We were recently asked to identify an unusual coin, which on first glance appeared to be a US Trade Dollar from 1885. However, once we started researching this coin, it became obvious that it must have been a fake.
Here’s why a genuine 1885 Trade Dollar would be impossible to find…
One of the rarest coins on the planet
Earlier this year, the finest known 1885 Trade Dollar was sold for an eye watering $3.9 million at Heritage Auctions! Whilst this US coin may not be familiar to UK Change Checkers, it is incredibly rare – perhaps one of the rarest coins on the planet.
The US Trade Dollar was designed by William Barber and features Lady Liberty seated on a pedestal of merchandise, facing across the sea and holding an olive branch. On the reverse an eagle holds branches ladon with berries within its talons – an iconic American image. This design remained unchanged besides minor modifications up until the last coin of the series was struck.
Creation of the Trade Dollar
Made from .900 Silver, these coins were struck primarily for trade with Asia and were competing against the other large silver trade coins which had already become popular in the East.
The 1873 Coinage Act made these coins legal tender for payments up to five dollars and many made their way into American commercial channels, despite the majority being sent to Asia.
As their distribution across America became more widespread and the price of silver fell the coins were demonetised, although many 1873 – 1883 Trade Dollars can still be found on the secondary market today and are often sought-after by US collectors.
The greatest numismatic mystery…
In 1878, production of circulation strikes officially stopped. The Philadelphia Mint continued to strike Trade Dollars after this, however the coins were only issued in proof quality for numismatic purposes.
It was initially believed that the final year of production was 1883, however over two decades later, 1884 and 1885 dated Trade Dollars created a sensation when they appeared on the secondary market.
Incredibly, just 10 1884 proof quality Trade Dollars were struck and more astonishing still is that only 5 of these coins were struck in 1885!
Imagine how exciting it would have been to first find out about these secret coins, and how desperate American collectors must have been to get their hands on one!
Lack of documentation means the origins behind their creation still remains one of the greatest numismatic mysteries… It’s actually thought that employees from the Philadelphia Mint secretively struck the coins after production was halted.
Sold for $3.9 million!
All 5 coins from 1885 are now accounted for and are owned in private collections, meaning the public rarely get the chance to see these coins exhibited.
A few of the 1885 Trade Dollars have sold at private auction, reaching phenomenal prices.
One of the finest specimens from the Eliasberg Collection appeared at Heritage Auctions this year and sold for $3.9 million!
President of Heritage Auctions, Greg Rohan said, “Owning the finest-known [1885 Trade Dollar] specimen is to own an enduring symbol of numismatic and American history.”
So, whilst the 1885 Trade Dollar would be an exceptional coin for any collector to come across, as all 5 1885 Trade Dollars are accounted for, the only explanation for the coin we were asked to look at is that unfortunately it must have been a fake.
It really would be amazing to be able to own a coin as rare as this though! What would you do if you came across such a unique coin in your change?
There are so many fascinating stories about different coins from all around the world and if you have a story about a rare or unusual coin, we’d love to hear it!
Discover the coins USA Change Checkers are collecting!
The famous mints in the United States of America, such as in Denver and Philadelphia, have hundreds of years of history producing some of the most collected and sought-after coins in the world, and with this USA coinage pack you can secure a piece of US history.
Held today at Spink and Son Ltd in London, the Jane Austen Polymer £10 note charity auction raised a fantastic £260,900!
Proceeds from the sale will be donated to three charities: Candelighters, Haven House Children’s Hospice and Macmillan Cancer support.
Which notes sold for the most money?
The lowest serial numbered note, AA01 000010 sold for a huge £7,200, over double the guide price!
In comparison, the lowest polymer £5 note AA01 000017 sold for £4,150 at last year’s auction.
Other notes that fetched a handsome sum were AA01 000011 and AA01 000014, selling for £5,200 and £3,500 respectively.
The lot that sold for the most was a sheet of 54 consecutively numbered £10 notes, fetching an incredible £13,500.
Finally, consecutive notes AA01 000999/001000 sold for £4,800.
Such was the popularity of this auction, every one of the 122 lots sold for more that the guide price, in many cases double.
Did any Change Checkers manage to win a note at the charity auction? If so, we’d love to hear.
On the day the new Polymer £10 note was released, we published a blog detailing which of the new Polymer Jane Austen £10 notes you should all be looking out for.
We predicted that notes which feature key Jane Austen dates, such as the year of her birth and death, will prove to be very popular with collectors…and it seems that we were right!
A Polymer £10 note with serial number AH17 75 (the year of Jane Austen’s birth) has sold on eBay for a whopping £3,600 – 360 times face value!
As expected, notes whose serial number starts with AA (the first off the press) are also proving very popular; AA01 notes have sold for between £40-£70 on the auction site.
AK47 notes are also catching the eye of collectors with these selling for between £20 – £40.
Bank of England Charity Auction
On the 6th October, Spink and Son auctioneers will be selling some of the very lowest serial numbered Polymer £10 notes on behalf of the Bank of England. All money raised from the sale will be donated to three charities: Candleighters, Haven House Children’s Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.
In total they are 137 lots with the lowest serial numbered note AA01 000010 estimated to fetch between £2,000 – £3,000. The highest serial number in the auction is AA01 002016 which is expected to be sold for between £200 – £300.
There is also a sheet of 54 £10 notes available to bid on and this could reach between £4,500 -£6,500!