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SERIES: Liberty Head $2 1/2 1840-1907
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1842-O $2.50 (Regular Strike)

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PCGS MS61

PCGS AU58

PCGS AU55
PCGS #:
7726
Diameter:
18.00 millimeters
Designer:
Christian Gobrecht
Weight:
4.18 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
19,800
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$20,700 • NGC MS63 • 1-12-2005 • Heritage
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Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 115 R-7.8 43 / 147 TIE 43 / 147 TIE
60 or Better 8 R-9.6 43 / 147 TIE 43 / 147 TIE
65 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 147 1 / 147
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS63 PCGS grade  
1 MS63 estimated grade  
1 MS63 estimated grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS63 PCGS grade  
1 MS63 estimated grade  
1 MS63 estimated grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 estimated grade  
4 MS62 estimated grade  
4 MS62 estimated grade  
David Akers (1975/88): Scarce in all grades and extremely rare better than EF. Usually softly struck, particularly on the hair curls around Liberty's face and on the eagle's right leg. The O mintmark is very small, as it is on the 1840-O. This scarce date has the ninth lowest average grade of any quarter eagle. I have not seen either of the Bell coins and do not have firsthand knowledge of any strictly uncirculated 1842-O quarter eagle. The best I have seen is a softly struck AU-50, although I have seen a modest number of EF's.
Doug Winter: In 1841, there was very limited production of gold coins at the New Orleans mint. There were no quarter eagles or half eagles struck and just 2,500 eagles.

Coinage increased in 1842. The 1842-O quarter eagle is an issue that was, as recently as a few years ago, nearly impossible to find in grades above AU55. Enough higher grade pieces have made it into the market in the past decade to suggest the existence of a small hoard.

The 1842-O is among the scarcest New Orleans quarter eagles. Most of the available coins are in the VF to EF range and properly graded AU coins are very scarce. In Uncirculated this is a very rare coin, with just six to eight currently known.

STRIKE: Between 75 and 85% of the 1842-O quarter eagles I have seen are very weakly struck. They show almost no detail at the centers of the upper portion of Liberty’s hair and are also weak at the borders. A small number are extremely well struck. These all seem to be from the same die state with heavy cracks noted at the bases of the ICA in AMERICA.

In my opinion, the 1842-O quarter eagles that are well struck should be valued at levels considerably higher than their weakly struck counterparts.

SURFACES: This is among the most difficult New Orleans quarter eagles to find with clean, undisturbed surfaces. Many have been cleaned and now show hairlines as a result. There are also some examples with deep, detracting abrasions in the fields. I have seen a number that had rim bumps or other edge problems. All 1842-O quarter eagles should be carefully checked on the edge for signs of repair.

LUSTER: Most have soft, frosty luster that tends to be above average in terms of its quality. There are a small number of 1842-O quarter eagles that are fully prooflike. Some of these have a spectacular appearance although their level of reflectivity tends to accentuate any marks in the fields. These prooflike coins always show advanced die cracks on the obverse and reverse and have extensive die rust present.

COLORATION: The natural coloration is a medium green-gold hue. A few show a more orange-gold color. It is very difficult to locate a piece with original color as most have been cleaned or dipped.

EYE APPEAL: The typical 1842-O quarter eagle has below average eye appeal. This is primarily due to the weakness of strike often seen. In addition many have heavily abraded surfaces, poor luster and have been cleaned or dipped. There are a small number that show very good eye appeal and are well struck. These should sell for a significant premium, in my opinion, over the “typical” example.

DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no significant die characteristics seen on this variety. But see below for information on die cracks.

MAJOR VARIETIES: A single die variety is known. There are a number of die states.

Variety One: The reverse is the same as that seen on Variety Two of the 1840-O quarter eagle. The mintmark is small and the fraction bar points to the lower right side of the O. On late die states there are cracks through MERIC in AMERICA that terminate above the C.