1879 Proof Trade Dollar

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The 1879 proof trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Proof Trade Dollars.  This coin is graded PCGS PF66 and has a population of twenty with only eight higher.

 

Mintage

1,541 Proofs

 

Coinage Context

Production limited to Proofs this year: No more business strikes were coined; only Proofs were made, for collectors, dated through 1885. The various mints were instead making enormous quantities of Morgan dollars, unacceptable in China, circulating little in the United States, and mostly staying in bank vaults and the Treasury.

 

An influx of trade dollars: By 1879, trade dollars of earlier dates were flowing back into the United States in quantity (see Mint report reprinted below).

 

Numismatic Information

Popular speculation: There arose in 1879, and continued into 1880, a popular numismatic speculation (later extended to the general public). Word spread that certain coins were of low mintage and would become rare. The "best" condition was considered to be Proofs (business strikes were generally ignored and, in any event, were not available in the trade dollar series). Emphasis was on nickel three-cent pieces and trade dollars, both denominations of which were minted in record Proof numbers. A heightened interest developed in other Mint products as well, especially patterns. Several years later this speculation would extend to regular issue Proof and business strike gold dollars.

 

Proof mintage: The fever to squirrel away Proof trade dollars did not develop until later in 1879, as the monthly Proof production figures reveal: January: 122, February: 96, March: 75, April: 119, May: 90, June: 140, July: 40, August: 45, September: 89, October: 64, November: 80, and, finally, December with a whopping 581.

An examination of the monthly figures for the following year, 1880 (see next listing), reveals that production of 1880 Proofs was strongest early in that year, but soon faded. Apparently, the Proof trade dollar boom was very short-lived (reminiscent of some booms today!) and extended only from December 1879 through the early part of 1880.

 

Availability of Proofs today: Most specimens were saved, but with varying degrees of care. Examples are readily available, for a price, in the different grade levels from Proof-60 to Proof-65.

 

 

Varieties:

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

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

 

Proofs:

1. First variety: Breen-5825. Top of 8 imperfect (very slightly chipped logotype). Edge of left side of 7 below and slightly to the right of the center of E in IN GOD WE TRUST. Reverse with full feathers. Normal serifs and periods, evidently from a new hub. One in the Katen Sale, June 1992, Lot 115, had Proof surface between eagle’s claw and branch; arrow feathers incomplete and with Proof surface between fragments; this die was also used in 1883 (and possibly in other years).

 

2. Second variety: Obverse with top of 8 imperfect as above, but with lower left of 1 in date repunched and appearing doubled at the left end of the serif (under magnification). Edge of left side of 7 in line with right side of E in IN GOD WE TRUST. Reverse as No. 1.

 

3. Third variety: Obverse die probably one of the above (not seen by the author). Reverse with many incomplete feathers in eagle’s legs and lower belly. Cf. 1974 GENA auction, Lot 1181 and Gilhousen (Superior) sale, Lot 1478.

 

 

1879 TRADE DOLLAR: MARKET VALUES

 

Click Here for Current Values

 

Year

Imp. P.

Proof

1878

---

$1.25

1880

---

1.50

1885

$1.25

1.50

1890

1.10

1.25

1895

1.10

1.25

1900

1.10

1.25

1905

1.10

1.25

1910

1.25

1.50

1915

1.25

1.50

1920

1.40

1.75

1925

1.75

2.00

1930

2.00

2.25

1935

2.50

3.00

1940

3.00

5.00

1945

5.50

11.00

1950

7.00

15.00

1955

13.00

27.50

1960

30.00

60.00

1965

125.00

275.00

1970

175.00

375.00

1975

475.00

1250.00

1980

850.00

2500.00

1985

1250.00

3200.00

 

 

Year

Imp. P.

P-60

P-63

P-64

P-65

1986

$1000

$1260

$2400

$5000

$9050

1987

950

1100

2600

3600

9400

1988

950

1100

2900

5250

10000

1989

1025

1350

3200

6200

14200

1990

875

1200

2400

5250

9750

1991

900

1250

1700

2900

7300

1992

900

1250

2000

3250

6750

1993

         

1994

         

1995

         

 

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1879

PROOFS:

Enabling legislation: Act of February 12, 1873

 

Business strike mintage: None

 

Designer: William Barber

 

Weight: 420 grains

 

Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper

 

Melt-down (silver value) in year minted: $0.9374

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown

 

Proof mintage: 1,541; Delivery figures by month: January: 122; February: 96; March: 75; April: 119; May: 90; June: 140; July: 40; August: 45; September: 89; October: 64; November: 80; December: 581.

 

Characteristics of striking: Usually well struck.

 

Approximate population Proof-65 or better: 138+/- (URS-9)

 

Approximate population Proof-64: 104+/- (URS-8)

 

Approximate population Proof-63: 282+/- (URS-10)

 

Approximate population Proof-60 to 62: 318+/- (URS-10)

 

 

COMMENTARY: Proof-only issue made for collectors; no business strikes were produced.