Estimated grade. Sold by B. Max Mehl Jun '41 price realized $315
Ron Guth: The 1884 Trade Dollar is an extremely rare coin with an estimated mintage of only 10 Proofs. The following roster of known examples shows a steady increase in prices over time.
PCGS Proof-67 (#05781400). Mehl "Dunham" 06/1941:1150:$315.00 - Stack's "Starr" sale, 10/1992:844 - Jay Parrino ("The Mint"), graded NGC Proof-66 - Goldbergs 10/2000:1784 as NGC Proof-67, $510,600 - Heritage "New York" 11/2003:8312, not sold
Proof-66. Mehl's "Atwater" sale, 06/1946:377 - B&M "Eliasberg" 04/1997:2353 (plated), $396,000
PCGS Proof-65 #03674141. Clint Hester - Numismatic Gallery "Menjou" collection, 06/1950:2040 - Stack's "Farish-Baldenhofer" 11/1955:1039 - Stack's "Fairbanks" 12/1960:698 - Stack's "Wolfson" 05/1963:1541 - Quality Sales "Carlson-Shipkey" 11/1976:426 - B&M "Arnold-Romisa" 09/1984:2342 - Stack's "French" 01/1989:201, $72,600.00, subsequently graded Proof-64 by NGC - Anthony Terranova - Larry Whitlow - Jay Parrino ("The Mint") - Superior 10/2000:3576, now upgraded to PCGS Proof-65 #05794275 (the prior chain of ownership was omitted, but the photographs match those in the "Arnold-Romisa" and "French" sales -- the coin is now white and missing any of the golden color it appeared to have had at one time), sold for $264,500.00 - Legend Numismatics – Heritage 11/2005:2281, as PCGS Proof-65 #05794275, $603,750
PCGS Proof-64 Cameo (#21520514). Ex William K. Idler - Capt. John W. Haseltine - Virgil M. Brand - Col. Edward H.R. Green - Will W. Neil - Mehl 6/1947:296 - Stack's "Pelletreau" 3/1959:1054 - NERCA 11/1975:635 - Hanks 04/1985:351 - Rarcoa "Auction 1989":327, NGC Proof-63, $77,000 - Superior "Auction 1990":1163, "NGC Proof-64", $75,000 - B&M 5/2004:328 as PCGS Proof-64 Cameo, $310,500.00 - American Numismatic Rarities 8/2006:855, not sold
NGC Proof-64. Stack's "A.N.A." 08/1976:723, part of a complete, assembled Proof set of the year - Joel Rettew - Heritage "A.N.A. Midwinter" 03/1996:6513, $50,600 as NGC Proof-63, “Obviously hairlined, the toning greatly subdues the effect of the long-ago cleaning. There are several identifying blemishes, all located on the obverse. The most obvious are a pair of vertical scratches, one short and one long, extending downward from the elbow of the outsretched arm of Liberty. Also, a tiny backward L-shaped lintmark is seen in the field just in front of the nose of Liberty - MARCG - Midwest collector – David Lawrence “Richmond II” 11/2004:1568 as NGC PR-64, $310,500
NGC Proof-63. Colonel E.H.R. Green Estate - B.G. Johnson - James Kelly, June 24, 1944, sold for $375.00 - Frank Sprinkle - Stack's "Sprinkle" 06/1988:106, “Light hairlines and a granular stripe on the reverse from CA to the rim right of DOLLAR where heavy patination was chemically removed in the past Rich light gold and russet toning, and the devices quite frosty and the fields still well mirrored”, $61,600 – Larry Whitlow - Early American 10/1988:461 as PCGS PR-61, “Also noted is a glue-like substance…on the rim edge above the word OF” - Rarcoa "Auction 1990":845, $42,000 - Mark Chrans - Stack's "ANA" 03/2002:795, illustrated, called "Brilliant Proof or slightly finer", with no mention made of the PCGS certification and grade - B&M "Rarities" 01/2003:569, plated, as NGC Proof-63, $138,000.00.
