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Trade dollars were first issued in 1873 to compete with the Mexican peso in trade in the Orient. Regular silver dollars were not accepted because they were underweight relative to the peso. In some cases the entire mintage of a Trade dollar date was sent to China or other Far East ports. The merchant could be identified by his or her particular chop mark which was usually a Chinese character punched into the coin. Some Trade dollars were chopped dozens of times, while others were only chopped once or twice. Still others, of course, received no chop marks whatsoever.
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