The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
The 1883-O eagle has the lowest mintage of any branch mint Liberty Head eagle, with only 800 pieces coined. Writing in 1980, David Akers believed this date was the second rarest New Orleans eagle, behind the 1859-O. Evaluating more recent data, Doug Winter states the 1883-O actually surpasses the 1859-O in terms of absolute rarity. In Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint 1839-1909, Winter estimates a surviving population of only 35-45 examples in all grades. The great majority of these coins are in circulated grades, with Mint State specimens prohibitively rare. Winter remarks, 'Accurately graded EF45's are rare, while AU50 to AU55 coins are very rare.' Winter believes 14-18 examples survive in XF grades, with only six to nine finer pieces.
Auction appearances of this issue were few and far between until the 1940s. One early appearance was in the Beldan Roach Collection (Mehl, 2/1944), lot 416. Mehl's description reads, '1883 Practically uncirculated with a semi-proof surface. Field slightly rubbed, but I believe as perfect a specimen of this great rarity as exists. Only 800 specimens struck in all. Catalogs at $300.00. The rarest branch mint ten dollar gold piece of our entire issue. Seldom offered. Certainly worth its full listed price.' Clearly, Mehl understood the importance of this issue at an early date. Present day collectors should heed his wisdom and bid accordingly.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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