1874 Trade Dollar

The 1874 mint state trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Mint State Trade Dollars.  It is graded PCGS MS67 and has a population of one with none finer.  It is the finest known by two grades.

 

Mintage

987,100 Business strikes

 

Coinage Context

Unusually high production of business strikes: With a production of 987,100 business strikes, the 1874 was struck in large quantities for a Philadelphia Mint trade dollar, considering that Philadelphia was the most distant of all mints from the Orient. In fact, this coinage figure remained the high water mark for Philadelphia until the record coinage of 1877 (3 million+).

Most of the business strike mintage occurred early in the 1874 year and throughout the summer. None was coined from October through December. Nearly all of the 1874 mintage was shipped to the Orient.

 

Numismatic Information

Common with chopmarks: As nearly all coins were shipped to China, most were melted there or elsewhere in the Orient or at the Calcutta Mint (to which location Chinese interests shipped many coins). However, enough remained in circulation in Chinese ports over the years that many coins were counterstamped. Today, the 1874 is the most common Philadelphia Mint counterstamped coin and is even more plentiful than the higher-mintage 1877.

 

An unusual counterstamp: Many United States coins dated 1874, of the quarter dollar, half dollar, and trade dollar denomination, were counterstamped on the obverse with the inscription in three lines, SAGE’S / CANDY / COIN. It is not known if these were premiums included in candy boxes, or whether they simply advertised a product known as Sage’s Candy; nor are the identity and location of the issuer known. Inasmuch as this is the only American merchant’s counterstamp known to have been issued in quantity on trade dollars, I mention it here. About four to six specimens are known to exist.

 

Circulated grades: In circulated grades the 1874 is on the scarce side, especially in comparison to its San Francisco Mint contemporaries. I estimate that about 2,500 to 4,500 or so exist in grades from VF-20 to AU-58.

 

Mint State grades: As might be expected from the lack of extensive domestic circulation within the United States, the 1874 trade dollar is rare today in Mint State. The mintage was large enough that some survived by chance, including unchopmarked pieces in the Orient, but by and large, Mint State coins are hard to find. At the MS-65 level I estimate that perhaps 6 to 10 coins survive, while in each of the MS-64 and 63 categories, the population is more on the order of 50 or so to 100, with MS-64 coins being a bit scarcer than MS-63 examples.

In grades from MS-60 to 62 I believe that about 150 to 250 exist, which by any standard makes the issue a rarity. If this were a Morgan dollar, it would sell for tens of thousands of dollars in MS-60! Pssst! Don’t tell anyone—trade dollars are bargains! (Which reminds me to quote the caption under Bruce Amspacher’s photograph on p. 636 of John Highfill’s Encyclopedia: "Well, tell me the truth, aren’t trade dollars fascinating?"

 

Varieties:

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

REVERSE TYPE I: BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1873-1876

 

Business Strikes:

1. With normal serifs: Breen-5782.

 

2. With broken serifs: Breen-5782. Some business strikes are from reverses showing broken serifs partly repaired by hand. It is unknown if these are rarer or more common than those with normal serifs or unrepaired broken serifs.

 

 

1874 TRADE DOLLAR: MARKET VALUES

 

Click Here for Current Values

 

Year

VF

EF

AU

Unc.

 

1874

---

---

---

$1.00

 

1875

---

---

---

1.00

 

1880

---

$0.90

$0.90

1.00

 

1885

$1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

 

1890

.90

.90

.90

1.00

 

1895

.90

.90

.90

1.00

 

1900

.90

.90

1.00

1.10

 

1905

.90

.90

1.00

1.25

 

1910

.90

.90

1.10

1.25

 

1915

1.00

1.00

1.10

1.25

 

1920

1.00

1.00

1.10

1.25

 

1925

1.25

1.30

1.40

1.50

 

1930

1.25

1.30

1.40

1.75

 

1935

1.50

1.75

2.00

2.50

 

1940

1.50

1.75

2.00

2.50

 

1945

3.00

3.25

3.50

5.00

 

1950

3.00

3.50

4.00

6.00

 

1955

5.00

7.50

10.00

13.50

 

1960

12.50

16.00

20.00

27.50

 

1965

17.50

22.50

27.50

40.00

 

1970

32.50

40.00

55.00

110.00

 

1975

70.00

85.00

175.00

500.00

 

1980

80.00

125.00

250.00

800.00

 

1985

140.00

175.00

275.00

1100.00

 

 

 

Year

VF-20

EF-40

AU-50

MS-60

MS-63

MS-64

MS-65

1986

$150

180

$275

$625

$1650

$3200

$6600

1987

140

190

285

550

1650

3500

7400

1988

140

200

300

550

1700

3600

9750

1989

140

210

320

650

1850

5250

16500

1990

140

210

300

525

1250

5250

11500

1991

140

200

295

500

1350

3400

11000

1992

140

190

275

500

1450

3000

10000

1993

             

1994

             

1995

             

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1874

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: $1.0058

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown

 

Business strike mintage: 987,100; Delivery figures by month: January: 19,000; February: 134,800; March: 199,900; April: 105,000; May: 97,800; June: 103,600; July: 100,000; August: 96,000; September: 131,000; October-December: none.

 

Approximate population MS-66 or better: 1 or 2 (URS-1)

 

Approximate population MS-65 or better: 6 to 10 (URS-4)

 

Approximate population MS-64: 40 to 60 (URS-6)

 

Approximate population MS-63: 40 to 80 (URS-6)

 

Approximate population MS-60 to 62: 100 to 200 (URS-9)

 

Approximate population VF-20 to AU-58: 2,500-4,500+. (URS-13)

 

Characteristics of striking: Some have weakness on the obverse on Miss Liberty’s head and at stars 6 and 7; on some the weakness extends to stars left and right of these. Some have light striking on eagle’s sinister leg.

 

Known hoards of Mint State coins: None.

 

Rarity with original Chinese chopmark(s): The most common chopmarked Philadelphia Mint trade dollar; one of the most common of all chopmarked trade dollars.

 

COMMENTARY: Most were shipped to the China. With chopmarks, the 1874 is the most common Philadelphia Mint trade dollar. Unchopmarked and in Mint State the 1874 is rare.