If you had been handed a Trade dollar back in 1877, you might have been unsure how to handle it as it just had had its legal-tender status revoked. Some were saying they were silver dollars and worth as much while others correctly said they were worth their silver value. At the time, their silver value was declining to where they were worth less than a dollar.
Everyone in numismatics seems uncertain what to do with Trade dollars. Price guides sometimes have them before Morgan dollars and other times have them in back of all silver dollars.
The 1876-CC mintage was average with 509,000 struck. In 1876, many Trade dollars were shipped to ports of China for commerce. If that happened, the 1876-CC handed to a merchant in China might never return to the United States. If returned it would do so with chops of acceptance from a Chinese merchant. It is possible some coins returned to the United States without chops and joined those released in circulation.
The other possibility is some Trade dollars did not leave the country. It was not supposed to work that way, though millions of Trade dollars ended up circulating and causing trouble in the United States. Eventually, the government redeemed those coins but only if they were not damaged. If they had chops from China they could not be redeemed. The government redeemed millions and those were lost forever along with those kept in China, meaning the mintage totals are not good indications of how many Trade dollars of each date exist.
In the case of the 1876-CC, the mintage indicates an average date and that is how the 1876-CC is priced with a G-4 listing for $225. That price is slightly better, being about twice the price of the most available dates. It shows some increase since 1998 when the 1876-CC in G-4 was $110.
It is Mint State where the 1876-CC is tough. There was little saving by collectors of 1876-CC Mint State Trade dollars.
Back in 1998, an MS-60 1876-CC listed for $900 and today that price is $6,500, which is a major price increase in that grade. In MS-65, the 1876-CC was at $70,000 back in 1998 and today that price has dropped to $64,000. That price is still very expensive for a Trade dollar date the mintage suggests is average.
There are a few more 1876-CC Trade dollars seen at the grading services than the key dates like the 1873-CC, 1875 or 1878-CC, but not many. If you combined the totals from NGC and PCGS the 1876-CC has been seen a couple dozen times more than the most difficult date.
When it comes to finding an MS-65 example, your work is cut out for you as just one is currently known, certified by PCGS. The numbers do not improve if you include the small numbers of doubled dies seen. That makes the one MS-65 coin the finest known 1876-CC and a true steal at the current price.
Though there is not much demand for the 1876-CC, with only one example known to exist that still looks good. It may be that another coin or two in MS-65 will be graded. For now the person holding that MS-65 1876-CC has to feel pretty good as does anyone who owns a nice example of a very underrated date.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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