1873-S Trade Dollar

The 1873-S Trade Dollar from the Legend Collection of Mint State Trade Dollars.  It is graded PCGS MS66 and has a population of one with none finer.  

 

Mintage

703,000 Business strikes

 

Coinage Context

San Francisco a prime mint for trade dollar coinage: From the beginning, emphasis was placed on producing coins at the San Francisco Mint. This was for two reasons. First, the San Francisco Mint was near the supply of silver (which primarily came from Nevada) and, second, it was the closest United States mint to the Orient. In Philadelphia in October, a powerful coining press for trade dollars was completed by Morgan & Orr and was subsequently sent to San Francisco (see reprinted article below).

 

Production in 1873: Production of trade dollars began in San Francisco in July and continued strong throughout the rest of the calendar year, with the peak month of production being December, when 200,000 were struck. Total coinage for the year amounted to 703,000 pieces. Nearly all were exported to China. The vast majority were melted there or in India.

 

 

Numismatic Information

Circulated grades: While hardly common, enough 1873-S trade dollars exist in circulated grades from VF-20 to AU-58 that there is no difficulty in locating them. I estimate that from 3,000 to 6,000 or more exist. Many were chopmarked.

 

Mint State grades: As virtually the entire mintage of 1873-S trade dollars was exported to China, and as numismatists in the United States (1) were not interested in collecting by mintmark varieties, and (2) were not interested in trade dollars, very few were saved domestically.

Today in all Mint State grades as a combined total population the 1873-S trade dollar is considered by me to be the rarest of all the regular San Francisco business strike issues 1873-1878. Even years ago, when population reports and other data were not available, the 1873-S was considered to be a prime rarity at this grade level. However, if the grade MS-65 is considered separately, it is not as rare as 1874-S; I estimate that 4 to 8 1873-S dollars exist at this level, compared to 0 or perhaps 1 of 1874-S. Some 1873-S trade dollars have vertical die striations on obverse and reverse and are partially prooflike.

In the sale catalogue for the John M. Willem Collection, sold on September 5, 1980, Henry Christensen described what was undoubtedly the finest 1873-S Willem had been able to locate: "Unc.-60, with a few light bagmarks. Very scarce without chopmarks."

 

 

Varieties:

OBVERSE TYPE I: RIBBON ENDS POINT LEFT, 1873-1876

REVERSE TYPE I: BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1873-1876

 

Business Strikes:

 

1. Regular issue: Breen-5780. Fifteen pairs of dies were shipped, but to date specialists have not identified this number of minor variations. "Do any show broken serifs?" asks Walter H. Breen. Mintmark .9 mm. high. "Minute s" as compared to certain mintmarks used in later years. One example seen by the author has microscopic vertical die striations (finishing lines) on the obverse and reverse and at casual glance appeared prooflike; light striking on eagle’s dexter claws and on sinister leg and claws.

Many are seen with chopmarks.

 

 

1873-S TRADE DOLLAR: MARKET VALUES

 

Click Here for Current Values

 

Year

VF

EF

AU

Unc.

1873

---

---

---

$1.00

1875

---

---

$0.90

1.00

1880

---

$0.90

.90

1.00

1885

$0.90

.90

.90

1.00

1890

.90

.90

.90

1.00

1895

.90

.90

.90

1.00

1900

.90

1.00

1.10

1.25

1905

1.00

1.00

1.20

1.50

1910

1.50

1.75

2.00

2.50

1915

2.00

2.25

2.50

3.50

1920

2.25

2.50

3.00

4.00

1925

1.25

1.40

2.50

5.00

1930

2.25

3.00

4.00

8.00

1935

2.50

3.50

5.00

10.00

1940

2.50

4.50

10.00

22.50

1945

7.50

10.00

13.50

24.00

1950

8.00

11.00

14.00

25.00

1955

17.50

22.50

27.50

45.00

1960

25.00

39.00

47.50

77.50

1965

35.00

50.00

60.00

95.00

1970

50.00

67.50

100.00

170.00

1975

70.00

90.00

175.00

550.00

1980

95.00

150.00

250.00

850.00

1985

120.00

195.00

310.00

1100.00

 

 

Year

VF-20

EF-40

AU-50

MS-60

MS-63

MS-64

MS-65

1986

$140

225

$320

$925

$1650

$3200

$6800

1987

130

220

375

1000

1750

3500

7500

1988

130

225

400

1100

2150

3750

9800

1989

150

240

330

1100

2500

5400

17000

1990

150

225

325

1200

4500

5400

16500

1991

150

225

325

1200

4500

6000

16500

1992

155

230

340

1400

5000

8000

18000

1993

             

1994

             

1995

             

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1873-S

BUSINESS STRIKES:

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: $1.0221

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: 15; Reverse: 15. According to research by R.W. Julian, 6 pairs were sent from Philadelphia on July 13, 1873, 6 more on September 22nd, and the remaining 3 pairs at an unknown date. Dies lasted longer than at Carson City. If all die pairs were used, over 46,000 coins were produced per pair.

 

Business strike mintage: 703,000; Delivery figures by month: July: 42,000; August: 111,000; September: 137,000; October: 98,000; November: 115,000; December: 200,000.

 

Approximate population MS-65 or better: 1 or 2 (URS-1)

 

Approximate population MS-65 or better: 4 to 8 (URS-3)

 

Approximate population MS-64: 25 to 50 (URS-6)

 

Approximate population MS-63: 30 to 50 (URS-6)

 

Approximate population MS-60 to 62: 75 to 150 (URS-7)

 

Approximate population VF-20 to AU-58: 3,000-6,000+ (URS-13)

 

Characteristics of striking: Some have slight weakness on the eagle’s sinister leg and on the eagle’s claws.

 

Known hoards of Mint State coins: None

 

Rarity with original Chinese chopmark(s): Common.

 

PROOFS: None

 

 

COMMENTARY: Coinage commenced in July 1873. Nearly all were shipped to China.