Proof. Waldo Newcomer - Morgenthau 384th sale, 05/1935:431 - Colonel E.H.R. Green collection - Mehl "Roe" sale, 06/1945:627 - Mehl's "Kern" sale, 05/1950:896 - Stack's "Carter" sale, 01/1984:440. In the catalog for the Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale" (January 2003), this coin is listed as being Proof-64.
PCGS Proof-63 (#14279405). King Farouk of Egypt - Sotheby's "Palace Collection" sale, 02/1954:1679 - B&M "Norweb" 03/1988:1847, "420.8 grains..." - American Coin Portfolios - private New York collection - Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc. by private treaty, March 20, 1992 - private New England collection, private treaty, March 23, 1992 - Heritage 04/2002:4131, PCGS Proof-63, $138,000.00 - private Nevada collection
Proof-60, cleaned and hairlined. Mehl "Olsen" 11/1944:997 - Stack's "Ewalt" 11/1965:42 - Stack's "Emmons" 09/1969:814 - Ivy "A.N.A. Convention" 08/1980:2643, sold for $30,000 - Rarcoa "Auction 1984":1809, $27,500 - Fred L. Fredericks - Superior "Hoffecker" 02/1987:1446A, $26,400 - Superior "Worrell" 09/1993, Lot 1324, "Proof-60, cleaned and hairlined...since the Hoffecker sale the coin was dipped and now appears without toning." - Goldbergs 02/2000:1470.
Proof. Rarcoa - World-Wide - Steve Ivy - Robert Marks collection - B&R "Rare Coin Review" No. 15, 1972 - B&R "Herstal" 02/1974:734 - Donald Apte and Mulford B. Simons - private Southern collection.
The 1884 Trade Dollar in Stack's "Anderson-Dupont" 11/1954:2652 (pictured there) was a silver-plated copper example (Judd 1732).
There are 2 known in copper (J1732/P1943), both now silver-plated, one of which last sold in the Hughes 7/80 sale, the other was given to the Smithsonian acc# 1979.0979.0001.
The Mitchelson collection in the Connecticut State Library also has an example with a staple scratch running across the obverse. Whether this is a regular Proof or a silver-plated copper version has not been determined.
There are no official records of any 1884 Trade Dollars having been produced, although the existence of the coins proves otherwise. Numismatic legend has it that 10 examples were produced, but the sources of this information are suspect and there may actually be more.
Attempting to reconcile the roster above with the information from the grading services is impossible because of resubmissions and grade inflation. As time goes by, we will make every effort to obtain color photographs of as many different examples as possible.
The following article "The 1884 Trade Dollar: A Little History. Was it a Mint 'Deal'" by Farran Zerbe, appeared in the November 1909 issue of The Numismatist:
Seven of the ten Trade dollars known to have been struck dated 1884 were sold by one dealer within a few months at prices ranging from $150 to $400.
The Trade dollar, which for all time will be remembered as one of Uncle Sam's very few repudiated obligations, had nothing associated with its coinage to make it of particular interest to the numismatist until a few months ago when specimens dated 1884 came on the market, and the not previously known date of this coin has since caused it to be a discussion of considerable interest.
As to why Trade dollars were coined in 1884 and not entered in the reports of the mint there is no explanation. That ten pieces, and ten only, were struck is now an accepted fact. That their existences was surrounded with mystery and guarded as a secret for almost twenty-five years, is but one other of the gradually coming to light unexplainable from the old money mill that stood on Chestnut street, in Philadelphia. Of the ten specimens recorded as struck, two of them have not been located; of the other eight specimens, Mr. A.M. Smith has selfishly guarded one for many years; another collector, unnamed, did likewise, and six were the property of one man. Not many months ago these six came into the possession of Captain John W. Haseltine, and then, for the first time, it was a published fact, with the coin in evidence, that 1884 Trade dollars existed.
When Capt. Haseltine first offered these coins for sale he did not anticipate fancy prices; in fact, the first one he offered was to a prominent dealer, who refused to pay $40 for it. Publicity did its part in creating the collector's appetite, and before one was sold the price soared to $150 and the record is now $400. After disposing of the lot of six, the one held by the unnamed collector was recently obtained by Capt. Haseltine and sold at the record price. One of the first ones sold later appeared in one of Mr. Ben G. Green's auction sales and brought $280.
