Composition and Specifications

Trade dollars were struck out of the same composition as the previous Seated Liberty Dollars, consisting of 90% silver and 10% copper. However, the new Trade Dollar was heavier with a weight of 27.22 grams, compared to 26.73 grams for the previous series. The increase in weight and silver content was done intentionally in order to make the U.S. coins more attractive for export trade with the Orient.

Each coin has a diameter of 38.1 mm with a reeded edge. Production of circulation strikes occurred from 1873 to 1878 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco and Carson City Mints. The mint marks for the latter two Mints are located on the reverse of the coin, beneath the eagle.

Production quality varies. It is apparent when evaluating striking quality of some issues that producing the coins in quantity was more important than quality. However, with intensive searching sharply struck pieces can be found. Many Trade Dollars will be found with chop marks, or Chinese symbols stamped on the coins. These are sometimes collected separately from the chop-free coins.

This series has been particularly prone to counterfeits, of both low and high quality. Buying raw, uncertified coins is not recommended, as some counterfeits are hard to discern from genuine coins.