US Trade Dollars were a type of silver coin that was issued by the United States government between 1873 and 1885. These coins were minted primarily for use in trade with China and other Asian countries, and were intended to compete with other silver coins that were already circulating in these markets.
The idea of creating US Trade Dollars originated in the mid-1860s, when American merchants began to complain about the lack of a high-quality silver coin that could be used in trade with China. At the time, Chinese merchants preferred silver coins that were produced by other countries, such as the Spanish silver dollar, because they were considered to be of higher quality than the coins produced by the United States.
In response, the US government authorized the production of the US Trade Dollar in 1873, with the aim of creating a coin that could compete with other high-quality silver coins in Asian markets. The US Trade Dollar was designed to be larger and heavier than other US silver coins in circulation at the time, with a weight of 27.22 grams and a diameter of 38.1 millimeters.
The obverse side of the US Trade Dollar featured an image of Liberty seated on a bale of goods, holding a pole with a Phrygian cap on top. The reverse side of the coin featured an eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch, surrounded by a wreath and the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “TRADE DOLLAR.”
Despite the intention of the US government to use these coins for trade with China and other Asian countries, the US Trade Dollar quickly became popular among US citizens as well. However, the high silver content of these coins made them vulnerable to melting down for their precious metal, which eventually led to their discontinuation in 1885.
Today, US Trade Dollars are collectible and sought after by coin collectors. Their unique history and significance in American trade and commerce make them a interesting.