1844-O Eagle - 1844-O $10 NGC AU55. This Choice AU, Southern branch mint 1844-O eagle has glowing mint luster within protected areas on both sides of the coin. The strike is above average with full details on most of the obverse stars and most of the strands of Liberty’s hair. The coin is a mixture of yellow and greenish gold, which indicate its authenticity. The surfaces are clean for the grade with no notable abrasion marks or other distractions.
The Liberty Head eagle was designed by Christian Gobrecht. It 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. Except for being interrupted by the tips of the eagle’s wings UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the reverse, separated from the denomination TEN D. by dots. The mintmark is on the reverse between the eagle and the denomination. Dentils are near the edge on both sides of the coin, and the edge is reeded.
Gobrecht became the third Chief Engraver at the United States Mint. He was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1785. His father was a German immigrant, and his mother traced her ancestry to the early settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Gobrecht married Mary Hewes in 1818. One of his early positions was as an engraver of clocks in Baltimore. Later he went to Philadelphia where he became a banknote engraver. He invented a machine that allowed one to convert a three-dimensional medal into an illustration. In 1826 Gobrecht did his first work for the Mint as an assistant to William Kneass. After Kneass suffered a debilitating stroke, Gobrecht did all the die and pattern work for the Mint. He became Chief Engraver in 1840 and served until his death in 1844. He was famous for his Liberty Seated motif, which was used for all denominations of silver coinage including the half-dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar and silver dollar. He also designed the Liberty Head gold eagle, a motif that was also used on the half-cent, the cent, the gold quarter eagle, and the gold half eagle.
The New Orleans Mint was authorized in 1835 by President Andrew Jackson, hero of the battle of New Orleans. The bill that Jackson signed also authorized the mints at Charlotte and Dahlonega. William Strickland, a Philadelphia architect designed all three branch mint buildings. The New Orleans Mint building was made in the solid, bulky Greek Revival style of architecture. It was the largest of the three branch mints and located at major port of entry. Unfortunately Strickland did not account for the soft ground around the site. Because of it, the building had to undergo numerous repairs throughout its history.
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