That the first one was refused by a dealer for $40 shows how even the expert may be deceived in the price commanding quality of certain specimens. The seven specimens sold by Captain Haseltine were distributed among three collectors.
That the issue of Trade dollars in 1884 was hinted at and doubted is shown by the following, written by the late Ed. Frossard, a numismatic expert and authority of his day, and published in his journal - Numismat, March, 1884:
"Our critic of the Sandham sale recently, almost openly, insinuated that Trade Dollars have been quietly manufactured at the Mint during the present year; in other words, that notwithstanding the positive assertions of the Mint authorities to the contrary, a Trade Dollar with the date 1884 does exist.
"We hold that the plain but positive statement of the Mint officers on this point should be considered conclusive evidence, and they say that no Trade Dollars have been issued in the Philadelphia Mint, nor in any Mint of the United States during the present year, or dated 1884.
"But as doubts on this point may still exist in the minds of those who heard the report, we are authorized to make the following offers: $100 cash each for any number of United States Trade Dollars of 1884, coined at the Philadelphia or other U.S. Mint; $25 cash down to any one who will show us such a dollar.
"It is time that absurd and untruthful if not slanderous statements about so-called 'deals' at the National Mint should cease. The present management has proved itself most honorable, impartial and just, and no one has unusual facilities to obtain pattern pieces and proof sets, all collectors in this respect being treated alike, i.e., what is obtainable by one at the Mint is obtainable by all.
"It is true that certain dealers and collectors have lobbying friends in Washington, men who hang about the Coinage and Finance Committee rooms, also the Treasury department. These men are at times enable to secure pieces not issued to collectors at the Mint, but with this the Mint officers have nothing to do. They are required by law to furnish the Coinage Committee of Congress a certain number of specimens of the pattern pieces, assays [sic], and regular coinage of each year; what Congressman do with these is none of their concern. They are no more responsible for the action of these men than for the laws they frame.
"A careful study of the subject led us long ago to the belief that all trumped up charges of favoritism in the distribution of pattern pieces made against the present Mint officers, were either purely malicious, or arose from a total ignorance of the duties of these officers and of the rights and privileges enjoyed by the legislative bodies at Washington."
In the light of late developments this is somewhat amusing to read. There must have been so-called 'deals' at the mint.
The Trade dollar was first issued in 1873, and there was a large coinage at the Philadelphia, Carson City and San Francisco mints each year to 1878, inclusive, excepting that but 900 were coined (proofs) in Philadelphia in 1878. With the introduction of the "Bland" [Morgan] dollar in 1878, the coinage of Trade dollars for circulation was discontinued, but they continued to be coined, about 1000 each year, in proof, at the Philadelphia mint only, up to 1883 inclusive.
The Trade dollar was not intended for circulation in this country, its primary purpose being to compete with the Mexican dollar in trade with the Orient, and for such purpose it was made to contain 420 grains of silver, while the regular dollar, distinguished as "standard," contains but 412 ½ grains of silver. During the years that Trade dollars were numerously coined, coinage of "standard" silver dollars, which had for years previous been limited, was suspended. In so far as hard money entered into domestic trade during these years when specie payments were suspended the Trade dollar was a factor and with the resumption of specie payments in 1879 it entered general circulation. And when a few years later Uncle Sam saw fit to set a time when they would cease to be current and only worth their value for old silver, he repudiated a contract which he had and continues to have with the holder of every one. The government received one hundred cents for every one they ever issued, and notwithstanding they contain more silver than the "standard" dollar, their value is simply that of old silver, now about 45 cents. About 36,000,000 pieces were coined. A few years ago it was said the Japanese treasury had several million of them which came by way of trade during the years when the price of silver made them a good purchase for bullion purposes. The Trade dollar was authorized by the Act of February 12, 1873, and while this act was not repealed until February 19, 1887, none was known to have been coined after 1883 until the 1884's recently came to light. F.Z."
