Neil S Berman - Expert Numismatist & Silver Coin Dealer
Silver Coins Trade through History
United States Trade Dollar
The United States Trade Dollar is a silver dollar coin with a finesse of .900 or ninety percent silver and ten percent copper that was issued by the United States government intended for foreign trade. The coin was minted at the United States Mints at Philadelphia, Carson City, and San Francisco between 1873 to 1885. US Trade dollars intended for circulation in trade were last produced in 1878, but proof coin production for collectors continued until 1885. The coin weighs 420 grains (27.2 g), about eight grains (0.52 g) more than the domestic United States Seated Liberty Dollars and Morgan Dollars of the time. It was designed to be 4 grains heavier than the Mexican Peso of the same era, however, the peso is .903 silver. The US Congress authorized the U.S. Mint to create a trade dollar to improve trade with China and the Orient in general. Prior to that, first the Spanish Dollar and then the Mexican peso had been the primary silver coin used by the United States in trading with the Orient. In fact, the eagle on the trade dollar's reverse was deliberately made to look similar to the peso's.