1876-S $1 Trade Silver Dollar with Chop Mark, Obv 1 PCGS MS61


This chopmarked Trade dollar has a great story behind it—and a controversial one at that. These coins were struck for a short time—1873 to 1878—to serve in international trade in the Orient (mostly in China). A chopmark is similar to the endorsement on a check. Chinese shroffs (money changers) and merchants chopped Trade dollars (and other coins) in order to affirm their authenticity and silver content. PCGS has graded 18 as MS61 “Chop Mark” with 51 finer. Please see below for more info on this fascinating short-lived series.


The Chinese port city of Canton, where many of the U.S. Trade dollars first reached China in the 1870s.

The Trade dollar was a fantastic success in China and throughout the Orient, but an abject failure here in America. Why? Because it had legal tender power up to $5, even though it was devised for the China trade. Everything was fine until 1876, when the value of silver started to dip and the silver in Trade dollars was worth less than $1. Then silver merchants and others began having them produced at the mints and circulating them around the U.S. It got to the point whereby around 4,000,000 of them were circulating around America and causing problems. The Trade dollar was cancelled in 1878 by Treasury Secretary John Sherman.

How successful were Trade dollars in China? It was in 1877 that the American Consul in Hong Kong submitted a report on the Trade dollar to Secretary of the Treasury Sherman. The report quotes the opinions of two leading foreign banks in China—the Oriental Bank and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation:

The United States trade dollar has been well received in China .... It is a legal tender at the ports of Foochow and Canton in China, and also at Saigon and Singapore .... the bulk of the direct exchange business between San Francisco and Hong-Kong (which is very considerable) is done in this coin, the natives preferring it to the Mexican dollar .... so great is the demand for trade dollars for shipment to China, that the California Mint is unequal to the task of turning out the coin fast enough to satisfy requirements. This is, in our estimation, evidence powerful enough to convince the most skeptical as to whether the United States trade dollar has been a success or not. It is the best dollar we have ever seen here ...

More Information
PCGS # 40114
Grading Service PCGS
Year of Issue 1876
Grade MS61
Denom Type Trade Dollar
Numeric Denomination T$1
Mint Location San Francisco
Designation NONE
Circ/UnCirc Uncirculated
Strike Type Business
Holder Variety Obv 1 Rev 1
Grade Add On NONE
Holder Type N/A
Is on Sale No

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