1878-S Trade Dollar

The 1878-S trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Mint State Trade Dollars.  This coin is graded PCGS MS67 and has a population of two with one finer.   This is the finest of the coins from the hoard found in Seattle in 1989.

 

Mintage

4,162,000 Business strikes

 

Coinage Context

Production halt delayed: By February 22, 1878, when Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman halted trade dollar mintage, the San Francisco Mint has already made 1,695,819 pieces. This branch did not end production until early April; by then the total was 4,162,000, nearly a record production (the fourth highest in the series).

By the time that the last 1878-S trade dollar fell from the dies, coins of this denomination valued at over $36 million had been produced, a staggering sum, and an amount over four times greater than all of the silver dollars that had been coined from 1794 until the denomination was suspended in 1873.

In a way it is curious that the trade dollar denomination was suspended at the very height of its success, but such was (and is) politics. The Bland-Allison Act offered greater opportunities for the silver market than did the trade dollar legislation; now, with the Bland-Allison Act and the Morgan dollar, the government was forced to buy silver and make silver dollars. It was never forced to make trade dollars.

Quantities melted: It is believed that quantities of this issue were melted at the San Francisco Mint, but no records have been seen. Quantities of 1878-S trade dollars remained in commercial channels in the Orient through the 1950s.

 

Numismatic Information

Circulated grades: In circulated grades from VF-20 to AU-58 there are probably 30,000 or more coins in existence. In terms of ease of availability it is second only to 1877-S. Chopmarked coins are plentiful and are the second most common issue (after 1877-S).

The 1877-S and 1878-S have been favorites for inclusion in type sets because of their availability.

Mint State grades: In Mint State the 1878-S is one of the most available of all trade dollar issues. My population estimates are as follows: MS-65: 70 to 140 or more; MS-64: 175 to 350 or more; MS-63: 200 to 400 or more; and MS-60 to 62: 1,000 to 2,000 or more.

 

Varieties:

OBVERSE TYPE II, RIBBON ENDS POINT DOWN, 1876-1885

REVERSE TYPE II: NO BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1875-1885

 

Business strikes:

1. Large (also called "medium") filled S: Breen-5819. Mintmark 1.17 mm. high. Mintmark filled (so that it appears as a blob). Do any of these have the broken R and/or missing periods of 1877-S dies? Common.

 

2. 1878-S Large clear S: Breen-5820. Mintmark 1.2 mm. high. Common. Do any of these have the broken R and/or missing periods of 1877-S dies? At least one variety has the right extension of the crossbar missing in 4 in 420 (on some impressions the extension is weak and barely visible). One variety has an extra point to obverse star 10.

 

3. 1878-S Doubled reverse die: Breen-5821. Fivaz & Stanton $1-015. Rare. Doubling plainest at 420 GRAINS, UNITED, and arrow tips. Large S mintmark. Illustrated in Numismatic News February 16, 1988, p. 6, Coin World November 29, 1989, p. 106. Rare. The several seen by the author have been in VF grade.

 

 

1878-S TRADE DOLLAR: MARKET VALUES

 

Click Here for Current Values

 

Year

VF

EF

AU

Unc.

1878

---

---

---

$1.00

1880

---

---

$0.90

1.00

1885

---

$1.00

1.00

1.00

1890

$0.90

.90

.90

1.00

1895

.90

.90

.90

1.00

1900

.90

.90

.90

1.00

1905

.90

.90

1.00

1.25

1910

.90

.90

1.00

1.25

1915

1.00

1.00

1.10

1.25

1920

1.00

1.00

1.10

1.25

1925

1.10

1.10

1.10

1.25

1930

1.10

1.10

1.10

1.50

1935

1.50

1.60

1.70

2.00

1940

1.50

1.60

1.70

2.00

1945

3.00

3.10

3.25

4.00

1950

3.50

3.75

4.25

6.00

1955

7.50

8.50

10.00

13.50

1960

10.00

12.00

14.00

20.00

1965

16.00

17.50

22.50

35.00

1970

32.50

37.50

50.00

100.00

1975

60.00

85.00

160.00

460.00

1980

75.00

115.00

235.00

750.00

1985

75.00

140.00

250.00

950.00

 

 

Year

VF-20

EF-40

AU-50

MS-60

MS-63

MS-64

MS-65

1986

$75

$160

$250

$600

$1600

$3100

$6500

1987

90

150

265

550

1600

3350

7250

1988

75

155

280

550

1600

3400

9700

1989

80

150

275

610

1750

5250

16500

1990

85

160

275

500

1250

5250

11500

1991

85

155

250

500

1250

3000

7500

1992

90

125

275

425

1400

2850

7500

1993

             

1994

             

1995

             

 

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1878-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: $0.9070

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown. (On December 29, 1880, 36 reverse dies were returned to the Philadelphia Mint.)

 

Business strike mintage: 4,162,000; Delivery figures by month: January: 1,335,000; February: 1,484,000; March: 1,308,000; April: 35,000.

 

Approximate population MS-66 or better: 25 to 30+ (URS-6)

 

Approximate population MS-65 or better: 70 to 140+ (URS-8)

 

Approximate population MS-64: 175 to 350+ (URS-9)

 

Approximate population MS-63: 200 to 400+ (URS-9)

 

Approximate population MS-60 to 62: 1,000 to 2,000+ (URS-12)

 

Approximate population VF-20 to AU-58: 30,000+. (URS-16)

 

Characteristics of striking: Usually seen well struck. However, among large mintage issues such as this there are many variations in striking quality.

 

Known hoards of Mint State coins: A small hoard of 25 pieces surfaced in Seattle in 1989; some of these were later sold in the 1990 ANA Convention auction sale.

 

Rarity with original Chinese chopmark(s): 1878-S. Extremely plentiful. Second most common (after 1877-S) of all chopmarked trade dollars.

 

 

PROOFS: None

 

 

COMMENTARY: The 1878-S is very common in all grades.