World Coins

An American coin classic receives a modern revival

A bullion coin of similar design to the U.S. Trade dollar has been issued for St. Helena, with Proof .999 fine silver and Proof .9999 fine gold options from Niue.

Images courtesy of the East India Company Bullion Ltd.

America’s Trade dollar was issued as an effort to increase trade with Asia.

The coin was ultimately unsuccessful for its intended purpose, but the series lives on as one of the shortest and most interesting in U.S. numismatics.


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A bullion coin of similar design to the U.S. Trade dollar has been issued for St. Helena, with Proof .999 fine silver and Proof .9999 fine gold options from Niue.

The coins compose the second release in the East India Company Bullion Ltd.’s program dubbed the Trade Dollar Collection. The company’s Trade Dollar Collection series of five designs pays tribute to the coins that shaped international commerce in Asia. The latest coins features the distinct design that graced the Trade dollar of the United States — a seated Liberty motif.

Issued from 1873 until 1885, the U.S. Trade dollar weighs 27.2 grams and was struck from .900 fine silver. U.S. Mint engraver William Barber designed the coin. 

The most widely used international silver coin at the time of the Trade dollar’s introduction was the 8-real piece produced in Mexico. 

Coinciding with an increase in trade for tea, spices, textiles, and chinaware between China and the United States, demand grew for a commercial U.S. Trade dollar to compete with other silver trade coins used by other countries in Asia.

The new U.S. Trade dollar was not readily accepted in Asia. It lacked familiarity with local merchants, the price of silver was in decline and competition arose from a Japanese Trade silver dollar in 1875. 

The Mints in Philadelphia, Carson City, and San Francisco ceased production of the Trade dollar in 1878, and produced a very small number of Proof examples annually through 1885. These Proof examples are exceptionally rare, and today only a few remain, highly prized by collectors. 

The Niue 2018 U.S. Trade Dollar gold and silver coins feature a detailed ultra-high relief rendition of the classic design of Liberty seated on bales of goods, extending her hand and bearing an olive branch over the seas on the obverse surrounded by border evoking the style of the Far East.

The obverse side of the Proof collector coins bears the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II created by Raphael Maklouf. The text around the portrait includes NIUE as the issuing authority, the denomination as ONE DOLLAR and the year date 2018. As with all Proof versions of the coins in the Trade Dollar series the effigy is surrounded by an arabesque cartouche.

When complete, the Trade Dollar five-design collection will represent trade dollars from Great Britain, the United States of America, France, Japan and China. 

The Proof 2018 U.S. Trade Dollar silver coin is packaged in a black presentation case with certificate.

Each 2018 gold version, denominated $250, is struck in ultra-high relief and housed in the East India Company’s lockable presentation case with story book and individually numbered certificate. 

The bullion version is being issued in the name of the Government of St. Helena and features the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II and a denomination of £1.

The Brilliant Uncirculated 1-ounce .999 fine silver £1 coin measures 38.6 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 15,000 pieces

The Proof 1-ounce .999 fine silver $1 coin measures 38.6 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 2,500 pieces

The Proof 1-ounce .9999 fine gold $250 coin measures 32 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 200 pieces.

The Proof coins are available to purchase directly from the East India Company.

LPM and other distributors around the world are offering the bullion version.

The third selection in the Trade Dollar series, the 2018 French Trade Dollar coins, is due for release in October 2018. 

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