Sources and/or recommended reading:
"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen
"The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr." sale conducted by Auctions by Bowers and Merena, Inc., April 6-8, 1997, Lot 2353
"The Anderson-Dupont" sale conducted by Stack's, November 11-13, 1954, Lot 2652
e-mail correspondence from Saul Teichman, August 15, 2000
e-mail correspondence from Q. David Bowers, August 15, 2000
The "Pre-Long Beach Sale" conducted by Superior Galleries, October 1-3, 2000, Lot 3576 (contains some typographical errors in the transcription of the pedigree listings from Stack's "Floyd T. Starr" sale)
Telephone conversation with Jeff Garrett of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Inc. on September 18, 2000
William Idler - Capt. John W. Haseltine and Steven K. Nagy - William Forrester Dunham, who sold his collection intact to B. Max Mehl in 1939 - William Forrester Dunham Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1941:1150:$315 - Floyd Starr Collection - Stack's 10/1992:844, $176,000 - Jay Parrino ("The Mint") - Goldbergs 10/2000:1784, bought back at $510,600 - Jay Parrino - Heritage 11/2003:8312, not sold - Jay Parrino
William K. Idler - Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy - Clinton Hester - Adolphe Menjou Collection - Numismatic Gallery 6/1950:2040, $765 - Benjamin Stack (Imperial Coin Co.) - W.G. Baldenhofer Collection - Stack's “Farish-Baldenhofer” 11/1955:1039, $2,200 - Ben Koenig - Stack's 12/1960:698, $6,500 - Samuel Wolfson Collection - Stack's 5/1963:1541, $8,750 - Dan Messer - Jack Klausen and Joel Rettew - Quality Sales Corporation “Carlson-Shipkey” 11/1976:426, $52,500 - Danny Arnold Collection - Bowers & Merena 9/1984:2342, $37,400 - John N. Rowe, III - L.R. French, Jr. - Stack's 1/1989:201, $72,600 - Anthony Terranova - Larry Whitlow - Denver Coin Company - Jay Parrino (The Mint) - Superior 10/2000:3576, $264,500 (the prior chain of ownership was omitted, but the photographs match those in the "Arnold-Romisa" and "French" sales -- the coin is now white and missing any of the golden color it appeared to have had at one time) - Legend Collection - Jack Lee Estate - Heritage 11/2005:2281, $603,750 - John Albanese - Heritage 1/2014:5311, $998,750
William K. Idler - Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy - H.O. Granberg Collection, exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition as part of a full set of Trade dollars - B. Max Mehl 7/1919:128, $260 - Virgil Brand Collection (Brand Journal number 92357) - Armin Brand (sold 9/1/1942) - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2353, $396,000 Spectrum Numismatics - Legend Collection - anonymous collection.
Some previous pedigrees attribute the Eliasberg coin to the Atwater Collection, but this is incorrect. Will W. Neil purchased the Atwater coin per B. Max Mehl’s catalog of the Neil Collection.
William K. Idler - Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy - Waldo Newcomer Collection (inventory #1369, cost shown as $350) - B. Max Mehl, who purchased the bulk of the Newcomer Collection in 1931 - J.C. Morgenthau 384th sale 5/1935:431, $350 - Colonel E.H.R. Green collection - Burdette G. Johnson - Jack V. Roe Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1945:627, $665 - B. Max Mehl 5/1950:896, $760 - Amon G. Carter, Sr. Collection - Amon G. Carter, Jr. Collection - Stack's 1/1984:440, $45,100
In the catalog for the Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale" (January 2003), this coin is listed as being Proof-64.
William K. Idler - Capt. John W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy - King Farouk of Egypt - Sotheby's "Palace Collection" 2/1954:1679, $936.81 - Norweb Collection - Bowers & Merena 3/1/1988:1847, $57,200 - American Coin Portfolios - Q. David Bowers Collection, purchased 3/1992 - Summit Rare Coins - Morris Silverman Collection - Heritage 4/2002:4131, $138,000 - U.S. Coins