100% of the trade dollars, peace dollars, and morgan dollars listed on e-bay from China are fake. This is the voice of experience speaking. I have purchased 11 trade dollars from four different sellers all of which claimed they were authentic and all graded as fake. Do not let the cheap price trap you. I am pleased that there are very few Trade or Morgan Dollars currently listed that show China as the location.
Various guides cautioning ebayers has helped reduce the fakes. HOWEVER, please remember there were many fakes sold in the U.S. before it was reduced to the current levels.
Those buyers are probably eager to pass their good fortune along to another unsuspecting ebayer. BEWARE OF UNGRADED RARE DATE COINS, even if they are being sold by a U.S. seller. There are many U.S. buyers who have bought fakes and would like to recover their investment. Always ask why a seller of a rare coin why the he/she is not having the coin graded? Even with authentic coins ungraded rare dates should raise a red flag. Frequently, the seller does not have it graded because of defects (cleaning, etc.) that causes it to be un-gradeable.
There is evidence that the China Scam artists are shifting to other coins see below on Peace Dollars. Just like the tainted food, the lead in toys, and other sub-standard products from China, a China seller on e-bay in coins and most high dollar art, etc. is a virtual guarantee of a fake. As we all know, a citizen of China would certainly not scam an American, yeah right. If you believe that I have some swap land in Florida I would like to sell you.
BUY ONLY CERTIFIED (by PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS) trade dollars (of all dates), morgan dollars (of rare dates), or any rare date coins, since third tier grading services will grade FAKES as authentic and there is another guide on e-bay where a Washington Quarter clearly altered but the third tier grading services still graded as high uncirculated even though the coin was clearly altered.
All the fake trade dollars I purchased from China weighted correctly and did not have several of the grading points that normally identify fakes (be sure your trade dollars measure exactly 38.1 millimeters in diameter), a smaller diameter indicates a cast coin (reproductions). Also, contrary to some guides on e-bay, most of the China reproductions are caste in brass. The coin still rings like silver, but brass castings shrink by approximately 6% which reduces the diameter from the correct 38.1 Millimeters.
There have been so many fake trade and morgan dollars sent to the U.S. it would be wise to avoid any ungraded dollars, since U.S. sellers may be passing these fakes along to the next buyers. If you do buy an ungraded trade dollar have it graded immediately, even if it is a U.S. seller. If you bought from a U.S. seller you might have a chance to get your money back, but if you bought from China lots of luck getting a refund.
PLEASE NOTE, even graded coins may not be authentic if you buy a third and fourth class grading service (see my guide All Grading Services are not Equal). See other guides on buyers who have bought graded coins that turned out to be FAKES.
When buying graded Trade Dollars stick to the four most reputable grading services (PCGS, NGC, ICG, & ANACS). Second tier grading services have been known to grade fake coins of all types and higher value Gold Coins are a favorite of forgers.
Also, beware of other key date morgans (i.e. 1893 S, etc.) from China. These are almost certainly fake. The Chinese are very excellent artisans and they are naturally choosing the rarest dates to copy. So the old adage is correct, if it is to good to be true it probably is. Buyer beware of ALL coins from China.
Just recently I was browsing the peace dollars for sale and saw a 1928 Peace Dollar (a key peace date) with a starting bid of about $25.00 and S&H $25.00. Sure enough it was a seller from China, but when you looked at the picture of the coin it was a 1923 Peace Dollar a very common date and in VF at best condition, which is available all day long on ebay for $9.00 to 12.00 a coin. BUYERS BEWARE OF ALL E-BAY LISTINGS FROM CHINA. Look at the other guides in many other products cagetories other than coins at the problems buyers have had with CHINA purchases.
BRIEF HISTORY OF TRADE DOLLARS: Trade dollars were minted for trade with the orient (China, etc.). They were minted primarily between 1873 and 1878, with proofs only (in very limited numbers) being minted between 1879 and 1885. American traders complained that the European dollar-size coins were 420 granes of 90% silver compared to the standard U.S. silver dollar of 412.50 granes of 90% silver, which they felt placed them at a disadvantage in trade. To remedy this, the U.S. Treasury issued the trade dollar specifically for trade with the orient. Since most of these coins went to the orient, Trade Dollars are one of the rarest of U.S. silver dollars. Trade dollars are also very rare due to the melting and redemption of trade dollars by the U.S. Treasury. For further information see The United States Trade Dollar, by John M. Willem, Second Edition, Racine, Ws.
ALSO SEE MY GUIDES ON "COIN GRADING SERVICES ARE NOT ALL EQUAL" AND "PEACE DOLLARS VERSUS MORGAN DOLLARS."
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