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History of the Silver Dollar and Liberty silver dollar coin

The coinage of the Trade Dollar was authorized by act of February 12, 1873, and was not intended for circulation in the United States, but for export to China.

It was designed to compete with the Spanish and Mexican dollar. That empire, having no mint for the coinage of gold or silver, depended upon foreign coin for its domestic circulation, and until the institution of the Trade Dollar the principal shipments of coin to China were in the form of Mexican dollars.

The Trade Dollar was made a trifle more valuable than the American and Mexican dollar, thus not only affording a market for the surplus silver of the mines of the Pacific Coast, but furnishing merchants and importers from China with silver in a convenient form for payment for commodities, instead of their being obliged to purchase Mexican dollars for that purpose.

When its coinage was authorized it was inadvertently made a legal tender to amount of five dollars, but this was repealed by section 2, Act of July 22, 1876.

Authorized to be coined, Act of April 2, 1792. Weight, 416 grains; fineness, 892.4. Weight changed, ACt of January 18, 1837, to 412 1/2 grains. Fineness changed, Act of January 18, 1837, to 900. Coinage discontinued, Act of February 12, 1873. Coinage reauthorized, Act of February 28, 1878.

1794. Obverse: Liberty head, facing right, flowing hair, fifteen stars; above, "LIBERTY;" beneath, "1794."

Reverse: An eagle with raised wings, encircled by branches of laurel crossed; "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." On the edge, "HUNDRED CENTS, ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT." Size, 24.
1795. No. 1. Same.
1795. No. 2. Bust of Liberty, facing right, hair bound by a ribbon, shoulders draped, fifteen stars.
Reverse: An eagle with expanded wings, standing upon clouds, within a wreath of palm and laurel, which is crossed and tied. "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."
1796. Same as No. 2. of 1795.
1797. No. 1. Same as No. 2 of 1795, with sixteen stars, six of which are facing.
1797. No. 2. Same, with seven stars facing.
1798. No. 1. Same as No. 2 of 1795, with fifteen stars.
1798. No. 2. Same, with thirteen stars.
1798. No. 3. Obverse: Same, with thirteen stars.

Reverse: An eagle with raised wings, bearing the United States shield upon its breast, in beak, a scroll inscribed "E PLURIBUS UNUM." A bundle of thirteen arrows in the right talon, and an olive branch in the left. Above, are clouds, and thirteen stars. "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." Size, 25.
1799 to 1804, inclusive. Same as No. 3, of 1798.
1805 to 1839, inclusive. None issued.
1840 to 1865, inclusive. Obverse: Liberty seated upon a rock, supporting with her right hand the United States shield, across which floats a scroll inscribed "LIBERTY," and with her left the staff and liberty cap; beneath, the date.

Reverse: An eagle with expanded wings, bearing the United States shield upon its breast, and an olive branch and three arrows in its talons. "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." "ONE DOLL." Reeded edge; size, 24.
1866 to 1873, inclusive. Same, with a scroll above the eagle, inscribed, "IN GOD WE TRUST."
1874 to 1877, inclusive. None issued.
1878. Obverse: Liberty head facing left, upon which is a cap, a wheat and cotton wreath, and a band inscribed "LIBERTY;" above, "E PLURIBUS UNUM," beneath, the date. Thirteen stars.

Reverse: An eagle with expanded wings pointing upwards; in right talon an olive branch with nine leaves; in the left, three arrows. In the field above, "IN GOD WE TRUST:" beneath, a semi-wreath, tied and crossed, reaching upwards to the wings; "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." Some pieces of the above date (1878) were coined with eight feathers in the tail during the year, but seven have been adopted.