The 1857-O is an elusive issue in all grades, from a tiny mintage of 30,000 pieces. The mintage was widely distributed at the time of issue, and it is doubtful any coins were saved for numismatic purposes. The 1857-O is usually seen in VF or XF grades, while AU coins are quite scarce, and Mint State examples are very rare. The supply of circulated coins was augmented in the 1990s, when a hoard of several dozen pieces came on the market. Most of those coins graded in the XF40-AU50 range, with many specimens showing heavy abrasions. Only four examples were saved from the wreck of the S.S. Republic, but they were high-grade specimens. Even after the new discoveries, the 1857-O remains a scarce issue, with Winter estimating a surviving population of 175-200 pieces in all grades. Q. David Bowers postulates a slightly lower figure of 150 coins. Current population data from the grading services coincides well with those estimates, as NGC has certified 110 examples in all categories, while PCGS has graded a total of 86 specimens across the grading spectrum (11/10). The 1857-O continues to be very rare in Mint State grades, with only six to eight specimens known.
While the rare New Orleans twenties, including the 1857-O, are prized by collectors today, they held little appeal for numismatists of the 19th and early 20th century. The high intrinsic value of the coins mitigated against holding a large number of pieces for an extended period of time, and there was no widespread interest in mintmarked varieties of any denomination. Things changed in the 1930s, when the Gold Recall of 1933 made collecting large-denomination gold coins an attractive means of legally investing in gold.
This particular coin has Star Designation. The Single Finest Known!