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

1845-O $2.50 (Regular Strike)

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18.00 millimeters
Christian Gobrecht
4.18 grams
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$29,900 • PCGS MS61 • 2-2-2012 • Heritage Auctions
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Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 75 R-8.2 19 / 147 TIE 19 / 147 TIE
60 or Better 3 R-9.8 5 / 147 TIE 5 / 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  
2 MS62 estimated grade  
3 MS61 PCGS grade  
4 AU58 PCGS grade  
4 AU58 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS63 PCGS grade  
2 MS62 estimated grade  
3 MS61 PCGS grade  
4 AU58 PCGS grade  
4 AU58 PCGS grade  
4 AU58 PCGS grade  
4 AU58 estimated grade  
8 AU55 PCGS grade  
8 AU55 PCGS grade  
8 AU55 PCGS grade  
Doug Winter: The 1845-O is the rarest New Orleans quarter eagle. It is as rare – or even rarer – than all but a handful of the Charlotte and Dahlonega quarter eagles of this era but it sells for considerably less.

The entire mintage was not delivered until January 22, 1846. This meant that there was no record of the 1845-O quarter eagle in the 1845 New Orleans Mint Director’s Annual Report. The first public record describing in the 1845-O quarter eagles is found in the December 1894 issue of The Numismatist. In 1909 Virgil Brand purchased an example of this date from the collector J.C. Mitchelson for $150. It remained off the market until 1987 and is now regarded as the finest known.

The famous Texas dealer B. Max Mehl is traditionally credited with the “discovery” of the 1845-O quarter eagle as a rarity. He gave this issue considerable hype whenever an example appeared for sale at one of his auctions.

The 1845-O is the rarest New Orleans quarter eagle. It is usually seen in grades ranging from VF25 to EF40. It is very scarce in EF45 and rare in the lower AU range. An attractive, accurately graded AU55 1845-O quarter eagle is a rare and still undervalued coin. In Mint State, this issue is exceptionally rare.

STRIKE: This is generally a reasonably well struck issue. On the obverse, the hair has good detail with the exception of the curls above the ear. The stars are sharp with most showing full radial lines. The denticles tend to be softly impressed and the ones located from 4:00 to 8:00 may not be fully distinct. The reverse is less well detailed. The feathers on the legs and wingtips are often weak. The denticles are sharper than those on the obverse although the ones from 5:00 to 7:00 are sometimes weak.

SURFACES: The 1845-O quarter eagle is one of the hardest New Orleans gold issues of any denomination to find with clean surfaces. Many have been harshly cleaned and now show heavy hairlines. I have also seen many with scratches. In addition, most are heavily abraded from extensive time spent in circulation.

Virtually all 1845-O quarter eagles have a mint-made depression that runs from the area between the curls to the thirteenth star. This is the result of foreign matter adhering to the die at the time of striking. The presence of this depression should not affect the coin’s grade or value.

LUSTER: The typical 1845-O quarter eagle is worn to the point that little luster remains. In addition, many have been harshly cleaned or overdipped. On original higher grade pieces, the luster is sometimes slightly prooflike as one would expect on an issue with an original mintage of just 4,000 struck from a single pair of dies.

COLORATION: Most do not show original color. There are a few higher grade pieces that have original color present and these tend to be very attractive. Some have deep rich coppery-orange hues while others have lighter orange-gold or green-gold shades. An 1845-O quarter eagle with pleasing natural coloration should sell for a large premium over a typical example.

EYE APPEAL: The level of eye appeal for this date is below average. This is primarily due to the fact that most have been cleaned at one time. There are a small number of extremely attractive examples that have traded in the past decade and these have been absorbed into long-term collections.

DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are a series of raised die scratches inside of the first star on the obverse and a diagonal bar on the face of Liberty that is visible only on higher grade coins. Some show a mint-made depression on the reverse from the F in OF down to the back of the eagle’s neck.

MAJOR VARIETIES: A single variety is known.

Variety One: The date is large and heavily impressed. It is placed to the left about midway between the truncation and the denticles. The 18 in the date shows repunching at its base; on later die states this repunching may not be as evident on the 8. The mintmark is large and placed high in the field. The feathers touch the top of the mintmark. The numerator touches the middle of the mintmark at its base.