1875 Proof Trade Dollar
The 1875 proof trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Proof Trade Dollars. It is graded PCGS PF66 and has a population of 5 with only one finer.
Mintage
700 (or 900?) Proofs
Numismatic Information
Type I and Type II issues: During 1875, to silence Coiner Archibald Loudon Snowden’s complaints about striking quality, Chief Engraver William Barber put a new reverse hub ("Type II") into use. Proofs and business strikes exist from old and new hubs. The old hub, Type I (1873-1876), has a berry below the eagle’s claw; the new (Type II) lacks it—a difference easily seen with the naked eye. Among 1875 trade dollars, business strikes as well as Proofs, the Type I reverse is considerably the scarcer of the two.
Type I reverse coins probably constituted all 200 business strikes made in April (if indeed these were business strikes; this is doubtful; they were probably Proofs) and a small minority of 149,000 pieces struck in May.
As noted in the introduction to the trade dollar section, beginning in the following year, 1876, there was an obverse hub change also. The Type I obverse is readily distinguished by having the ends of the ribbon (on which LIBERTY is imprinted) pointing to the left. The new Type II obverse, introduced in 1876, has the ribbon ends pointing downward. A coin with a Type I obverse and Type I reverse is referred to as Type I/I, a coin with a Type I obverse and Type II reverse is Type I/II, etc. (The obverse hub change is mentioned here because of unconfirmed rumors of 1875-dated coins with obverse Type II.)
Proof mintages: The conventional wisdom is that 700 Proofs were made, but there is a strong case that the quantity might have been 900, for reasons given above. Proof coinage commenced with 300 pieces in January, after which no pieces were made in February. In March 200 Proofs followed. By the end of September the total was 700 (or 900), apparently more than enough, as no more followed.
Sometimes slightly impaired Proofs are offered for sale as "Prooflike Uncirculated," to catch the unwary buyer who is seeking a rare Mint State business strike.
Proofs of the Type I and Type II issues: Proofs were made with the Type I as well as the Type II reverse, with the former being much the rarer of the two. All have Type I obverse. Presumably, some small portion of the 300 Proofs minted in January 1875 were with the Type I reverse. Out of nearly 60 Proofs examined by Walter H. Breen since 1988, only five were Type I/I, the rest I/II. A few I/I Proofs have the reverse with long arc scratch described for 1873, now partly worn off the die. The last of these show die failure at eagle’s leg and claws above 900. Others have a different reverse; both are rare.
In Henry Christensen’s sale catalogue for the John M. Willem Collection, sold on September 5, 1980, the elusive nature of the Type I reverse was recognized: "The Type I is very rare." It sold for $5,000, as compared to a Type II reverse in the same sale at $4,500. The first coin was described as a "lovely Proof," and the second as a "splendid Proof."
Proofs well received: Proofs of the 1875 trade dollar seem to have met with a better reception by numismatists than did the coins of 1873 and 1874, for quite a few more 1875 Proofs are known today than either of the other two early dates.
Varieties:
OBVERSE TYPE I: RIBBON ENDS POINT LEFT, 1873-1876
REVERSE TYPE I: BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1873-1876
Proofs:
1. Patched letters reverse: General type of Breen-5788. With reverse of 1873 No. 2 (and 1874 No. 2).
No accurate censuses have been taken, and earlier it was thought that only a small fraction of surviving Proofs are of the Type I/I configuration. However, a survey of auction appearances taken by Mark Borckardt in 1992 suggests that 62% of the 1875 Proofs are of this style, and 38% Type I/II. As virtually no one has collected Proof trade dollars by reverse types, there has been no meaningful price differentiation in the market prices as of 1992.
2. Perfect reverse. New die, normal (not patched) letters. Narrow area between eagle’s tail and eagle’s dexter leg polished (compare this to 1873 Proof Reverse No. 2, which does not have this polished). Tiny chip out of lower part of the top side of the top right serif in F of OF. Die flaw resembling an apostrophe to the right of R in PLURIBUS. Bottom of first 0 in 900 partially missing.
OBVERSE TYPE I: RIBBON ENDS POINT LEFT, 1873-1876
REVERSE TYPE II: NO BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1875-1885
Proofs:
1. Breen-5789. Type I/II. Believed to comprise about 38% of the 700 (or 900?) Proofs struck of this date, per a 1992 survey of auction appearances by Mark Borckardt. Many are weak at the top of the obverse, including Miss Liberty’s head.
1875 TRADE DOLLAR: MARKET VALUES
Year |
Proof |
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1875 |
$1.75 |
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1880 |
1.50 |
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1885 |
1.50 |
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1890 |
1.25 |
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1895 |
1.25 |
||||
1900 |
1.25 |
||||
1905 |
1.25 |
||||
1910 |
1.50 |
||||
1915 |
1.50 |
||||
1920 |
1.75 |
||||
1925 |
2.00 |
||||
1930 |
2.25 |
||||
1935 |
3.00 |
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1940 |
5.00 |
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1945 |
15.00 |
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1950 |
20.00 |
||||
1955 |
40.00 |
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1960 |
90.00 |
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1965 |
200.00 |
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1970 |
340.00 |
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1975 |
1275.00 |
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1980 |
2600.00 |
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1985 |
3350.00 |
Year |
Imp. P. |
P-60 |
P-63 |
P-64 |
P-65 |
1986 |
$510 |
$930 |
$2100 |
$4800 |
$9000 |
1987 |
460 |
750 |
2250 |
3500 |
9250 |
1988 |
450 |
780 |
2800 |
5000 |
9750 |
1989 |
525 |
1050 |
2800 |
6100 |
13500 |
1990 |
500 |
875 |
2000 |
5250 |
9500 |
1991 |
550 |
1000 |
1600 |
2900 |
7400 |
1992 |
575 |
1050 |
1950 |
3100 |
6200 |
1993 |
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1994 |
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1995 |
SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS
1875
Enabling legislation: Act of February 12, 1873
Designer: William Barber
Weight: 420 grains
Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper
Melt-down (silver value) in year minted: $0.9814
PROOFS:
Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown
Proof mintage: 700. Delivery figures by month: January: 300; February: none; March: 200; April-June: none; July: 50; August: 50; September: 100; October-December: none.
Approximate population Proof-65 or better: 34+/-. Most are Type I/II. (URS-7)
Approximate population Proof-64: 108+/-. Most are Type I/II. (URS-8)
Approximate population Proof-63: 167+/-. Most are Type I/II. (URS-9)
Approximate population Proof-60 to 62: 185+/-. Most are Type I/II. (URS-9)