Registry of 1885 Trade Dollars


1. The Granberg Specimen. NGC PF-61

•Mint official, possibly Col. A. Loudon Snowden

•William Idler. Idler, a Philadelphia rare coin dealer, had close ties to the Mint. Through him various insiders, probably including Col. Archibald Loudon Snowden, superintendent of the Mint in early 1885, sold "special pieces" made privately for sale on the numismatic market. This practice was rampant at the Mint from at least circa 1858 through June 1885, and, occasionally, later (as under George T. Morgan, engraver, who restruck MCMVII Extremely High Relief $20 pieces and who made up special Proofs, etc., for his personal profit).

•Capt. John W. Haseltine. Haseltine, Idler’s son-in-law, was a well-known and highly respected Philadelphia dealer, who conducted numerous auction sales, published his Type Table studies of certain early silver series (as an auction catalogue; research was by J. Colvin Randall, who received no credit line), and who handled numerous rarities, some in partnership with Stephen K. Nagy.

•Henry O. Granberg, B. Max Mehl’s sale of July 1913, Lot 392, $1,140. Granberg, one-time president of the American Numismatic Association, was a businessman who traveled widely and bought coins aggressively. He was known as one of the biggest buyers during the early twentieth century and formed and sold several specialized collections. Granberg exhibited an 1885 trade dollar (and also an 1884) at the 1916 A.N.A. Convention, three years after the 1913 auction mentioned here. Whether the 1913 coin was unsold and was still owned by Granberg in 1916, or whether Granberg owned a second coin, is not known. In the July 16, 1919 sale of the Henry O. Granberg Collection, by Mehl, there was an 1884 trade dollar but no 1885.

•William H. Woodin. An industrialist par excellence, William Hartman Woodin was a collector of gold coins and patterns, among other interests. Later, he served for a brief time as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s secretary of the Treasury, until illness forced him to retire.

•Col. Edward H.R. Green. Edward Howland Robinson Green was the millionaire playboy son of eccentric Wall Street financier Hetty Green. In his time he acquired many rarities, often in duplicate.

•Burdette G. Johnson. Proprietor of the St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co., Johnson was an active figure on the numismatic scene for many years. Among his accomplishments were the handling of the Brand and Col. Green estates.

•Jack V. Roe, B. Max Mehl’s sale of June 1945, Lot 628, $1,275.

•Jerome Kern, B. Max Mehl’s sale of May 1950, Lot 897, $1,450. "Perfect brilliant Proof gem." Kern, a famous composer, had many songs and shows to his credit.

•Amon Carter Sr. & Jr., Stack’s, January 1984, Lot 441, $110,000. "Choice Brilliant Proof, light hairlines."

•Kevin Lipton. From his office in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Kevin Lipton traveled widely, especially on the coin convention and auction circuit, and handled many important coins. In the 1980s he relocated to Beverly Hills, California.

•Auction ’84, Lot 192, $90,750. "Brilliant Proof 63. A Choice Brilliant Proof specimen with full glittering mirror surfaces, light hairlines encircled by natural russet and steel-blue iridescent toning about the borders." This was one of two 1885 trade dollars in Auction ’84 (the other was the Olsen specimen described below).

•Fred L. Fredericks. Consigned to the following.

•Superior’s L.W. Hoffecker Collection sale, February 1987, Lot 1446B, $96,250. "Brilliant Proof 65. Well struck and pristine with full mirror surfaces and delicately frosted devices, giving an excellent ‘cameo’ effect. All is further enhanced by attractive pale golden and violet iridescent toning surrounding the borders on both sides."

•Eugene Worrell Collection

Superior Galleries Worrell Collection Sale, September 1993  NGC PF61  $242,000.

Numismatic Fund



2. The Farouk Specimen. PCGS PF-62

•Mint official, possibly Col. A. Loudon Snowden

•William Idler

•Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy

•Private collection(s)

•King Farouk of Egypt

•Palace Collections of Egypt (name on sale catalogue), Sotheby’s, Cairo, Egypt, February 1954, Lot 1680, $1,665. Catalogued by A.H. Baldwin & Sons, Ltd., London: "Proof. Extremely Fine, extremely rare." (£550 Egyptian, plus 5% surcharge = $1,665).

•Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb

•Norweb Collection, Bowers and Merena, March 1988, Lot 1848, $121,000. "Proof-60 to 63. An attractive, sharply struck example with nearly all details sharply defined. The fully lustrous devices complement the reflective fields. The obverse is brilliant with splashes of amber and gray toning. The reverse has a suggestion of golden brown around the letters and the central device. This example would deserve the Proof-65 classification if it were not for the presence of light hairlines."

•American Coin Portfolios (Dan Drykerman, California professional numismatist, who also bought the Norweb 1884 trade dollar). Sold to the following.

•Private New York collection

•Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc. by private treaty, March 20, 1992

•Private New England Collection, private treaty, March 23, 1992. Weight: 418.8 grains. Above average strike, but with some lightness of striking on stars 5 and 6.

Legend Numismatics, August 1998

Private Collection


3. Adams Specimen. Proof-63

•Mint official, possibly Col. A. Loudon Snowden

•William Idler

•Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy

•Private collection

•Edgar H. Adams. Edgar H. Adams, a writer for the New York Sun and, at one time, editor of The Numismatist, was America’s most prolific numismatic scholar during the first 15 years of the twentieth century. For the American Numismatic Society, New York, he produced what would become the standard reference works on territorial and private gold coins and, with William H. Woodin, on pattern coins. Adams, who lived in Brooklyn, was also a coin dealer and handled many items.

•Virgil M. Brand. Acquired for $750 from Adams on April 26, 1911. Brand was a wealthy Chicago collector who began his interest in numismatics in 1879, started keeping ledgers in 1889; by whose death in 1926 had acquired over 350,000 numismatic specimens. His estate was divided between his brothers, Horace and Armin, and was numismatically administered by Burdette G. Johnson and Henry Chapman.

•Brand Estate. (See additional information in general discussion above.)

•Ruth Green. Advertised in The Numismatist, December 1941, p. 976. "Brilliant Proof. Offered only ONE TIME at auction, Mehl’s sale of Granberg Collection, 1913, and sold for $1,140. ONLY FIVE COINED. A great rarity. Price $850.00." Charles E. Green, a Chicago rare coin dealer for many years, conducted business under his wife Ruth’s name, as R. Green. (Either Charles E. Green confused this specimen with No. 1, described above, or he was referring to 1885 trade dollars in general.)

•Clint Hester

•Adolphe Menjou Collection, Numismatic Gallery, June 1950, Lot 2041, $1,350. Adolphe was a leading movie star in the 1940s. Numismatic Gallery, founded in 1943, was owned by Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg. The firm was dissolved in 1954. The coin was probably owned by Clint Hester, not Menjou. A number of Hester’s coins were in the Menjou Sale.

•Benjamin Stack, Imperial Coin Company (48 West 48th Street, New York City; later moved to Las Vegas). Advertised in The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, March 1955, p. 384, with an 1884, for $6,500 the pair, as follows: "Special Offering, subject to prior sale. BRILIANT PROOF TRADE DOLLARS. 1884 (10 Coins struck), 1885 (5 Coins struck). Note: The 1885 offered above is the only available specimen. The other FOUR specimens are in private collections of such magnitude that it is doubted if they will ever be offered for sale again. SOLD AS A PAIR: $6,500.00."

•W.G. Baldenhofer, Farish Baldenhofer Collection (Stack’s, November 1955), Lot 1040, $4,000. "This coin is a splendid brilliant Proof, slightly toned."

•Private collection

•Julian Leidman, Mike Brownlee, and Hugh Sconyers in partnership. Sold almost immediately afterward at the 1974 ANA Convention with an 1884 for $180,000, to the following.

•James Halperin of New England Rare Coin Galleries, Inc., Boston (who is said to have refused Herbert Melnick’s offer of $250,000 for it in the presence of Walter H. Breen at the 1974 ANA Convention; later offered for $300,000; then price dropped to $165,000; see reprint of brochure under Additional Information below). Eventual selling price said to have been $115,000. Later, in the 1980s, Jim Halperin moved to Dallas, Texas and became a partner with Steve Ivy in Heritage Galleries. Sold to the following.

