The trade dollar was a United States dollar coin minted to compete with other large silver coins that were already popular in East Asia. The idea first came about in the 1860s, when the price of silver began to decline due to increased mining efforts in the western United States. A bill providing in part for the issuance of the trade dollar was eventually put beforeCongress, where it was approved and later signed into law as the Coinage Act of 1873. The act made trade dollars legal tender up to five dollars. A number of designs were considered for the trade dollar, and an obverse and reverse created by William Barber were selected.
The coins were first struck in 1873, and most of the production was sent to China. Eventually, bullion producers began converting large amounts of silver into trade dollars, causing the coins to make their way into American commercial channels. This caused frustration among those to whom they were given in payment, as the coins were largely maligned and traded for less than one dollar each. In response to their wide distribution in American commerce, the coins were officially demonetized in 1876, but continued to circulate. Production of business strikes ended in1878, though the mintage of proof coinscontinued until 1883. The trade dollar was re-monetized when the Coinage Act of 1965 was signed into law.
American Silver Eagle
The design on the coin's obverse was taken from the "Walking Liberty" design by Adolph A. Weinman, which originally had been used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar coin of the United States from 1916 to 1947. As this iconic design had been a public favorite—and one of the most beloved designs of any United States coinage of modern times, silver or otherwise—it was revived for the Silver Eagle decades later. The obverse is inscribed with the year of minting or issuance, the word LIBERTY, and the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST.
The reverse was designed by John Mercanti and portrays a heraldic eagle behind a shield; the eagle grasps an olive branch in its right talon and arrows in its left talon, echoing theGreat Seal of the United States; above the eagle are thirteen five-pointed stars representing the Thirteen Colonies. The reverse is inscribed with the phrases UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1 OZ. FINE SILVER~ONE DOLLAR, and E PLURIBUS UNUM (on the banner that the eagle holds in its beak), as well as the mintmark if applicable.
Some Examples of The American Dollar Coins:
1. American Silver Eagle
2. Morgan dollar (1878–1904; 1921)