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LIBERTY HEAD GOLD EAGLE - NO MOTTO ON REVERSE - (1838-1866)
1838 Eagle

Gobrecht’s Coronet Eagle Liberty Head, No Motto

President Thomas Jefferson ordered mintage of gold eagles stopped between 1805 and1837 because gold coins were being melted for bullion. Coinage of this denomination was resumed with Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Head, No Motto eagle. The size, weight, and fineness were reduced so that the new coins were not intrinsically worth more than their denominated value.

The Liberty Head, No Moto eagle shows Liberty facing left in profile wearing a LIBERTY inscribed coronet with her hair tied in the back in beads. Two long curls hang down her neck, one in the back and the other on the side. She is surrounded with thirteen six-pointed stars. The date is below the truncation, which shows no drapery. The motif is taken from a Benjamin West painting of Venus. It was also used with modifications for the Large Cents of 1839. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle with outstretched wing looking to the left. On its chest is the Union shield. In its talons it holds the olive branch and arrows. The error in the previous issue, Scot’s eagle held the arrows and the olive branches in the wrong talons, is corrected. Interrupted by the tips of the eagle’s wings, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the reverse, separated from the denomination TEN D. by dots. Dentils are near the edge on both sides of the coin, and the edge is reeded.
During the first two years of production, the First Head had Large Letters with it. It continued in use until June 1839 and is sometimes called the “Head of 1838.” Later in the year the head was redesigned, made smaller, and the letters were smaller too. This one is sometimes called the “New Portrait, Small Letters,” “Second Head, Small Letters,” or “Head of 1840.”

Generally speaking Liberty Head, No Motto eagle coins had low mintages. While a few years had large mintages of more than 200,000, most were significantly less. Some dates are difficult to obtain because their mintages were limited or they were not saved. In 1840 and 1841 small numerals were used. These were the same as for the cents of that year. In 1842 both large and small numerals were used. The same is true for the 1850 and 1854-O eagles. In 1844 Gobrecht died and Longacre became the Engraver. His job consisted mainly of punching the dates and mintmarks into the working dies. He supposedly made several blunders including 1846-O, 6 over 5; 1849 over 1848; 1853, 3 over 2; and 1865-S, 865/inverted 186. In this last one, the three numbers were entered upside down and then corrected. The Hard Times, which saw high unemployment and starvation, was one of the reasons for the limited mintages through the mid 1840’s. Later double eagles, which were first used in 1850, were preferred over eagles for large commercial and international transactions.

In 1859 Engraver Longacre prepared a new reverse that was used on Philadelphia coins until 1865. On them the eagle’s claws are thinner and shorter. This change is not seen on the branch mint coins because they were using 1857-1858 dies.

The last date for the Liberty Head, No Motto eagle was supposed to have been 1865. However in 1866, 8,500 S mint No Motto coins were issued because the new reverse die had not arrived in San Francisco. Later that year when more eagles were made, 11,500 With Motto 1866-S coins were minted.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 16.718 grams (258 grains) (.5375 troy ounces)
Diameter: 27 mm
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: 15.0465 grams (232.2 grains) (0.48375 troy ounces)

