Q. David Bowers: The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993):
No business strikes made: As in all years 1879-1885, the only trade dollars made were Proofs. This year set a record for Proof trade dollar mintage.
Trade dollars continue their reverse flow: During 1880 trade dollars of earlier dates continued to come back to the United States, primarily through the London and other European markets.
Proof coinage sets record: The popular speculation in Proof-only trade dollars continued and peaked in March 1880, as the following delivery figures indicate: January: none; (In some years the Mint did not begin delivering Proofs until after January.)February: 488; March: 777; April: 201; May: 58; June: 50; July: 20; August: 25; September: 30; October: 27; November: 40; and December: 271. By year's end some 1,987 Proofs had left the coining press, a record for the denomination.
Availability of Proofs today: Most of the Proofs still exist, perhaps 1,300 to 1,700 of the 1,987 coined. They are readily available in various grades from Proof-60 to Proof-65 or better. Very occasionally a worn example, such as an Extremely Fine coin (technically graded Proof-40 or 45), will come on the market - a piece which was spent by some numismatist who could not wait for his investment to mature (actually, any profits went to the next generation of owners).
OBVERSE TYPE II, RIBBON ENDS POINT DOWN, 1876-1885
REVERSE TYPE II: NO BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1875-1885
1. With top of 1 in date below G of GOD. Crossbar of 4 in 420 is perfect (compare to No.2 below).
2. With top of 1 in date below GO of GOD. The reverse of some specimens has these characteristics:
No projection or right side to crossbar of 4 in 420 (but a tiny dot-like remnant is visible); lower right serif of first L in DOLLAR is flat on the top (as normal), but the second L has a rounded top (abnormal). This is the variety most often seen.
Dies prepared: Obverse: at least 2; Reverse: at least 2 Proof mintage: 1,987; Delivery figures by month:
January: none; February: 488; March: 777; April: 201; May: 58; June: 50; July: 20; August: 25; September: 30; October: 27; November: 40; December: 271.
Characteristics of striking: Usually seen with areas of lightness, particularly at the top of the obverse-the stars and the head of Miss Liberty.
The 1880 trade dollar is a Proof-only issue made for collectors. No business strikes were produced. 1880 had the highest Proof mintage of any date of the trade dollar denomination.