A Collector's Principle : Rarity Is Always The Arbiter Of Value

British Trade Dollar 1901 Obverse.

 As a coin collector myself I have always been partial to the British dollar. This is because and I thick many will agree, that the coin is a very beautiful silver coin. Both the obverse and reverse are elegantly designed. And compared with the other "trade" dollars from Japan, the United States and France, it is the most "international" in concept. its denomination being written in three languages, i.e. English, Chinese and Malay.

British Trade Dollar 1901 Reverse.
 Yet, it is not a particularly popular coin. For some unusual reason, British collectors do not care much about collecting it. Perhaps, it may be because many feel that it is not really a 'British" coin.

  As a result, a vast number of British Trade Dollars coin has been melted down for its silver content, probably when the metal's price was high in 1980's.. It has been estimated by some that there are perhaps about 100,000 British Trade Dollars in existence today. And it was believed that more than 274 million of them were minted from 1895 to 1935, the remaining 100,000 should become quite collectable. The fact is I am not aware of anyone who has a complete collection.

  That aside, collectors have often been valuing the common dates of this coin close to its silver value. It has, since World War II, fluctuated from as low as US$1 for a common date (in the early 1960s when the silver price was approximately US60 cents an ounce) to a high of US$45 (during the early 1980s when the metal was pegged at about US$50 to an ounce).

  But rare dates are another game altogether. In 1985, during an auction in Hong Kong, a rare uncirculated 1921 (smallest mintage of all the years) was bidded up to US$18,000. This specimen was, and still is, the "King of the Brirish Trade Dollars".

Rarity The Arbiter Of Value
British Dollar Coins 1921. Obverse.

This proves the principle of coin collecting - rarity is the arbiter of value.


  1. Dear Dickson,
    BTD is considered as Hong Kong coin more than as straits settlements coin. It was initially circulated in SS and HK from 1895 - 1902. But it was replaced in King Edward $1 dollar in SS since 1903 but continued as Hong Kong coinage til 1935.

    Apart from 1921, 1934, 1935 are super rare.
    1900C, 1900 no mint mark, 1904B and 1896B are difficult to find.
    1895 / 1895B, 1901C, 1902C and 1913B still occasionally seen...
    1907B & 1925 also a good year to keep.
    The rest are common date.

    Another features special for BTD is plentiful of overdates coins are struck

    Last notes, beware of counterfeit.

  2. Uhuk2.... I am a fan of British Trade Dollars too but the price nowadays a very expensive, last time I can get the "not so popular year" at RM50. Nowadays, finding a genuine trade dollars for a price around RM100 is almost impossible. Most of the trade dollar around that price a fake.

  3. Hi Kg,
    Looking at your comments,you had did a in-dept research on BTD silver coins.No wonder I was stunned when you showed me your excellent collection of BTD silver coins.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi Bro Lunaticg,
    No more good old days lah!
    RM50? RM 100 BTD ? What I know now is RM250 minimum !
    So are your earlier collections for sale!?

  5. Wow, great to know Kg has all these BTDs of rarer dates.
    The British may not be interested but seems like the Chinese do...maybe just a wild presumption, haha.
    Thanks a lot for sharing Dickson.
    Interesting article indeed ;)

  6. Dear Dickson,

    There are other Straits settlements coins that probably can still be collected now; that in years to come becoming difficult to get. Eg: 1903 KEVII raised B, KEVII 50 cents 1902, 1903, QV 50 cents.


  7. Hi Whycollect,
    Kg has been very consistent and persistent in collecting BTD silver dollars.In due time,he will be having the best set in Malaysia.

  8. Kg,
    Peter Ang's QV 50 Cents set you should consider.Or an other collector of QV 50 cents having about 18 pieces in AF to AEF condition for sale !If you like to consider to buy, I can arrange,asking price 13.5k!

    1886 - VF
    1887 - VF
    1888 - GVF
    1890H - AVF
    1891 - GF
    1894 - AF
    1895 - VF
    1896 - GVF
    1897 - AVF
    1897H - GVF
    1898 - VF
    1899 - GVF
    1900 - VF
    1900H - F
    1901 - AVF
    1902 - AEF
    1903 - AEF
    1905 - GVF
    Graded by Sifu Tan Tai Seng.

  9. Dear

    Thanks for the kind words on BTD collections, i focused on it since few years ago... I don't have the super rare years. But do have a full collections of all the other years and overdates.

    I do hear of a couple of collectors in Northern Malaysia and Terengganu holding 1921 BTD and a collector is holding 1935 BTD... and the price for one will definately can buy you more than all the QV coins above.