Coin Specifications

Category: Trade Dollars (1873-1885)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 700
Obverse Designer: William Barber
Reverse Designer: William Barber
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 27.2200g
ASW: 0.7876oz
Melt Value: $17.97 (11/27/2020)
Diameter: 38.1mm
Edge: Reeded
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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: 6/18/2019

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

1874 T$1 PF
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - 1400 1500 1850 2000 2400 3500 4100 11000 19500 35000 - - -
1874 T$1 PF CA
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - - 2150 2400 2800 3700 4950 15000 - 65000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - 5250 - - - -
1874 T$1 PF UC
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10750 - - - - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 209
Low Grade: 55
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67

The chart showing 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series, 67 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 11/24/2020 1874 T$1 PF
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---------145132233441672---147
--------------1-------1
-----------------------
-----------------------
Total---------145132234441672---148
 ---------1%3%3%9%15%23%30%11%5%1%--- 
1874 T$1 PF CA
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base-----------47515161111---60
-----------------------
---------------2------2
-----------------------
Total-----------47515181111---62
 -----------6%11%8%24%29%18%2%2%--- 
1874 T$1 PF UC
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---------------2------2
-----------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
Total---------------2------2
 ---------------100%------ 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1874 T$1 PF CA
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base633655680705729756783811838116015311736189622332668345749495515695290091148544821
640663688713738765792820945128415991789200823782931395451385994763898342259747062
0000007928209451284159917892008237829313954513859947638983400
000000802829105314071668184321212523319444525326647383231066000
1874 T$1 PF UC
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base79682485388291394397510071041141818472082226626483140402856916317762398201245449749
805834863892923954986101811671561192521432393281234364582590067528355106982488652236
0000009861018116715611925214323932812343645825900675283551069800
0000009961030129217042004220525212976373251376108718890881157600
1874 T$1 PF
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base539558579602624648672697721101013451531167819852385311344995466669987021111842871
545565587609632656680705817112214071580178021182628357548215877736795072170245015
0000006807058171122140715801780211826283575482158777367950700
00000068971391412331469162918832252287040375144628880341031300
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: PF 67
Points: 6699
Owner: NW Collections
 
Grade: PF 66 CAMEO
Points: 5515
Owner: NW Collections
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.