Forecaster newsletter (John Kamin, owner and publisher). John Kamin, a consulting economist, publishes The Forecaster newsletter with financial advice and from time to time has recommended various areas of the rare coin market. Sold to the following.

•Private collection



4. The Atwater Specimen. NGC PF-66

•Mint official, possibly Col. A. Loudon Snowden

•William Idler

•Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy

•William Cutler Atwater Collection, B. Max Mehl sale, June 1946, Lot 378, $1,450. "Perfect brilliant gem Proof." Mehl noted that in the recent three years (actually 19 months) he had sold three 1885 trade dollars (Olsen’s, 1944; Granberg’s, in his Roe sale, 1945; and this one). This represented all he had handled in the preceding quarter century.

•Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.

Bowers & Merena's Sale of the Eliasberg Collection, April 6-8, 1997.  Sold to Jay Parrino's The Mint for $907,500.

Legend Collection of United States Trade Dollars, August 1999.  $1,525,000



5. The Olsen Specimen. Proof-60

•Mint official, possibly Col. A. Loudon Snowden

•William Idler

•Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy

•Private collection

•Fred Olsen Collection, B. Max Mehl sale, November 1944, Lot 1767, $1,150. "Brilliant Proof. Of excessive rarity. Probably not more than four specimens known. Listed in the Standard Catalogue at $1,000.00 and certainly worth it. In point of actual rarity it is worth at least double that of the 1804 dollar."

•George Sealy Ewalt Collection, Stack’s, November 1965, Lot 43, $11,000. "This coin is a brilliant Proof with faint hairlines in the field which do not impair the value of this outstanding rarity."

•Leo A. Young Collection, Rarcoa’s section of Auction ’80, Lot 1626, $110,000. "The 1885 trade dollar…is a simulated series coin for which no listing can be found in the Annual Reports of the Director of the Mint. Nonetheless, with ONLY FIVE PIECES KNOWN TO EXIST, it is a RARE and desirable piece of U.S. numismatics.… The piece offered here, the Leo A. Young specimen, is a BRILLIANT PROOF with obverse hairlines." For many years Leo A. Young was a dealer in Oakland, California (and other locations). Among his many catalogues, perhaps the best known is that for the 1959 ANA Sale.

•Julian Leidman. Sold to the following for c. $125,000.

•Michael Follett. Texas rare coin dealer; long-time advertiser in The Numismatist.

•Private collection

•Rarcoa’s session of Auction ’84, Lot 1810, $96,250. The catalogue description repeated that used in Auction ’80. This was one of two 1885 trade dollars in Auction ’84; the other was the Granberg coin. Sold to the following.

•John N. Rowe, III. Well-known Dallas, Texas professional numismatist. Sold to the following.

•L.R. French, Jr.

•L.R. French, Jr. Family Collection, Stack’s, January 1989, Lot 202, $104,500. "Brilliant Proof, with light hairlines in the fields. Light toning on the devices. The fields are still well mirrored. There are some light freckles on Liberty’s arm. The reverse die has a faint raised guide line in the field just in front of the twelve denticles to the left of UNITED, showing conclusively that it is not the reverse die used on the 1884 issue." Sold to the following.

•Charles Barasch, of International Coins & Currency, Inc., Montpelier, Vermont. Purchased for the following.

•Private Northeast collection.


Notes concerning 1885 trade dollars which cannot be specifically attributed today to one of the five coins in the above list, but which, undoubtedly, are part of it:

1. In The Numismatist, March 1914, Edgar H. Adams offered at fixed prices Proof 1884 and 1885 trade dollars for $400 and $1,000 respectively.

2. In The Numismatist, June 1944, p. 546, the Celina Coin Company advertised a complete set of Proof trade dollars, including these listings: "1884 Very Rare, $400.00," and "1885 Excessively Rare, $1,000.00." These were sold by Burdette G. Johnson from the Virgil Brand estate to the Brandts brothers. In a subsequent issue of The Numismatist, only the 1884 was listed, indicating that the 1885 had been sold separately. This 1885 may be No. 2 or No. 3 in the above registry.