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1875 Trade $1 a case of missing mintage

Item0701-a.jpgFinding a better than average Trade dollar is not an easy thing, especially in top grades. It may not be as good as the lower-mintage 1873-CC or 1878-CC, but the 1875 should be high on any Trade dollar list.

It?s low 218,900 mintage was somewhat surprising since 1875 was just past the heyday of the Trade dollar. By then significant numbers of Trade dollars had time to make their way to China. While the reports were all optimistic, the Trade dollar was actually met with mixed results.

In about 1876 Congress decided to revoke the coin?s legal tender status and consider it just 420 grains of .900 fine silver. It was an odd decision, since the coin clearly says ?dollar.? The silver price was trending downward, which meant the Trade dollar was worth less and less. At some point, banks were only accepting them at 75 cents. Accepting them as a dollar meant losing money regularly, and that would have spelled the end of the Trade dollar. In fact, the government had to redeem and destroy millions of them.

The matter of destruction looms large for the 1875. In fact, melted redeemed Trade dollars became 1891-O Morgan dollars.

The 1875 could have been lost in other ways as well. It could have been shipped to China and not returned. That happened to millions of Trade dollars since that was really the whole idea behind the coin. Also, some Trade dollars shipped to China returned with chop marks, and the government would not redeem them. There are a few 1875 coins with chops.

Item0701-b.jpgSince the 1875 is not available in any numbers, the real question is what happened to the remaining 218,900 mintage.

In fairness, we can?t totally rely on grading service numbers since Trade dollars are not likely to be graded, especially in lower grades. Even so, at present the date least submitted is the 1875. That?s right, less than the 97,000 mintage 1878-CC or the 124,500 mintage 1873-CC. That may help to explain why it is at $160 in G-4.

In Mint State, the Carson City grades run higher than any others, but at $2,450 in MS-60, the 1875 ranks as the only date other than Carson City dates above $2,000 in MS-60.

In MS-65 the Carson City dates become basically impossible, and the 1875 lists well behind them at $13,000. Even so, it is not common. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports nine examples in MS-65, two in MS-66 and one in MS-67. The Professional Coin Grading Service total in MS-65 is at just one, with another in MS-66 and still another in MS-68. Combined, that still puts the two grading services at less than 20 examples in MS-65 or better. That is a total well below other coins with much higher MS-65 prices.

To reach higher prices, however, the 1875 would have to have to see more demand. That may or may not happen, but regardless, the 1875 holds its own among some very tough dates.

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