The Legend Collection of United States Trade Dollars


To view these lovely coins, start here.


I started on the Legend Collection in 1995.  I'd been away from coin collecting for a few years but was actively thinking about returning.  I happened to see an MS63 1875 S/CC trade dollar advertised by Legend Numismatics in an issue of Coin World that I'd picked up at a local coin store.  Trade dollars had always been one of my favorite series, ever since my Great Grandmother had given me a circulated 1877S that she'd kept in her teapot on the kitchen shelf.  I remembered the S/CC as being a very rare coin that hardly ever came available and the price seemed quite reasonable for a PCGS certified coin.  I called and asked if I could see it on approval and ended up purchasing the coin.  Shortly thereafter, I purchased an 1873CC in PCGS MS63 that happened to come on the market.  I was now at a crossroads on only my second coin - to create a matched set of MS63 coins or go for the finest available (which is what the 73CC happened to be at that time).  The event that tipped the balance was the only (at that time) PCGS MS68 trade dollar coming up for auction.  Heritage allowed me to view the coin prior to the auction and I fell head over heels!  What an amazing coin!  I offered $100,000 on the spot, but was told it had to go through the auction process.  I was on pins and needles until I received the call from Legend informing me that we'd bought the coin.  Of course, the final price ended up being in the range of $130,000 but at this point I was hooked - the goal was now to build the finest collection of mint state trade dollars ever!  Over the next five years, we completed the set with high quality coins and slowly replaced lovely examples with even better coins that were finest or tied for finest known.


I believe the goal has been accomplished, though I am always looking for that upgrade coin that comes available.  In recent years we've added the Amon Carter 74CC, the Vermeule 73CC and several others.  There are a few more out there that I know of, and there's always the chance of a new discovery coin coming along!


I remember the Eliasberg sale in 1997 as the first time I contemplated completing the proof series.  Several high quality early dates came available at that sale and  I ended up purchasing the 1873, 1875, 1877 and 1878 at the auction and bidding on the 1884 and 1885.  The last two went for amounts that I just couldn't afford at the time.  I realized then that the mint state set was my first priority and set the proofs aside for the time being.  It wasn't until several years later, after the MS set was largely complete, that we set our sights again on the 1885.  After a year of back and forth semi-active negotiations, the Childs 1804 dollar came up for sale.  Knowing that Jay Parrino would be very interested in this coin, we were certain that if a deal could ever be made on the 1885 that the time was now.  With the aid of John Albanese, Legend finally negotiated a deal just prior to the auction.  The gem of the trade dollar set was now mine for the princely sum of $1,525,000!  Jay ended up missing out on the 1804 after much spirited bidding, but I'm left with the knowledge that I helped play a significant part in creating a world record price for that coin at auction.  We slowly filled in the rest of the set, but after the 1885, it's all downhill from there.  In October of 2002, the Eliasberg 1884 was purchased from Spectrum Numismatics, once again reuniting these two famous coins in the same collection!


I've illustrated each date and mintmark in the writeup section with the Legend Collection coin.  To view these lovely coins, start here.