 
DATE NOTES
1838 Eagle
Low mintage first year of Liberty Head designed by Christian Gobrecht; only about 90 are known; 4 came from the Republic; usually seen heavily circulated. The finest certified are 3 in MS63. 3 proofs of this date are known.
1839 Eagle
Found with Large and Small Letters (Head of 38 or Head of 40). Small Letters variety is rarer with only about 55 known. Only 2 Small Letters and 7 Large Letters came from the Republic. The finest certified with Large Letters is a single MS66 example. The finest certified with Small Letters is a single MS64 example. 3 proofs of this date are known; they are the Type of 1838.
1840 Eagle
Usually found in circulated condition. Most certified examples are XF40 to AU58. 11 came from the Republic. Only 8 have been certified Mint State. The finest is a single MS62 example.
1841 Eagle
Usually found in circulated condition. Most certified examples are XF40 to AU58. 20 came from the Republic; 1 came from the Central America. Only 20 have been certified Mint State. The finest is a single MS63 example.
1841-O Eagle
First date of denomination for the New Orleans Mint. Extremely low mintage. Approximately 65 are known. Only 1 came from the Republic. They are often seen with heavy bag marks. None have been certified in Mint State. The finest certified are 2 in AU58.
1842 Eagle
Found with Small and Large Dates. The Small Date is rarer. Often seen with prooflike surfaces. 4 Small Dates and 11 Large Dates came from the Republic. The finest certified Small Date is a single MS63 example. The finest certified Large Date are 2 in MS65.
1842-O Eagle
Most examples are found heavily circulated. 17 came from the Republic. Only 7 have been certified Mint State. The finest is a single MS63 example.
1843
Often seen with prooflike surfaces and heavy bag marks. Most are found in circulated condition. Only 4 have been certified Mint State. The finest certified are 2 MS61 examples. 2 came from the Central America; 20 from the Republic have been certified by NGC. 5 proofs of this date are known.
1843-O Eagle
Often seen well struck with prooflike surfaces. Usually found in circulated condition. 35 came from the Republic; 2 came from the Central America. Only 14 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS64 example.
1844 Eagle
Approximately 65 of this low mintage date are known. None were found on the Republic. Only 2 have been certified in Mint State. The highest is a single MS63.
1844-O Eagle
Available in XF to AU grades. 32 came from the Republic; 2 came from the Central America. Only 23 have been certified in Mint State. The highest are 2 in MS63.
1845 Eagle
Usually found in XF to AU grades. 2 came from the Republic. Only 4 have been certified in Mint State. The highest are 2 in MS62. 4 proofs of this date are known.
1845-O Eagle
Usually found in XF to AU grades. 19 came from the Republic; 3 came from the Central America. Only 15 have been certified in Mint State. The highest is a single MS64 example. Varieties include Repunched 84, repunched 45, and Large Date over Small Date.
1846 Eagle
Although 6 were found on the Republic, most are in XF or worse condition. Only 6 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which are 3 in MS62. 4 proofs of this date are known.
1846-O Eagle
Usually found in low circulated grades. Very rare in AU grades. Usually with poor strikes and poor quality planchets. Only 3 have been certified in Mint State, the highest of which is a single MS64. 13 came from the Republic; 3 came from the Central America. Also found with a 6 over 5 overdate.
1847
Most common issue of the series. 221 came from the Republic; 7 came from the Central America. Usually bright yellow-gold with coppery spots. Sometimes with prooflike surfaces. Rare above MS62. The finest certified is a single MS64 example.
1847-O Eagle
Highest mintage for any New Orleans gold coin. Usually found in circulated grades up to AU. 12 came from the Republic; 3 came from the Central America. Rare above MS61. Finest certified are 3 MS64 examples.
1848 Eagle
High mintage, yet only 40 have been certified in Mint State. Most are seen XF to AU. 39 came from the Republic, 1 came from the Central America, all in circulated condition. The finest certified is a single MS65 example.
1848-O Eagle
Common in lower grades, only 15 certified in Mint State. Most are poorly struck, some have prooflike surfaces. 9 came from the Republic; 2 came from the Central America. The finest certified are 2 in MS66.
1849 Eagle
Available in circulated grades and lower Mint State as well. 167 came from the Republic; 6 came from the Central America. The finest certified are 6 in MS64 condition.
1849-O Eagle
Rare in all grades; exceedingly rare in Mint State with only 3 certified. The finest certified are 2 in MS61. 8 came from the Republic, all in circulated condition.
1850 Eagle
Found with Small and Large dates. The Small Date is rarer. 2 came from the Central America. 72 came from the Republic, of which 7 were Small Dates. 35 Large dates have been certified in Mint State. The finest is a single MS64. 11 Small Dates have been certified in Mint State. The finest is a single MS63.
1850-O Eagle
Usually found in circulated condition. 16 came from the Republic and range in XF to AU grades; 2 came from the Central America. Only 4 have been certified in Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS65 example.
1851 Eagle
Available in circulated condition, rare in Mint State with only 32 certified in all MS grades. 33 circulated pieces came from the Republic. The finest certified is a single MS64 example.
1851-O
Easily found in grades up to AU. Usually found weakly struck at the stars, frequently with many bagmarks. 99 came from the Republic. Only 25 have been certified in Mint State, the finest are 3 in MS64 condition.
1852 Eagle
Obtainable in XF to AU condition. Usually seen lustrous with orange-yellow gold color. Rare above MS61. The finest certified is a single MS66 example. 2 came from the Central America. 48 from the Republic have been certified by NGC.
1852-O Eagle
Scarce in circulated grades. Only 3 certified in Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS61 example. 3 came from the Republic. All coins have a tiny hollow ring in center of the reverse, probably used by the engraver as a centering device.
1853 Eagle
Common in grades up to AU. Rare above MS61. 47 from the Republic have been certified by NGC; 1 came from the Central America. The finest certified are 4 in MS64. Look for the rare 1853/2 overdate, 3 of which have been certified in Mint State.
1853-O Eagle
Available in VF to AU grades. Extremely rare in Mint State with only 7 examples certified in Mint State, all MS61s. 13 came from the Republic, 1 of which was in Mint State; 1 came from the Central America.
