Estimated grade. Sold by B. Max Mehl Jun '41 price realized $5.25
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):
Proof figures not certain: While monthly reports of Mint production figures (see below) for Proofs suggest a total mintage of 510, some (including Walter H. Breen and me) have questioned this figure. Based upon the number of known specimens, and the 200 made in February (before any major deliveries of business strikes), a figure or 710 seems more likely. This seems to fit in well with the analysis of the availability of Proofs discussed in the introduction to the trade dollar section. Of this number, 125 were distributed at face value, probably to coin dealers, on January 11, 1878.
However, this is conjecture. Then, the question arises as to why 710 Proofs would have been struck of the trade dollar when only 510 Proofs were reportedly struck of the dime, quarter, and half dollar. This may never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
Availability of Proofs: Proofs, though rare in the overall context of numismatics, are not among the rarities of the 1873-1883 Proof series. The specialist will be able to acquire a piece without difficulty. The widely published (and, as noted, probably erroneous) mintage figure of 510 pieces has caused these coins to sell for an undeserved premium upon occasion. On the other hand, Walter H. Breen, writing years ago in 1977, thought the 1877 Proof was rarer than even the 510 mintage indicated." For some reason, many 1877 Proofs are brilliant (and also especially deeply mirrorlike), rather than lightly toned; this is much more observable with 1877 than, for example, with 1876.
OBVERSE TYPE II, RIBBON ENDS POINT DOWN, 1876-1885
REVERSE TYPE II: NO BERRY BELOW CLAW, 1875-1885
1. Heavy date, double punched: Breen-5808.
Minute traces of double punching, particularly the 1 and 8. Only a small number of Proofs are of this variety.
2. Normal date: The variety usually seen. No Proof surface between eagle's claw and branch. (Do any have broken letters?)
Dies prepared: Obverse: At least 2; Reverse: 2
Proof mintage: 710 (or 510, according to Mint figures). Delivery figures by month: January: none; February: 400 (probably actually 600; the 200 business strikes listed in the Mint report figures quoted above were probably Proofs); March-September: none; October: 50; November: none; December: 60; 125 unsold Proofs were distributed for face value on January 11, 1878.