1856-O $2.50 (1856-O Quarter Eagle) NGC AU55. This Choice AU, Southern branch mint 1856-O Quarter Eagle shows some remaining luster within its devices. Just a touch of wear on the highest points and some light surface abrasion keep this coin from a mint state grade. However, the surfaces are clearly original and, for the grade, free of major distractions. The periphery of the obverse is well struck with full details on the centers of the stars. The central portion of the obverse and the lower left of the shield are weakly struck. The top of the mintmark is partially hidden by the feathers.
Christian Gobrecht’s quarter eagle was produced without substantial modification from 1840 to 1907, the longest span in any United States coinage series. It uses the Coronet design which shows Liberty in profile facing left, her hair tied tightly in beads, except for two curls one down the back of her neck and the other on the side below her ear, with the word LIBERTY inscribed on the coronet. She is surrounded by thirteen stars, and the date is below the truncation. Dentils are around the periphery of both sides. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle facing left holding arrows and olive branch it its talons. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arcs around it, interrupted by the wing tips, and the denomination 2 ½ D. is below. The denomination is separated from the legend with dots.
Quarter eagles were struck in New Orleans from 1839-1840, 1842-1843, 1845-1847, 1850-1852, and 1856-1857. The pre-Civil War gold from the New Orleans Mint is rare because of low original mintages and low survival rates.
With an original mintage of 21,000, the 1856-O quarter eagle is uncommon in all conditions. In its population report, NGC shows 28 in AU55 with 63 better.
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