Fugio1787's Blog

15 Apr 2015

Trade Dollars

Coins-United States | Fugio1787

Fifty years ago John Willem published his revised standard work on trade dollars, "The United States Trade Dollar: America's Only Unwanted Unhonored Coin." The title of this informative book tells a lot, but that is unfortunate because collecting trade dollars can be an honorable pursuit.

In the 1970s when I was working at my first job and expanding my childhood interest in coins, I began reading Coin World and numismatic offerings such as those from Bowers and Ruddy. Being single, well paid and having few expenses and responsibilities, I was able to indulge myself in coins, many of which are obviously much more expensive today. One area of interest was U.S. trade dollars. During that time I acquired four: 1873-S, 1874-CC, 1875-CC and 1878-S. All are in XF condition and some had interesting toning. I subsequently added an 1877-S, VF, which is fascinating because of copious chop marks on the obverse and reverse.

I basically hit a wall on collecting, though, because of the prohibitive cost of the proof-only trade dollars. Later, quite by accident, I began accumulating circulated British trade dollars, most of which were available for about $20. These are attractive coins, minted between 1895 and 1935, when the British Empire and its commerical ventures were still of great importance. They have an impressive image of a female warrior, Britannia, on the obverse, and what might be called a series of Eastern and Middle Eastern characters on the reverse.

The British trade dollars periodically surface at coin shows, but it seems less so than in the past. Collecting these or U.S. trade dollars offer an opportunity to delve into a coin series which has had an interesting and somewhat different history than those which were restricted to general circulation.



Level 7

I only have two of these wonderful coins. Thank you there was some things I did not know . Thanks for that and the blog.mike


Level 5

Thanks for the information!


Level 5

I should get one of two great examples for my collection.

Dollar Guy

Level 5

I would really like to acquire a Trade Dollar for my collection just to make sure it has a presence in my collection. However the dollar I chose to collect has to have the proper number of Chop marks to show it was used in its intended purpose. I find chap marks the more fascinating aspects of the coins.


Level 4

Nice! I should get some Trade Dollars.


Level 6

Good blog! Trade Dollars are a favorite of mine. I have a 1874 CC Trade Dollar AU 53 ( It's up on "My Collections")... and is one of my pride and joys! : )


Level 4

Thanks. That's a really nice coin that you picked up. And with a great pedigree! You should be pleased.


Level 4

Thanks. Good point about the fakes and the bogus encapsulated coins.

Juno Moneta

Level 4

Both of those Trade Dollars are great. The only note of caution is to buy from reputable sources. The Chinese ability to manufacture passable fakes is amazing, even to the point of faking encapsulation. Thanks for renewing my interest in these and the chopmarks they carry.

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