1881 Proof Trade Dollar

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The 1881 proof trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Proof Trade Dollars.  This coin is graded PCGS PF66 and has a population of ten with only three higher.

 

Mintage

960 Proofs

 

Coinage Context

Mintage limited to Proofs: Reflecting the dwindling fad, mintage of 1881 trade dollars (all Proofs) was once again nearly equal to the number of silver Proof sets minted (960 trade dollars vs. 975 of other silver denominations).

 

Inflow of business strikes continues: During 1881 the influx of earlier-dated trade dollars from foreign countries, primarily London, continued.

 

 

Numismatic Information

Speculation no longer a factor: By 1881, speculation was no longer a major factor in the market, and production of Proof trade dollars reverted to its normal level. Monthly figures are as follows: January, none; February 300, March 175, April 85, May 40, June 70, July none, August 10, September 25, October 51, November 38, and December 166. The total for the year came to 960.

 

Who bought them: Although the exact figures will never be known, I estimate that about half of these went to individual numismatists, some of whom ordered a duplicate or two; most of the remaining half went to dealers such as J.W. Scott (in particular), Ebenezer Mason, Jr., and others who had a wide trade. Inevitably, a few went to non-collectors who were casually interested in coins, some of whom ordered coins for anniversaries, holidays, or special events; such orders probably amounted to fewer than 50 coins. The same general comment concerning distribution can be made for most other Proof trade dollar dates of 1875-1878 and 1881-1883.

 

Poor workmanship: Most of the Proofs of this year were poorly struck and exhibit flatness in areas, particularly on the head of Miss Liberty and on the upper stars. This was due to incorrect die setting in the press. Poor striking continued to be a problem into 1883.

 

Availability of Proofs: Examples are available in various Proof grades from Proof-60 to Proof-65 or so. A few impaired and worn Proofs also exist.

 

 

Varieties:

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

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

 

Proofs:

1. Regular Proof issue: Breen-5827. Usually seen with flat head and stars. Obverse die retouched in a minor repair attempt. Drapery incomplete at sea. Reverse with incomplete feathers at inner edge of eagle’s right leg (this die was reused in 1882).

 

1a. Another reverse exists with minute, almost microscopic, die doubling on the inscription 420 GRAINS, 900 Fine (not as pronounced as on the 1882 die described below); very well struck, with all obverse and reverse features sharply defined.

 

 

1881 TRADE DOLLAR: MARKET VALUES

 

Click Here for Current Values

 

Year

Imp. P.

Proof

1881

---

$1.25

1885

---

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

2.30

1930

2.00

2.40

1935

2.50

3.00

1940

3.00

5.50

1945

5.50

11.00

1950

7.50

16.00

1955

18.00

35.00

1960

35.00

75.00

1965

130.00

275.00

1970

200.00

400.00

1975

480.00

1300.00

1980

850.00

2600.00

1985

1300.00

3350.00

 

 

Year

Imp. P.

P-60

P-63

P-64

P-65

1986

$1100

$1275

$2400

$5200

$9250

1987

1000

1150

2750

3700

9600

1988

975

1150

3400

5350

10200

1989

1050

1400

3450

6350

14400

1990

975

1350

2600

5250

9800

1991

950

1300

1750

2900

7400

1992

950

1300

2000

3250

6750

1993

         

1994

         

1995

         

 

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1881

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: $0.8969

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown. 2 or more. (One pair was destroyed on January 14, 1882; evidently at least one reverse was held over for 1882 use.)

 

Proof mintage: 960; Delivery figures by month: January: none; February: 300; March: 175; April: 85; May: 40; June: 70; July: none; August: 10; September: 25; October: 51; November: 38; December: 166.

 

Characteristics of striking: Often lightly struck with flatness on some stars. This problem continued into 1883.

 

Approximate population Proof-65 or better: 122+/- (URS-8)

 

Approximate population Proof-64: 234+/- (URS-9)

 

Approximate population Proof-63: 212+/- (URS-9)

 

Approximate population Proof-60 to 62: 198+/- (URS-9)

 

 

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