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In the last half of the 19th century world trading powers were at a serious disadvantage when trading with the Far East since most traders in the area would only accept coins other then Mexican Pesos at a deep discount. To make matters worse Mexican Pesos could only be purchased at inflated prices. In response to this various governments issued large silver coins to the Mexican standards (or in the case of the US to what they thought they were) known collectively as Trade Dollars.

Many nations minted Trade Dollars for specific use in colonies or for other non-domestic markets. The U.S. Trade Dollar was specifically for use in China, to compete against the Mexican Peso, and the Britsh Trade Dollar.

The U.S. Trade Dollar has the destinction of being the largest U.S. coin minted for circulation, massing in at 420 grains. This fact is proudly proclaimed on the reverse of the coin, along with "900 FINE". The obverse of the coin has a picture of a seated Liberty holding an olive branch. The reverse features an eagle holding arrows and an olive branch. This coin was minted from 1874-1878, and in very limited numbers from 1879-1885.

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