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1874-CC/S Trade Dollars and their possible link to a shipwreck

HKColonialCoinsHKColonialCoins Posts: 9
edited August 5, 2022 3:12AM in U.S. Coin Forum

In November of 2021 I found 50 or so American Trade Dollars in horrific condition, where visible all dated 1874 and a mix of CC and S mint marks. Environmental and fire damage was present on all of them while some but not all had signs of cleaning.

I have since been able to link them to a specific and possible shipwreck, the SS Japan. I have presented my findings at a symposium and written about it on Numista. You may watch the video or read the post and make your own conclusions.

The author Robert Wells of the book "Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea" was of great help in providing invaluable and exclusive access to the facts regarding this obscure shipwreck and the majority of the hoard is now with Payton Lindeman of @classickidcoins on Instagram. They are the ones in the photo after they arranged to meet.

The details about the coins, the history, the wreck and the evidence are in the video and post. I would love to hear what the community has to say about the whole thing. These coins hold a lot of history and I wish to share it with you all.

A coin has been submitted for authentication. I hope to get a result back in a year or so.

Forum post: https://en.numista.com/forum/topic117270.html#p958375
Symposium video: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/614142
Photo album: https://imgur.com/a/uet7hSw
Book website: https://southchinavoices.com/
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hkcolonialcoins/









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    Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,672 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @HKColonialCoins Very interesting. Always enjoy a historic shipwreck story. Gonna check out your links. Thanks. Peace Roy

    BST: endeavor1967, synchr, kliao, Outhaul, Donttellthewife, U1Chicago, ajaan, mCarney1173, SurfinHi, MWallace, Sandman70gt, mustanggt, Pittstate03, Lazybones, Walkerguy21D, coinandcurrency242 , thebigeng, Collectorcoins, JimTyler, USMarine6, Elkevvo, Coll3ctor, Yorkshireman, CUKevin, ranshdow, CoinHunter4, bennybravo, Centsearcher, braddick, Windycity, ZoidMeister, mirabela, JJM, RichURich, Bullsitter, jmski52, LukeMarshall

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @HKColonialCoins... Welcome aboard. Thanks for the links, pictures and information. I happen to have a PCGS slabbed 1874 CC Trade dollar, chopmarked (two on obverse, one on reverse). XF45. Certainly not part of the shipwreck, but interesting coincidence. Cheers, RickO

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    CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,393 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good stuff, one of the things that draws me to trade dollars is their tangible connection to traceable journeys/history between the Wild West and the orient. Another thread to that history is super cool.

    None of them appear chopped so I wonder what can be ascertained from that. On their way there? Chops happened at different layers of commerce?

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    @Crypto said:
    None of them appear chopped so I wonder what can be ascertained from that. On their way there? Chops happened at different layers of commerce?

    From what I wrote in my post and shared in my video, they would not have been chopped since if they are from the wreck, they never made it to shore. the Ship sank 20 NM off the coast of China and went down to the bottom of the sea floor, 42 metres below. Even though some of them were salvaged, their condition from the fire was too far gone to release them back into circulation and the silver most likely had to be used to pay for the cost of the salvage.

    Chopmarks were done by almost every merchant and shroff in China who handled silver. They were done for purposes such as making sure the coins were actually silver by piercing the skin and looking for base metals underneath, and for stealing silver. They especially liked to chop mark coins that were new to the market since they were very suspicious and wanted to avoid being cheated.

    US Trade Dollars were especially popular to chop at this period because they were relatively new and unseen before, and also because they were slightly heavier than the other types of trade coins that were circulating. This was considered a bonus and many TDs ended up in the melting pot as soon as the merchants got them, to pay for local goods and services in the form of Chinese ingots called 'Sycee'.

    Chop marks are a whole other interesting aspect of Trade silver, I suggest you look up Colin Gulberg and the Chopmark Collectors Club and join their newsletter.

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    OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @keoj @DDR you might enjoy this thread.

    @HKColonialCoins you've put in great work to link these coins back to a significant historical event. It's too bad these were brought up without documentation at the time - for example the SS Central America artifacts were all filmed as they were brought onboard the ship, each and every one. Even so, you've shown that these almost certainly came from the SS Japan, and I believe continued study will only further back up this theory.

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    @OriginalDan Thanks!

    Yes it's a shame these seemingly came out of the water by accident. As we've discussed, likely fishermen, but who knows.

    At least this journey has brought a new and exciting piece of history back to life! Let's hope it doesn't get blown up this weekend....

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    Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,672 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @HKColonialCoins BTW, A recent post on the use of specialized laser to clean coins, was very illuminating. Might be worth considering for a particular coin. Peace Roy

    BST: endeavor1967, synchr, kliao, Outhaul, Donttellthewife, U1Chicago, ajaan, mCarney1173, SurfinHi, MWallace, Sandman70gt, mustanggt, Pittstate03, Lazybones, Walkerguy21D, coinandcurrency242 , thebigeng, Collectorcoins, JimTyler, USMarine6, Elkevvo, Coll3ctor, Yorkshireman, CUKevin, ranshdow, CoinHunter4, bennybravo, Centsearcher, braddick, Windycity, ZoidMeister, mirabela, JJM, RichURich, Bullsitter, jmski52, LukeMarshall

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    jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 9,303 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow! You are a fortunate collector. Great appropriation for your endeavor. I feel it to be a great find and thank you for sharing with us.
    Jim


    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.....Mark Twain
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    DDRDDR Posts: 1,561 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Really fascinating! Thanks for posting.

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    keojkeoj Posts: 980 ✭✭✭

    Great work, awesome job (well documented!!!). Are all the coins from each mint identical? (Or were they a mix of S and CC dies used?). Let me know if you need help on that.

    Best, Keoj

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    HKColonialCoinsHKColonialCoins Posts: 9
    edited August 5, 2022 3:54PM

    @keoj said:
    Great work, awesome job (well documented!!!). Are all the coins from each mint identical? (Or were they a mix of S and CC dies used?). Let me know if you need help on that.

    Please, that would be great! So far we've identified a few mint mark varieties.

    Micro cc: Breen-5786. Mintmark. 74 mm high; .75 mm spacing between C's.
    Minute CC: Mintmark .9 mm high; .75 mm spacing between C's.
    Tall CC: Mintmark 1.17 mm high; .6 mm spacing between C's.
    And of course, S mint marks, unsure as to variety.

    So that's minimum 4 different dies. The S mintmarks are harder to attribute because we only have found 3 examples in the hoard out of 57. Some more may exist but the condition is so poor it's not possible to identify the coin. Here's one example of a reverse.

    If it was not part of this hoard, it would be practically impossible to identify it as a TD!

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    ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 498 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Really neat story, interested in hearing more as more research is conducted.

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    @Namvet69 said:
    @HKColonialCoins BTW, A recent post on the use of specialized laser to clean coins, was very illuminating. Might be worth considering for a particular coin. Peace Roy

    Sounds fascinating but I think I have to accept the conditions of the coins as they are due to the potential historical link. Wouldn't want to change them in any way.

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    @ChopmarkedTrades said:
    Really neat story, interested in hearing more as more research is conducted.

    Thank you, this isn't over, not for another year at least, minimum. That's how long I'll need to wait for PCGS to get back to me and then some other stuff is happening. All very exciting!

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