On January 1, 1853, the officers of the New Orleans plant celebrate the new year by launching a small production. On the next day a commentator reports in a local paper that he has seen the new silver half dollars as well as some twenty dollar gold coins.
No government likes to waste its money. The Mint Act of February 21, 1853 decides a 7% reduction in the weight of silver for the half dollar. To identify them without weighing, both faces are slightly modified : arrows are added around the figures of the year as well as rays in the background behind the eagle.
The 1853-O no arrows no rays suddenly became non-compliant with government regulations. They will not be identified in a ledger.
Four examples are known. These coins had circulated : the discovery coin that surfaced in 1881 is the only one in very fine condition, graded VF-35 by PCGS. This unit was sold for $ 320K including premium by Stack's in October 2006. It will be sold on August 3 in Denver by Stack's Bowers, lot 2099.
The regularity of this 1853-O is beyond doubt. It used the same reverse die as for the 1852-O and it is certain that the die of the 1853 obverse was received from the Philadelphia Mint at the end of the previous year according to the usual practice. Its identification with the festive production of January 1 is very likely.
The scarcity of the 1853-O half dollar no arrows no rays is legendary. One of the other three units was the penultimate entry into the Eliasberg collection. Eliasberg completed his fabulous collection of all regular US varieties in November 1950 by purchasing his last missing item, the 1873-CC No Arrows Liberty Seated dime which still remains unique in its variant. This coin was discussed earlier in this column.
SOLD for $ 520K including premium