Coin Specifications

Category: Trade Dollars (1873-1885)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 700
Catalog: KM-108
Obverse Designer: William Barber
Reverse Designer: William Barber
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 27.2200g
ASW: 0.7876oz
Melt Value: $12.66 (12/28/2014)
Diameter: 38.1mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1874 T$1 PF obverse 1874 T$1 PF reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

In a letter dated November 18, 1858, Superintendent of the San Francisco Mint Charles H. Hempstead wrote to Mint Director James Ross Snowden in Philadelphia the following: 'We are now attracting to our shores large quantities of silver, in bars, from Mexico, for which we pay in silver coins. By reference to your letter from the fourth of August last, I find that you say that single 'silver deposits may be received, but they are only payable in silver dollars or in fine silver bars.' We have never received any dies for silver dollars, nor am I aware of the reason why this branch has never made that denomination of coin. I would, therefore, suggest that the coinage of silver dollars (if it be not contrary to the policy of government) would relieve us just one-half of the labor now necessary in the coinage of large quantities of Mexican silver.' A few months later, Snowden sent a reply that stated: 'As the facts stated by you indicate the propriety of coinage of silver dollars at your branch of the mint, I have caused four pairs of dies of that denomination to be prepared to you per express. A weight for the adjustment of the coin (from which others can be made) will be found in the box containing the dies.' From this simple exchange of correspondence, the United States Trade dollar was born.

Even though numismatists use the title 'Trade dollar' to refer to William Barber's design of 1873-1885, the 1859-S Liberty Seated dollar is actually the first silver dollar that the United States coined for express export to the Far East. Although it represented a significant step in the nation's coinage history, the 1859-S delivery was isolated by the political trauma of the Civil War and Reconstruction that would dominate the better part of the next three decades. It was, nonetheless, an event before the outbreak of war that would ensure the continued flow of silver dollars from the coinage presses of the United States to the markets of the Orient.

In 1859, while the San Francisco Mint was busy striking its first 20,000 silver dollars, the Comstock Lode was discovered in Nevada. The vast quantities of silver that poured from the ground presented a curious problem for the United States in the decades immediately following Appomattox Courthouse. As the price of silver fell relative to gold throughout the 1860s, it became increasingly more difficult for Uncle Sam to export his surplus of the precious metal. In 1871, the situation went from bad to worse when the newly formed German Reich adopted a gold standard and flooded European markets with its unwanted silver. With this avenue of export effectively closed, the United States government had little choice but to look east toward China as the market for its excess silver. Even though some American silver continued to reach the Orient in the form of ingots, Spanish and Mexican dollars remained the preferred method of exchange among Chinese merchants throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s. Clearly, the United States needed a silver dollar of sufficient size in order to compete with its Latin American counterparts.

The Coinage Law of 1873 marked the birth of the official Trade dollar. Whereas the 1859-S Liberty Seated dollar conformed to the 1837 weight standard of 412.5 grains, the lawmakers fixed the Trade dollar's weight at 420 grains in order to ensure its effectiveness against the competition. Despite great expectations, the entire concept proved a disaster. Chinese merchants still shunned the American coins in favor of issues from Latin America and, to complicate matters, Japan stiffened the competition by introducing its own Trade dollars. While many of the Trade dollars that were melted overseas undoubtedly helped to offload some of the United States' unwanted silver, they proved unable to stop the ore's continuing decline in value. As unwanted Trade dollars were simply building up within the United States' borders, the Treasury Department finally halted business strike production on February 22, 1878, although proof specimens would continue to flow from the Philadelphia Mint through 1885. The government redeemed about 7.7 million of the extant business strikes starting in 1887, although numerous pieces continued to circulate well into the 20th century.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 12/10/2014

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1874 T$1 PF
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - 1300 1450 1750 2150 2550 3550 4700 12500 26000 38000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1874 T$1 PF Cameo
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - - - 2200 2400 3100 4000 5500 18000 - 65000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - 6500 - - - -
1874 T$1 PF Ultra Cameo
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6250 12650 30000 - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 201
Low Grade: 55
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
1/12/2015 PF 66   Heritage Auctions 2015 January 7 - 12 FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Session(3), 1216/Lot# 5406


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
3/12/1993 NGC PF 65   Heritage Auctions 1993 Early Spring ANA Bullet Sale #101, 101/Lot# 543 $6,050.00
9/10/2006 NGC PF 64   Cameo Goldberg September 10-13, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 37/Lot# 2837 $22,826.00
12/11/2011 NGC PF 62   Teletrade Auction 3187, 3187/Lot# 4509 $2,012.50
10/17/2012 NGC PF 63   Cameo Stack's Bowers The November 2012 Baltimore Auction - US and World Lots - Live and Internet Only Sessions, 144/Lot# 2448 $2,820.00
2/7/2013 PCGS PF 63   Ultra Cameo Heritage Auctions 2013 February 7 -8 & 10 US Coin Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(1), 1182/Lot# 3630 $4,993.75
4/21/2013 PCGS PF 62   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 04/21/2013, 71/Lot# 111497 $2,255.00
8/18/2013 PCGS PF 61   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 765, 774/Lot# 63 $1,811.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1874 T$1 PF
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base33333333721101013451531167819852385311344995466669987021111842871
333333324281711211407158017802118262735754821587773669507217020
00000032428171121140715801780211826273575482158777366950700
000000348191312331469162918822251287040375143628880341031200
1874 T$1 PF Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base33333333838116015311736189622332668345749495515695290091148544821
333333328194512831599178920082378293139545137599476379834225970
00000032819451283159917892008237829313954513759947637983400
0000003559105214071667184221202523319444515326647383231065900
1874 T$1 PF Ultra Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base333333331041141818472082226626483140402856916317762398201245449749
33333333491166156119252143239328123436458258996752835510698248850
0000003349116615611925214323932812343645825899675283551069800
0000003695129217042003220425202976373251366108718790871157600
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: PF 67 CA
Points: 6952
Owner: SLUGGO
 
Grade: PF 64 CAMEO
Points: 5133
Owner: yosi
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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