1885 Proof Trade Dollar

1885 obv.JPG (31091 bytes)

The 1885 proof trade dollar from the Legend Collection of Proof Trade Dollars.  It is graded NGC PF66 and has a population of one with none finer.  This coin is the finest by three grades and formerly was in the Eliasberg Collection.

 

Mintage

At least 5 Proofs

 

 

Coinage Context

No trade dollars officially struck: In the year 1885 there was no business strike mintage of trade dollars, nor was there an official Proof coinage.

 

 

Numismatic Information

1885 trade dollars surface: Proof trade dollars dated 1885 first became known to the numismatic fraternity when five pieces came on the market in 1908. These were said to have been the property of William Idler, old-time Philadelphia coin dealer. Presumably, Idler had close connections with the Mint and obtained them from an employee or officer, possibly Superintendent A. Loudon Snowden. From Idler they went to his son-in-law, Capt. John W. Haseltine, and Haseltine’s partner, Stephen K. Nagy.

Most likely 1885 Proof trade dollars were struck early in that year, after the January 2, 1885 destruction of the 1884 obverse and reverse die (for the 1885 is from a different reverse than used in 1884), but before Col. A. Loudon Snowden, superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint since 1879, turned in his resignation in June 1885. His successor as superintendent, Daniel M. Fox, was very circumspect and proper, and no hint of making "fancy pieces" ever surfaced during his administration.

No Proof 1885 trade dollars are listed in Mint reports or records, and it is supposed that the coinage was unofficial, although not illegal. Today, specimens are highly prized as great rarities and are among the most famous and desirable of all United States silver coins.

 

Virgil M. Brand: Brand, the famous Chicago collector who owned five specimens of the rare 1884 trade dollar, is believed to have owned two or possibly three 1885 trade dollars. However, record of just one transaction is now at hand: the coin purchased on April 26, 1911 from Edgar H. Adams for $750. How the Brand specimen(s) of the 1885 trade dollar fit into the register of coins given below is not known at the present time. One 1885 trade dollar, Brand inventory No. 57897, was given to Virgil’s brother Armin in the split of Virgil’s estate. By September 6, 1938 the coin had been sold through Burdette G. Johnson as agent. (Information concerning the specific date of sale and the buyer may be in the Brand papers in the American Numismatic Society.) Henry O. Granberg, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is known to have had at least one 1885 trade dollar and possibly two.

Also see comments under previous listing for the 1884 trade dollar, a closely related coin.

 

Varieties:

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

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

 

Proofs:

1. Normal issue: Breen-5831. Issued clandestinely. Five known. Reverse from a different die than used in 1884 and has "a faint raised guide line in the field just in front of the twelve denticles to the left of UNITED." Struck on normal trade dollar planchets c.420 grains.

 

Click Here for a Registry List of the 1885 Trade Dollars

 

1885 TRADE DOLLAR: CATALOGUE VALUES

Values as given in A Guide Book of U.S. Coins 1945 (1946 prices) to date. Actual auction records are a better indication of value, but catalogue listings are of interest. No prices were listed for 1975 and 1980.

 

Year

Proof

1945

$1450

1950

1500

1955

1500

1960

4250

1965

9000

1970

9000

1975

---

1980

---

1985

110000

 

 

Year

P-63

1986

 

1987

 

1988

 

1989

 

1990

 

1991

 

1992

 

 

 

Click Here for Current Values

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS

1885

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: $0.8378

 

Dies prepared: Obverse: 1; Reverse: 1

 

Proof mintage: At least 5

 

Characteristics of striking: Parts of Miss Liberty’s head and some stars usually lightly struck.

 

Approximate population Proof-64 or better: 1 known (URS-1)

 

Approximate population Proof-60 to 63: 4 known (URS-3)

 

 

COMMENTARY: Made in limited quantities by Mint personnel and filtered into the collecting community via Capt. John W. Haseltine, a Philadelphia coin dealer who was Idler’s son-in-law. Date(s) when the coins were made unknown, but probably between January and June 1885. Not generally known to exist by the collecting fraternity until 1908.