The Trade Dollar has the same composition as the previous silver dollar series at 90% silver and 10% copper. However, the weight is 420 grains or 27.22 grams, representing an increase from the previous standard of 26.73 grams. The increase in weight and silver content was intended to make the United States coins comparable to the Spanish Dollar, which was used as the common currency for trade in the Far East.
Each coin has a diameter of 38.1 mm with a reeded edge. Production for circulation strikes occurred at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Carson City Mint facilities. 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.