How to Detect Counterfeit US Trade Dollars?

Counterfeit US Trade Dollars

The US trade dollars is the only US monetary obligation that has ever been in effect demonetized. Although this 420 grain/27.22gm. .900 fine silver coin was originally authorized by the act of February 12 1873, to compete with other trade coins of the day in the Orient, it was also provided with legal tender status. The legal tender provision was erased by a June 22, 1876 law. Which restricted future production of the coin to export demand.

Enactment  of the coinage act of February 28 1878, authorizing restoration of the standard  silver dollar brought an end to the production of the trade dollar,except for the proofs which have struck through 1885. An act of march 3,1887 repealed the trade dollar provisions and provided for their redemption. Under the provisions of this law, $7,689,036 of the coins were redeemed at face value for recoinage into standard dollars and subsidiary coins, with all that remained outstanding reverting to bullion value.

Counterfeit US Trade Dollars
Counterfeit US Trade Dollars

Counterfeit US trade dollars have flooded the market for many years. Buyers of US trade dollars have to be very careful for what they’re buying, and if you don’t know how to tell a counterfeit from the real thing you are best off just buying coins graded by reputable US grading houses like  PCGS, NGC or other recognized service that certifies the authenticity of the coin. Here are some tips you need to consider while starting to build your US trade dollar collection.

Tips of how to detect counterfeit US trade dollars. 

1) The best and true way to identify fake coins is through their weight, fake coins are silver washed over copper or alloyed metals and weight much lighter whereas a real Trade Dollar will weigh 27.22 grams.

2) Check the selling price at which the trade coins are being offered. Real Trade Dollars coins sell for around RM180 to RM250 for an average conditioned coin. If you are being offered for a much lower price, then you would probably have to double check the coin. Always remember, "Too Cheap To Be True".

3) Check the coin’s numbers and letters for the same design or font of  the same coins. Counterfeit coins always exhibit blur and sand holes details.

Counterfeit US Trade Dollars
 American lady are going to run amok if this is the genuine design of their trade dollar!

4) Check whether the size of the coin appears in the same size as other like coins.A copy coin always slightly smaller then the original coin.

5) Examine the metal texture and compare it to authentic coins of the same type.Sometime you have to use your  "factor elimination" which I always use, the "feeling", each metal has its own "feeling" when you touch them, especially silver.

6) You could also identify a fake US trade dollar coin  by flipping the coin. Most of the fake coins does not have an inverted reverse, in other words when you flip the coin normally the reverse of an original US trade dollar coin is upside down.

Counterfeit US Trade Dollars
                                                                  Full of tiny dots

In general,these fake coins are easy to detect, as they are almost several grams lighter that a real one. Until you can become an expert in identification of counterfeits, buy certified coins from reputable dealers. Even when you can tell the difference, if you’re buying online, only buy certified coins from reputable dealers. Ask someone who knows better before buying  and if you don’t know an expert find one on a community website like and

Most of the fake coins are worn because millions of these coins where made before 1922. The correct ways to find is by checking its weight or use your coin grading books or visit several web-sites that have excellent photos of coins in high definition.Most of the fake trade dollars were copied of 1873-CC, 1874-CC, 1874- S, 1875-CC, 1875 -S, 1877 -CC, 1876 -CC and 1878-CC pieces, and every date and mintmark in the Trade Dollar series.

Counterfeit US Trade Dollars

Today’s counterfeit is much higher quality than the old days cast slugs. We have seen some pieces had fooled reputable US grading houses.

For some counterfeiters, it is easier to make a counterfeit slab than it is to make counterfeit coins. Even when purchasing PCGS, NGC, and ANACS certified coins, be sure you deal with a reputable source or you may end up with a counterfeit coin encased in a counterfeit slab. Buying on Ebay is a sure way to buy a fake, if you must buy on ebay buy PCGS, NGC or ANACS certified coins and even then the certification might be fake.

Good luck !


  1. i have 2 1971 and 1972 trade dollars and i dont know if they are reall.i dont know if in those dates they were any trade dollars

  2. i have coins 420 grain.900 fine year 1875 for sale..