Coin Community Family of Web Sites
Like us on Facebook! Subscribe to our Youtube Channel! Check out our Twitter! Check out our Pinterest!
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?


Welcome Guest! Need help? Got a question? Inherit some coins?
Our coin forum is completely free! Register Now!

The 1859-S Liberty Seated Dollar: An (Official) "Trade" Dollar

 
To participate in the forum you must log in or register.
Author Previous TopicReplies: 9 / Views: 439Next Topic  
Press Manager
Learn More...
United States
1411 Posts
 Posted 10/30/2020  12:10 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
PCGS - The 1859-S Liberty Seated dollar is one of the scarcer issues in its series, with a mintage of only 20,000 pieces. It also marks the first year of silver dollar production for the San Francisco Mint, which officially came online in 1854 in the waning years of the California Gold Rush. But the low mintage and first-year "S" mint status of the 1859-S Liberty Seated dollar isn't necessarily what makes this coin a notable piece, though those are nevertheless significant attributes. Rather, it's why this issue was made and where shipments of this particular coin went that stands out about this particular coin.


Liberty Seated dollar, 1859-S $1, PCGS MS64+


A Silver Story
In the 1850s, large silver coins were an important trading medium between North America and merchants in Asia - specifically those in China. But even by the mid-19th century that wasn't a new market phenomenon, especially regarding the use of silver coins from the United States. Untold quantities of early United States silver dollars wound up in trading circles overseas, many of those coins destined for China. This is one reason why relatively few Flowing Hair Dollars and Draped Bust Dollars survive today, with these coins collectively yielding perhaps just 3% of its original mintage for collectors today. Many of these large silver coins were transacted overseas and later melted for their bullion content.

By the 1840s, when the United States Mint had begun minting regular-issue silver dollars again after a decades-long hiatus, other silver coins from around the world had become the darlings of the American-Asian trading circuit. Among these is the Mexico 8 Reales, a hefty silver coin with larger dimensions than the competing Liberty Seated dollar. With its .903-fine silver composition, weight of 27.07 grams, and 38.9 millimeter diameter, the 8 Reales was purer, heavier, and physically larger than the contemporary United States Liberty Seated dollar, with its .900 fineness, 26.73-gram weight, and slimmer diameter of 38.1-millimeters. Asian merchants preferred the heavier silver Mexican coin. And Mexico had an advantage in the trade dynamics anyway, with its fruitful silver mines and geographical proximity to the Pacific - a body of water distant from the traditional United States minting hub of the Eastern Seaboard.

Read the Entire Article
Bedrock of the Community
Learn More...
United States
51978 Posts
 Posted 10/30/2020  12:24 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good read. thanks.
Pillar of the Community
United States
3662 Posts
 Posted 10/30/2020  12:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jimbucks to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting. So if these were sent to China it would seem many survivors would have chop marks. Yet I have never seen one as such, has anyone here?
Pillar of the Community
United States
2154 Posts
 Posted 10/30/2020  3:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add thq to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I find this explanation pretty dubious. IMO it was a circulation coin for the West Coast, along with the superabundant New Orleans dollars. The SF mintage is insignificant. Given their very high survival in circulated grades you have to seriously question whether they actually left SF on a ship bound for China. And there are no chopmarks...and there are virtually no uncirculated specimens. The American trade coins were SF double eagles, minted in the millions, not a puny handful of silver dollars underweight to the Mexican dollar.

Bowers offers a tantalizing hint as to what really happened:

"Every vessel leaving San Francisco for Chinese ports takes a large amount of Mexican dollars."

-SF Bulletin, August 1859

If the demand was for Mexican dollars, why would a single American "galleon" leave SF with 20,000 underweight US dollars as a cargo? That Spanish economic model was gone by 1800. In addition, a hefty premium had been paid to convert Mexican silver into American coins. IMO it's more likely that the dollars went to the banks, and like the rest of the SF early silver coinage, went out from there into heavy local circulation. Some of that might have made its way into ships bound for China, but only as an inferior substitute for pesos.

I found an apocryphal bit of information about coinage circulating in San Francisco in 1871.....

"Small sums are reckoned in 'bits,' which are imaginary coins having the nominal value of twelve and a Half Cents. Indeed, the absence of single cents causes something worse than confusion. A newspaper costs ten cents. Suppose that a quarter dollar, equal to twenty-five cents, is presented in payment for the newspaper, the seller will probably return a dime, which is equal to ten cents. Thus fifteen cents have been paid instead of ten. His excuse will be that he has not any half dimes, these coins being extremely scarce. In California this is taken as a thing of course by the natives and the residents."

https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylu...2n05a11.html

Any American legal tender COINS were precious to Californians for decades, as all transactions were in coin. Double eagles were superabundant but everything smaller was not. Cents, nickels and paper money were regarded as foreign curiosities.

"Two minutes ago I would have sold my chances for a tired dime." Fred Astaire
Edited by thq
10/30/2020 5:11 pm
Moderator
Learn More...
United States
92098 Posts
 Posted 10/30/2020  4:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It was an interesting read. I hope this will be an interesting discussion as well.
Pillar of the Community
United States
962 Posts
 Posted 10/30/2020  4:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add machine20 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I agree with thq. With a mintage of only 20k and all of them shipped to China, I think the survival rate would be such that the value would be an order of magnitude higher
Pillar of the Community
United States
3662 Posts
 Posted 11/01/2020  8:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jimbucks to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Not much discussion on this thread. The point on lack of chop marks on this issue seems to challenge the premise of the article. Can anyone show a single example of this issue having a chop mark? Alternatively, why there aren't any examples with chop marks if these really were sent to China.
Edited by jimbucks
11/01/2020 8:15 pm
Bedrock of the Community
Learn More...
United States
51978 Posts
 Posted 11/01/2020  8:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That says it well.
Bedrock of the Community
United States
17026 Posts
 Posted 11/03/2020  12:12 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I can't say that the 1859 S dollar were all exported, but apparently at least some of them were. excerpts for lettere from Us Consulates in Shanghai (08/31/1859) and Hong Kong (09/10/1859)

Shanghai
5. The gold and silver coins of the United States are not much known in China; the latter as not taken readily from their inferiority in purity and weight, in the opinion of the natives, to the Mexican.

Hong Kong
I have received some of the new coinage of silver dollars from San Francisco, and have had them tested by my Compradore, who informed me they will pass current here, if the Chinese in the interior can be induced to take them, but that it will take several years to introduce them.

So apparently they were shipped to China, but they were not expected to be well received.
Gary Schmidt
CCF Advertiser
United States
83 Posts
 Posted 11/03/2020  12:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Paradime Coins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the post very informative. A true conditional rarity
  Previous TopicReplies: 9 / Views: 439Next Topic  
 
To participate in the forum you must log in or register.



Disclaimer: While a tremendous amount of effort goes into ensuring the accuracy of the information contained in this site, Coin Community assumes no liability for errors. Copyright 2005 - 2020 Coin Community Family- all rights reserved worldwide. Use of any images or content on this website without prior written permission of Coin Community or the original lender is strictly prohibited.
Contact Us  |  Advertise Here  |  Privacy Policy / Terms of Use

Coin Community Forum © 2005 - 2020 Coin Community Forums
It took 0.58 seconds to rattle this change. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.05