There are few United States rarities as rare as the 1885 proof Trade dollar, a coin that saw a mintage of just five pieces. Its origins are somewhat mysterious, especially as there are no clear mint records reflecting any output of Trade dollars in 1885. The coins may have been produced either as a legal but undocumented production or perhaps coined by or for the interest of Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Archibald Louden Snowden, who left his position in mid-1885.
The 1885 Trade dollars are coveted by collectors, who are now regularly paying seven figures for the opportunity to own one. An example that was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) as a PR63+CAM has been owned by some of the hobby’s most prestigious names, including Waldo Newcomer, “Colonel” E.H.R. Green, Jerome Kern, and Kevin Lipton. It most recently belonged in the Simpson Collection before hitting the block at a Heritage Auctions event on January 20, 2021.
Attracting strong bidding from various contenders, the 1885 PCGS PR63+CAM Trade dollar hammered for $2.1 million. When this or another of these rare 1885 dollar specimens turns up next is anyone’s guess, for coins like the 1885 Trade dollar are often regarded as heirlooms that trade between generations, as this very specimen did between Amon Carter, Sr., and his son, Amon Carter, Jr.