The history of the Trade Dollar


In the 16th century, European merchants began to sail further west and east, exploring undiscovered routes in search of new luxuries. Manila Galleon trading ships laden with Spanish silver dollars (known as ‘pieces of eight’), set sail from South America, across the Pacific between the Philippines and Mexico. Precious cargoes of spices, porcelain and silks were exchanged for the Orient’s preferred metal of choice – silver. The Spanish Dollar quickly established its reputation as the world’s first global money

Original British Trade Dollar Available

Original US Trade Dollar Available

By the late 1600s the British stronghold in the Orient began to flourish with the expansion of its territories governed by The East India Company. By end of the century, The Company had established a trading post in Canton to facilitate the exchange of tea, porcelain and silks for heavy woollens and Indian cottons. Tea became the most lucrative commodity on the company’s books.

During the 18th century, the Chinese demand for British goods declined. Silver shortages resulted in a search for a new commodity – opium. By 1839, the influx of opium to China had drained the country of its silver causing great concern and leading to the First Opium War between China and Britain. Defeat for the Chinese in 1842 saw the ceding Hong Kong to Britain and the opening several ports to foreign trade

Original Chinese Trade Dollar Available

Original Japanese 1 Yen Dollar Available

Foreign banks were established in Hong Kong as large amounts of silver coins from all over the world arrived and international trade flourished. In order to secure the supply of silver coins, countries adopted their own designs and began minting this unique defacto currency in the same or similar specifications as the Spanish Dollar and the Trade Dollar was born.

The silver trade dollars became a calling card for the different nations in Europe, Japan and China trading in the luxury commodities of the Orient. Issued in the same approximate weight and fineness as the Spanish Dollar they remain a fascinating series for collectors worldwide.

Trade Dollars are available both as original ‘heritage’ coins or as newly minted proof coins in our much admired Trade Dollar Proof Coin Collection.

Original Indo-Chinese Plastre De Commerce (French Trade Dollar) Available

The East India Company’s original Trade Dollars are presented in a luxury red velvet pouch for safe keeping and available in various dates and guaranteed to a minimum of Fine and Very Fine condition