The History of U.S. Trade Dollars

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

In the late 1800’s many countries were minting large silver coins for trade in the emerging markets of China and the Orient. The United States was no different in this respect. The US Trade Dollar was our response. The trade dollar was minted between 1873 and 1885 and it was partly minted due to an increased amount of gold in circulation worldwide. Gold overflowed the normal market channels, which decreased gold’s value and increased the value of silver. The large majority of the coins minted were exported to China where they were assayed by Chinese officials and accepted into circulation and helped to further facilitate trade with China and the Orient in general. The US Trade Dollar was of the approximately same weight and fineness of the Spanish Dollar, which had become the de facto standard for common currency for trade in the far east. The US Trade Dollar was designed by William Barber. The Obverse depicts a seated, left-facing lady liberty holding an olive branch looking out upon the sea. The reverse portrays a bald eagle holding both an olive branch and a set of arrows in its grasp. While meant to be traded in China, a fair amount of US Trade Dollars made their way into US markets, and the silver market had been effected in such a way that Congress passed a bill that demonetized the US Trade Dollar in the United States in 1876. Despite the passage of the bill, bullion producers continued placing orders for the coin for the value of the silver bullion contained within. Ironically, by law at the time, the only silver coins that were allowed to be minted were those same Trade Dollars that had been demonetized by Congress. The US Trade Dollar stayed demonetized for nearly a century until the Coinage Act of 1965 made them legal tender again. But, at that point, the numismatic value of the coins far outweighed their face value. Certified Coin Consultants of Rockville Centre is delighted to buy, trade, and sell US Trade Dollars. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, you can be assured that you will be dealing with the most knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful representatives in the world of numismatics. So, call, email, reach out on social media, or visit Certified Coin Consultants to start or add some NGC, PCGS, and CAC certified US Trade Dollars to your collection today!

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