. The only small date variety. It is unknown how many of the 52,500 delivered were of the small logotype. Doug Winter estimates that the small date is more common overall, but more difficult in higher grade. Only 1 low grade unc is known at PCGS and 2 at NGC.
Winter Variety 1: normal date. The average 1855-o is heavily abraded and has lack luster eye appeal. This coin may be a rare exception. The surfaces are relatively smooth and ample luster remains in the protected areas. Typical weakness is noted centrally on the obverse, but the reverse is well impressed especially at the claw and left facing leg. There are only 2 known uncirculated coins, both MS61s in PCGS holders. Less than 100 of the original 18,000 are thought to have survived.
Winter variety 1: the only known variety. This coin has no known provenance, but on close inspection a lot of dirt is seen in the protected areas ie.- around the stars, within the numerals. I suspect this coin might be from the Tennessee Hoard of 1985...but no proof exists. This coin is so super-original with a beautiful matte finish. It is very minimally abraded just as the pictures show and in my opinion is quite conservatively graded.
Winter variety 1. Ex. SS Republic. In October 1865 after the Civil war ended, the ill-fated sidewheel steamship left New York en route to New Orleans with gold, silver, and commercial cargo to resupply the depleted Southern economy. The ship sank one week later 100 miles SE of Savannah, GA on October 25 in a hurricane. Passengers and crew escaped, but the ship and her booty were lost. In 2003, Odyssey Marine Exploration located the wreck and began the process of recovery. Some amazing rarities came out of the treasure, including the 2 finest known 59-o $10s. Sea salvaged silver coins from the wreck were etched by decades of exposure to salt water. However, the gold coins were largely unaffected. This coin is amazingly well preserved though abraded. I cannot find rub on this coin, but perhaps muted luster on the obverse prevents a higher designation. The protected areas are bright and prooflike, and the reverse is easily MS62. The 1859-o is the rarest "No motto" eagle with a total mintage of 2300 and survival is estimated at 45-55 coins.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. The mintage of the 1860-o was an anemic 11,100. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth call this issue "an underrated sleeper in the series." In addition, it concludes a 20-year run of O-mint gold eagles, interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. Eagle production at the New Orleans mint would not resume until the mint was reopened in 1879. This coin has a lot of luster and mirroring that appear dull and dark with amateur photography skills. The coin is nicely struck and not too baggy. Also note that a diagonal line extending through the shield is on the slab itself, not the coin. To date (summer '09) only 1 submission has achieved unc status at PCGS, compared to a mere 4 at NGC.
Winter variety 1. Ex: Admiral Collection. Definitely not a 55...already at least a half dozen from this collection are in a holder 1 or 2 levels higher. This iPhone image is not representative of this coin's proof-like beauty and scratches/haziness are on the holder. There is no wear and there is no visible difference in this coin and the professionally photographed 80-o MS61 in this collection.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. Commercial demand and a paltry mintage of 21,335 have resulted in an issue that is nonexistent in gem quality and difficult in higher grades of mint state. However due to current market forces and collector interest, this date is a bargain when compared to the $3 1854-o with a similar mintage. It is presumed that a moderate number were shipped to Europe and many were also melted. This example is beautifully struck with satiny soft luster on both sides. There are remarkably few heavy marks for the grade.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. A low mintage of 28,688 pieces ensures that the 1892-O is a better date regardless of grade. However, many find this a difficult issue to collect because of the lack of unabraded, stand-out coins. This date is virtually nonexistent below AU suggesting it was not released for circulation. Several substantial hoards have been located in the 90s accounting for run up in mint state pieces. Population reports indicate over 100 have achieved the grade of MS61 and the same for MS 62. In MS63, it becomes a formidable rarity as only 4 submissions have achieved this designation at PCGS (none at NGC). None are graded any higher at either service. The typical 1892-O is inundated with small marks, which often impair field luster. This coin is sharply struck with impressive eye appeal and a relative lack of heavy marks. The fields are highly lustrous with a yellow-orange obverse that eases into yellow-gold on the reverse.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. The 94-o has a mintage higher than the previous 3 issues combined, yet it is a decidedly rarer coin in higher uncirculated grades. This issue was obviously needed for commercial usage as many circulated pieces are known. Only one gem is known at NGC and only one has graded higher than MS63 at PCGS. This is a later die state example with faint die cracks running through the reverse lettering and obverse stars.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. Apparrently a handful of these were set aside at the time of issue including the Eliasberg-Clapp coin acquired directly from the mint for face value. There is at least one MS67 in addition to a couple of MS66s. This is an issue that is generally regarded as harder to locate in lower grades through lower mint state grades.
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. With a mintage of 112,771, the 1903-o is the most common eagle from the New Orleans Mint. It is also the only gold coin issued from the mint that year. A nice MS63 coin is obtainable with a little patience, though it becomes an extreme rarity in gem (1 in 66 at PCGS, 1 in 65 at NGC).
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. Hundreds of these have been located overseas in the last decade according to Doug Winter. There is one interesting coin for this issue, possibly a specimen or proof strike. A note accompanies the coin, "First Gold Coined 1904, W.J.Bromphy, Coiner US Mint, $10.00 and $5.00" Interestingly, no gold half eagles are currently known for this date?!?!
Winter variety 1. The 1852-o is the most available New Orleans double eagle in higher grades. There are 12-18 surviving uncirculated coins according to Doug Winter's book, and AU coins are available with some patience. Most coins are rather baggy and heavily marked, but not this one. No interesting varities are known.
Winter variety 1: the only known variety. From a mintage of 8,000, probably 70-80 remain. None of these are full unc's despite a few in NGC60 holders according to Winter. Overall, this issue is considered the 3rd rarest among New Orleans double eagles. This coin is typically struck for the issue. It is however very original and better that the pictures provided.
Winter variety 1: the only known variety. The New Orleans mint cranked out 30k in 1857 after the total mintage for the previous 3 years amounted to a mere 13,500. As such, this is one of the easier issues to obtain especially in lower grades. At the AU level, it becomes more difficult. Only 2 uncs known at PCGS at the end of 2016.
Winter variety 1: the only known variety. The 1859-O is the 4th rarest double eagle from this mint and it rivals the 55-O for status as the rarest collectible double eagle from this mint. Only 9,100 were struck and around 75-100 are known. Of these, fewer than two dozen grade AU. From Doug Winter,"I doubt if more than three or four have what could be termed as “positive” eye appeal. The typical 1859-O has been stripped and shows excessive abrasions. Pieces with original color and skin are rare, rare, rare!! It has been years since I’ve seen an 1859-O which I’ve liked. This coin? I LOVE it… Housed in an old green label holder and clearly undergraded by today’s standards; I think virtually anyone viewing this coin will call it a solid AU55." Hmm, 'nuff said!
Winter variety 1. The only known variety. This coin is tied for finest known from a paltry mintage of 6600. It is estimated that fewer than 100 survive in all grades. This coin is fresh from France and highly original. In hand, it is highly prooflike and the darker areas of these images attempt to capture that. This issue is plagued by bagginess and this coin is no exception. However, that does not detract from its importance and beauty. It is only a trace of friction from a full unc.