The Quest For The Perfect Trade

Written by tradedollarnut
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I started on the Legend Collection in 1995. I'd been away from coin collecting for a few years but was actively thinking about returning. I happened to see an MS63 1875 S/CC trade dollar advertised by Legend Numismatics in an issue of Coin World that I'd picked up at a local coin store.

Trade dollars had always been one of my favorite series, ever since my Great Grandmother had given me a circulated 1877S that she'd kept in her teapot on the kitchen shelf. I remembered the S/CC as being a very rare coin that hardly ever came available and the price seemed quite reasonable for a PCGS certified coin. I called and asked if I could see it on approval and ended up purchasing the coin. Shortly thereafter, I purchased an 1873CC in PCGS MS63 that happened to come on the market.

I was now at a crossroads on only my second coin - to create a matched set of MS63 coins or go for the finest available (which is what the 73CC happened to be at that time). The event that tipped the balance was the only (at that time) PCGS MS68 trade dollar coming up for auction. Heritage allowed me to view the coin prior to the auction and I fell head over heels! What an amazing coin! I offered $100,000 on the spot, but was told it had to go through the auction process. I was on pins and needles until I received the call from Legend informing me that we'd bought the coin. Of course, the final price ended up being in the range of $130,000 but at this point I was hooked - the goal was now to build the finest collection of mint state trade dollars ever! Over the next five years, we completed the set with high quality coins and slowly replaced lovely examples with even better coins that were finest or tied for finest known.

I believe the goal has been accomplished, though I am always looking for that upgrade coin that comes available. In recent years we've added the Amon Carter 74CC, the Vermeule 73CC and several others. There are a few more out there that I know of, and there's always the chance of a new discovery coin coming along!

PCGS03674142 PCGS71041720
PCGS03674145 PCGS03668224
PCGS03674146 PCGS02864243




A great story about my 1875 PCGS03674149  
Marc Emory's Special Coin


Professional numismatist Marc Emory related the following concerning an especially nice 1875 trade dollar:

"As far as trade dollars go, there is a rather famous one I have handled (you did, too at one time), whose pedigree sounds like an old coin dealer's tall tale: In early February 1975, I was still living in Philadelphia after graduating from college the year before. Early one morning, Bob Riethe, who had a coin shop out in Plymouth Meeting Mall. called me up to crow about the finest trade dollar he had ever seen. He said he had just bought it from Alan Woglom in halfont, Pennsylvania for $600-no small sum at the time. He also said it was an 1875 Philadelphia Mint coin. I said to cut out the nonsense, and to tell me what it was he really wanted to talk to me about. He swore it was no joke, so I drove out there swearing plagues upon his house if this was an early April Fool. Furthermore, he owed me $1.240 at the time.

"I arrived at his shop, wading through the snow and slush of the parking lot, and came to his counter in a mood which can politely be described as less than jovial. To boot. he kept me waiting for ten minutes to explain to someone why
common silver dollars were common, and that he couldn't pay $20 for 1922 Peace dollars in VF grade. Finally, he pulled out the coin in question. All was forgiven-provided he realized I wasn't going to leave his shop without the coin. The 1875 trade dollar he showed me was (and remains today) one ol the most exquisite U.S. silver coins I have ever seen. l linally badgered him into letting me have it in lieu of all the money he owed me. I sold it (I wasn't too llush those days), to my great regret, to Maurice Rosen lor $1.900. Maurice worked for First Coinvestors at that time. Maurice left FCI soon after that, and the coin soon appeared in one ol their Pine Tree auctions. It was bought by Numismatic Associates of Ashland, Mass. for $3000+ and sold to A.H. Lamborn. His collection was sold (here's where you come in) as the "Fairiield Collection" by your lirm in 1977. The coin brought in excess of$7.000 this time.

"I lost track of it after that, as I was spending most ol my time overseas by now. I did see it appear later in an ad by Jack Hertzberg, enclosed in a PCGS holder and graded a conservative MS-68. Where it is now, I don't know, but someone should be happy with it. To this day it remains one of the two favorite silver coins I ever owned (the other was an 1855-S half dollar that went into James Pryor's collection).

PCGS03674150 PCGS03674152




PCGS03674154 PCGS03674155
PCGS05150000 PCGS03674157


My 1878-S PCGS03674160


The following mini-hoard of 1878-S Trade Dollars is one of the many highlights offered in the 1990 ANA Sale. The story behind their discovery and inclusion in this sale is incredible. The consignor, (who we will call "Jim") one of the nicest and most pleasant people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, had elderly next door neighbors that he was very close to. He would help and befriend them whenever the opportunity arose. Little did "Jim" know what was in store.

Upon the death of the elderly couple, "Jim" was named executor of the estate - what little there seemed to be - and two requests were made: all financial instruments were to be left to a local university and all personal property would go to the executor. "Jim" went to the bank and opened the safe deposit box. Not expecting to see a great deal, he was taken back by the wealth before his eyes. The wealth however appeared to be all financial and thus left to the university.
Among the tens of thousands of dollars in stocks and bonds there was also over $1 million in bearer bonds. Upon removal of all the papers. on the bottom of the drawer, just lying loose, were 25 1878-S Trade Dollars! As wonderful as this seemed, there was a dilemma. Were the coins "financial " and thus property of the university, or were they personal and thus the property of "Jim." After long discussions with the attorneys, it was decided that the coins would be divided equally - with 13 coins going to the university and the remaining 12 coins to "Jim."

The university immediately sold their coins to a local coin dealer. This dealer in turn sold them to a major west coast firm who submitted them to PCGS who in turn graded them mostly MS-65, with a few MS-64's and (2) MS-66. Point of fact every known 1878-S Trade Dollar grading MS-65 or higher (at the time of this writing) can be traced back to this hoard of 25 coins. The only exception being the lone MS-67, which. as justice would have it, is also included in this incredible sale!