1854 Eagle
Most found in XF to AU condition. Only 21 certified in Mint State. 22 came from the Republic; 1 came from the Central America. Most show weak stars. The finest are 4 in MS64.
1854-O Eagle
Found with Small or Large dates. 2 came from the Central America; 17 came from the Republic, 12 of them Large Dates. Small Dates are scarce. Only 2 have been certified in Mint State, the finest a single MS61. 23 Large Dates have been certified in Mint State, the finest are 2 in MS63 condition.
1854-S Eagle
First eagle struck at San Francisco. Usually available in XF to AU grades. Only 10 have been certified in Mint State, the finest are 2 in MS62 condition. 39 from the Republic have been certified by NGC; 13 came from the Central America.
1855 Eagle
Available in XF to AU grades. 44 came from the Republic, including 14 in lower MS grades; 2 came from the Central America. Rare above MS61. The finest certified is a single MS65 example.
1855-O Eagle
Usually found in grades below XF, rare in AU. 7 came from the Republic. Only 2 have been certified in Mint State, both of them MS61.
1855-S Eagle
Low mintage issue with approximately 70 known in all grades. None were found on the Republic; 6 came from the Central America. None have been certified in Mint State. The finest certified are 3 in AU58.
1856 Eagle
Available in XF to AU grades. Rare above MS61. The finest certified are 3 in MS64. Usually found lustrous with a reddish-gold color. 17 from the Republic have been certified by NGC.
1856-O Eagle
Scarce in circulated grades; rare in Mint State. First use of upright 5 on eagle. 5 came from the Republic. Stars and Liberty’s hair often weakly struck. Often with green-gold color. Only 4 certified in Mint State all of which are MS60.
1856-S Eagle
Available in XF to AU grades. Rare in Mint State. Only 9 have been certified in Mint State. The finest certified is a single MS63 example. 22 from the Republic have been certified by NGC; 28 came from the Central America.
1857 Eagle
Usually seen in VF to XF. Scarce in AU and rare in Mint State with only 7 certified in all MS grades. 9 came from the Republic. The finest certified are 2 in MS62.
1857-O Eagle
Low mintage coin; rare in all grades with none certified in Mint State. The finest certified are 15 in AU58. 3 came from the Republic.
1857-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; only 7 certified in Mint State. The finest certified are 2 in MS64. 1 from the Republic has been certified MSPL61; 12 came from the Central America.
1858 Eagle
Very low mintage; only about 60 are known in all grades; 5 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which are 2 in MS64. Only 1 came from the Republic. 4 proofs of this date are known.
1858-O Eagle
Scarce in all grades; rare in Mint State with only 12 certified in MS grades. The finest certified is a single MS63. 4 from the Republic have been certified by NGC.
1858-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; only about 70 are known; none have been certified Mint State; 4 came from the Republic; the finest certified are 13 in AU58.
1859 Eagle
Usually found in circulated condition below XF. 12 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS63. 7 from the Republic have been certified by NGC. 8 proofs of this date are known.
1859-O Eagle
Rare in all grades; only about 65 are known; The finest certified is a single MS62 example. 2 from the Republic have been certified by NGC.
1859-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; approximately 50 are known; only 1 has been certified Mint State, an MS60. None were found on the Republic.
1860 Eagle
Scarce in all grades; only 18 have been certified in Mint State, the finest of which are 3 in MS64. 9 came from the Republic. Approximately 10 proofs are known for this date.
1860-O Eagle
Scarce in all grades; most often seen in XF to AU grades; only 5 have been certified in Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS63 example. 2 from the Republic have been certified by NGC.
1860-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; approximately 40 known; only 2 have been certified in Mint State, the finer of which is an MS62 example. 3 from the Republic have been certified by NGC.
1861 Eagle
One of the more common dates of the type; rare above MS62; the finest certified is a single MS66 example; 51 from the Republic have been certified by NGC. Approximately 11 proofs of this date are known.
1861-S Eagle
Scarce in all grades; prohibitively rare in Mint State with only a single MS61 certified; only 1 came from the Republic.
1862 Eagle
Scarce in all grades; rare in Mint State with 12 certified; the finest certified is a single MS64 example. 9 from the Republic have been certified by NGC. Approximately 14 proofs of this date are known.
1862-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; approximately 70 are known; 1 came from the Republic; 2 MS61s are the only examples certified in Mint State.
1863 Eagle
Rare in all grades; approximately 40 are known; 3 have been certified Mint State; 1 came from the Republic; the finest certified are 2 MS63 examples. Approximately 15 proofs of this date are known.
1863-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; approximately 50 are known; 3 came from the Republic. 3 have been certified Mint State; the finest certified are 2 in MS61.
1864 Eagle
Very low mintage; rare in all grades; approximately 50 are known; 2 came from the Republic; 6 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS63 example. Approximately 18 proofs of this date are known.
1864-S Eagle
Extremely low mintage; approximately 25 are known; none have been certified in Mint State; none were found on the Republic; the finest certified is a single AU55 example.
1865 Eagle
Very low mintage; approximately 65 are known; 1 came from the Republic; 2 have been certified Mint State; the finer is an MS63; Approximately 14 proofs of this date are known.
1865-S Eagle
Rare in all grades; found either with normal or inverted date. Approximately 30 Normal Dates and 50 Inverted Dates are known. Only 1 Normal Date has been certified Mint State, an MS60, and 2 Inverted Dates have been certified Mint State; the finer is an MS64 example. No Normal Dates were found on the Republic. 1 Inverted Date, an MS62 was found on the Republic, and the finest certified MS64 was found on the Brother Jonathan.
1866-S Eagle, No Motto
Rare in all grades; approximately 50 are known; only 1 has been certified Mint State, an MS60; none were found on the Republic, the Central America, or the Brother Jonathan because all sank before 1866.
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