The first trade dollars were struck in 1873, and the majority of the coins were sent to China. Eventually, bullion producers began converting large amounts of silver into trade dollars, causing the coins to make their way into American commercial channels. In response to their wide distribution in American commerce, the coins were officially demonetized in 1876, but continued to circulate. Production of business strikes ended in 1878, though the mintage of proof coins officially continued until 1883. The trade dollar was re-monetized when the Coinage Act of 1965 was signed into law.
The United States trade dollar is a silver fineness of. 900 or 90% dollar coin that was issued by the United States Mint and minted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Carson City, and San Francisco from 1873 to 1885. Business strike trade dollars were last produced in 1878 and proof coin production continued until 1885. The coin weighs 420 grains (27.2 g), about 8 grains (0.52 g) more than the domestic silver dollar (Seated Liberty Dollars and Morgan Dollars) of the time. It is 4 grains heavier than the Mexican peso; however, the peso is.The coin was designed by William Barber, the mint's chief engraver. More trade dollars were minted in San Francisco than Carson City and Philadelphia combined. San Francisco was closest both to the source of the silver as well as the ultimate destination of the coins, China.
Many Trade dollars have what are called "chopmarks" on them. Chinese merchants would stamp the coins in order to verify their correct weight and value. The United States Congress authorized the U. Mint to create a trade dollar to improve trade with the Orient, China in particular.Prior to that, the Mexican peso had been the primary silver coin used in trading with China. In fact, the eagle on the trade dollar's reverse looks quite similar to the peso's. Collectors are warned that recently a large number of U. Trade dollars have been forged in China made with base metal.
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