Description and Analysis

Trade Dollars
1874 T$1 PF

Description & Analysis

Within the series of trade dollar proofs sold publicly 1873-83, the 1874 edition is among those least often seen; only the 1873 entry is more scarce. While a fair number of gems have been certified, the overall total of proofs is relatively small. Trade dollars were held in low esteem during their own time, especially after being demonetized in 1876. Worth less than their nominal face value after that time, even proofs were dumped into circulation whenever possible, accounting for the scarcity of those made before 1878.

The 700 proofs for this date were coined in recurring batches of 50 or 100 at a time, with the majority produced during the opening months of the year when collectors were ordering their annual sets. Unsold remainders were to be destroyed at the end of each calendar year, yet on January 9, 1875 some 175 proof trade dollars dated 1874 and, possibly, 1873 were released at face value. Whether any of these coins were preserved by collectors is unknown. Philadelphia-area dealers later became alert to such activity and bought all the unsold proofs they could each year, but this practice applied primarily to the minor coins.