1874-S Trade Dollar

The 1874-S trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Mint State Trade Dollars.  It is graded PCGS MS65 and has a population of one with none finer.

 

Mintage

2,549,000 Business strikes

 

Coinage Context

Large commercial demand: The year 1874 saw a great demand for trade dollars to be used in the China trade, and by the end of December some 2,549,000 coins were struck at the San Francisco facility, a record coinage which surpassed what had been done at all three mints the year before in 1873. With the exception of January, when no trade dollars were coined, and November, when 95,000 were struck, the mintage each month topped the 100,000 mark, hitting a high in May with 366,000 pieces.

True to the purpose for which they were coined, nearly all 1874-S trade dollars were shipped to the Orient. There they saw extensive service in commerce.

 

 

Numismatic Information

Circulated grades: Worn coins are moderately scarce but enough are around that examples are readily obtainable. In grades from VF-20 through AU-58 this is the most plentiful San Francisco Mint trade dollar (not including 1875-S/CC). Probably 2,500 to 5,000 exist.

Countless thousands of 1874-S trade dollars were chopmarked by merchants and bankers in Chinese ports, and many of these survive today. In terms of surviving pieces, this is the third most common variety existing with chopmarks.

 

Mint State grades: At the MS-65 level the 1874-S is one of those coins that should be readily available. After all, well over two million were minted. Surprisingly, it is a formidable rarity—one that was not recognized as such until relatively recent times. I have never seen an MS-65 coin, and as of April 1992, neither NGC nor PCGS had certified an example.

In MS-64 condition the 1874-S exists to the extent of about 20 to 40 coins, making it quite elusive. At the MS-63 level about 30 to 50 are believed to exist. Finally, in the MS-60 to 62 range the 1874-S approaches availability. Here, there will be no problem in finding one. About 400 to 800 exist.

In general, the 1874-S will win no prizes for sharp striking; many if not most show some weakness at the top of the obverse and/or on the reverse at the eagle’s sinister claws.

 

Mintmark size varieties: While most collectors, indeed the overwhelming majority of them, opt to acquire but a single example to illustrate the 1874-S, there are three distinct sizes of mintmarks—the minute (called "micro" by Breen) s, medium S, and large S. From the 1850s through the 1870s various silver denominations were made with different mintmark sizes, the most publicized of which are the half dollars of the 1860s.

 

Something to watch for: Some Medium S coin (No. 2 below) have the reverse rotated about 15 counterclockwise. In the past these have sold for no additional premium. However, the variety would lend interest to any collection.

 

 

Varieties:

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

REVERSE TYPE I: BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1873-1876

 

Business Strikes: As noted, the 1874-S exists with "micro," medium and large S mintmarks. Most extant trade dollars of this date have mintmarks of the medium size. The micro and large issues are considered to be elusive. Varieties are as follows:

 

1. Minute s: Breen-5783. Mintmark .9 mm. high. Very scarce.

 

2. Medium S: Breen-5784. Normal. Mintmark 1.1 mm. high. Common. Often chopmarked. Many (all?) have broken letters. See, for example, top of E in UNITED. Some have the reverse rotated about 15 counterclockwise.

 

3. Medium S, doubled reverse die: Mintmark 1.1 mm. high. One variety shows doubled reverse die, plainest (not very) at bases of TRADE DOLLAR. (With broken letters?)

 

4. Large S: Breen-5785. Mintmark 1.17 mm. high. Serifs of mintmark far from middle curve. With period after FINE. Often chopmarked. Much scarcer than No. 2.

 

5. Large S: Breen-5785. Mintmark 1.17 mm. high. No period after FINE (from damaged hub). (Broken letters?)

 

 

1874-S 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

$0.90

.90

1.00

1.00

1890

.90

.90

.90

1.00

1895

.90

.90

.90

1.00

1900

.90

.90

.90

1.20

1905

1.00

1.00

1.25

1.50

1910

1.25

1.25

1.50

2.00

1915

1.50

1.75

2.00

2.50

1920

1.75

2.00

2.25

3.00

1925

2.00

2.50

3.25

4.00

1930

2.25

2.75

3.75

5.00

1935

2.50

3.00

4.00

6.00

1940

1.50

3.00

4.00

6.00

1945

4.00

5.00

7.00

11.00

1950

4.00

5.00

7.00

11.00

1955

8.50

10.00

12.00

16.00

1960

14.00

16.00

20.00

30.00

1965

35.00

45.00

55.00

75.00

1970

42.50

52.50

70.00

137.50

1975

70.00

85.00

165.00

510.00

1980

77.00

125.00

240.00

800.00

1985

80.00

160.00

285.00

980.00

 

 

Year

VF-20

EF-40

AU-50

MS-60

MS-63

MS-64

MS-65

1986

$75

$160

$290

$640

$1600

$3100

$6600

1987

85

170

295

550

1525

3250

7400

1988

85

175

300

550

1650

3450

9700

1989

85

180

290

600

1800

5250

16500

1990

85

165

250

540

1250

5250

14000

1991

85

165

250

490

1350

3200

8500

1992

90

125

225

450

2250

4650

10000

1993

             

1994

             

1995

             

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1874-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: $1.0058

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: 34; Reverse: 42. According to R.W. Julian, 4 obverses and 4 reverses were ordered on February 27th (shipment date unknown); 12 obverses and 4 reverses were sent on March 17th; 6 pairs June 27th; 12 obverses and 24 reverses August 3rd; total 34 obverses, 42 reverses. Of these, 30 obverses and 27 reverses were destroyed on February 1, 1875.

 

Business strike mintage: 2,549,000; Delivery figures by month: January: none; February: 270,000; March: 250,000; April: 273,000; May: 366,000; June: 259,000; July: 158,000; August: 191,000; September: 271,000; October: 229,000; November: 95,000; December: 187,000. This averages out to 84,966 per die-pair.

 

Approximate population MS-66 or better: 0 or 1 (URS-0)

 

Approximate population MS-65 or better: 3 or 4 (URS-2)

 

Approximate population MS-64: 20 to 40 (URS-6)

 

Approximate population MS-63: 50 to 100 (URS-7)

 

Approximate population MS-60 to 62: 400 to 800+ (URS-10)

 

Approximate population VF-20 to AU-58: 2,500-5,000. (URS-13)

 

Characteristics of striking: Some business strikes are lightly impressed on Miss Liberty’s head and stars 6 and 7 and/or on the eagle’s sinister claws.

 

Known hoards of Mint State coins: None

 

Rarity with original Chinese chopmark(s): Extremely plentiful. Third most common of all chopmarked trade dollars.

 

 

PROOFS: None

 

 

COMMENTARY: Most were shipped to the Orient. Numerous chopmarked coins exist today.