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Newly acquired 1809 Bust Half Dollar with Chinese Chopmarks

OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

Finally getting around to making a post about this coin, which was recently acquired through a Great Collections auction in early December.

For those who don't follow chopmarked coins, a US Bust Half dollar with Chinese chopmarks is rare. We maybe seen one pop up every 5 years or so if we're lucky. Apparently, not many went to China. As you can see below, the seated halves were shipped in much higher numbers than the bust half counterparts.

This one isn't perfect from a condition standpoint, chopmarks aside, but in the world of US type coins with chopmarks is one of, if not the nicest bust halves known with chops.

1809 Bust Half-Dollar

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To make this post more fun and informative, here are a few other US Type coins with Chinese chopmarks.
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1843 Seated No Motto Half-Dollar (Philadelphia)

1849-O Seated No Motto Half-Dollar (New Orleans)

1853 Arrows & Rays Half-Dollar

1855-S with Arrows Half-Dollar

1859-S No-Motto Seated Dollar

1870-CC with-Motto Seated Dollar

1874-CC Trade Dollar

1881-S Morgan Dollar

Other US types do exist with Chinese chopmarks, such as the later types of seated halves. I'm being picky with those. We also know that a few early dollars went to China, one of those is a holy grail coin for me and I hope to find one some day.

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Comments

  • Original Dan great coins

    Shanghai Museum, Coins in the Collection of the Shanghai Museum: Foreign Currencies. Shanghai Shanghai Calligraphy & Painting Publishing House, 1994:467, no. 1671 This Book is illustrated with rubbings throughout, the 1859-S Seated dollar appears to be in high grade: full rims, Liberty, feathers, etc.

    Interestingly the collection includes silver dollars of 1795, 1796, and 1799, but no other silver dollars until 1859-S, though there are many other silver and gold coins

    The next silver dollar is an 1873 Trade dollar, mintmark if any unclear…Other dollars include Trade dollars 1874 S, 1875 S, 1876 S 1877 S and 1878 S, followed by an 1879 S Morgan dollar, then there is a gap until an 1890 CC. The whole collection is pretty spotty, and must to a degree represent coins set aside from circulation though I suspect that the early dollars are diplomatic pieces or similar…RL

  • jayPemjayPem Posts: 4,039 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You just keep rolling Dan!
    This collection is huge..👏

  • GoBustGoBust Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's a really cool Capped Bust Half Dan! Let me know if it ever needs a new home. :)

  • LJenkins11LJenkins11 Posts: 725 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, that is a fantastic collection of coins. That Capped Bust Half is ridiculous and I'm loving that 1870-CC dollar and 1855-S half, thank you for posting them.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jayPem said:
    You just keep rolling Dan!
    This collection is huge..👏

    Thanks Man, you’ve done well yourself!

    @GoBust said:
    That's a really cool Capped Bust Half Dan! Let me know if it ever needs a new home. :)

    Will keep that in mind…just don’t see too many with chops so I’ll reach out in 10 years ;)

  • W O W !

  • cheezhedcheezhed Posts: 5,679 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was unaware of other types besides Trade Dollars which were made exclusively for foreign commerce.

    Many happy BST transactions
  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ChopmarkedTrades said:

    one of, if not the nicest bust halves known with chops

    Are you challenging me, good sir?

    Also nice 👍

  • Anybody have any chopped U.S. gold to show?

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @OriginalDan ... Some great chop marked coins.... I also have an 1874 CC chop marked Morgan... XF45.... Wanted one for my CC collection. Cheers, RickO

  • Eldorado9Eldorado9 Posts: 2,105 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ricko said:
    @OriginalDan ... Some great chop marked coins.... I also have an 1874 CC chop marked Morgan... XF45.... Wanted one for my CC collection. Cheers, RickO

    1874 CC Morgan you say? Sounds rare!

  • kazkaz Posts: 9,064 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I saw that bust half in the GC auction, did not bid, but glad to see that you won it, Dan. Wonderful set you have been assembling for so long. Keep it up!

  • Thank you Lermish, that is a quite nice example. Interesting that it just sold recently, wonder where that example has been. Any others out there?
    Happy New Year

  • lermishlermish Posts: 1,904 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @1904vernacular said:
    Interesting that it just sold recently, wonder where that example has been.

    It is a fairly well known/documented coin. I think @ChopmarkedTrades has more details if you're curious.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Beautiful addition to a wonderful collection @OriginalDan! I love the luster and it looks like a well matched set!

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @lermish said:

    @1904vernacular said:
    Interesting that it just sold recently, wonder where that example has been.

    It is a fairly well known/documented coin. I think @ChopmarkedTrades has more details if you're curious.

    Here's the description from HA:

    Heritage said:
    1880-S Half Eagle With Chopmark

    Oriental Chopmark on a Lightly Circulated 1880-S Half Eagle. Aside from Trade dollars and the occasional Seated half dollar or Seated dollar, only a few silver coins with chopmarks exist. Virtually no gold coins exist with chopmarks, with this sharp 1880-S five dollar gold one of the few exceptions. A large and elaborate chopmark occupies the lower-right obverse field.

    From The Long Island Collection, Part IV.

    It would be great to know more about this coin.

  • DDRDDR Posts: 1,560 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wonderful group of coins, Dan! Thanks for posting.

  • LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 1, 2023 12:43PM

    @lermish said:

    @1904vernacular said:
    Anybody have any chopped U.S. gold to show?

    I was a little short on this one this but someone bought this beauty a couple of weeks ago.

    https://coins.ha.com/itm/counterstamps/tokens-and-medals/oriental-chopmark-on-a-lightly-circulated-1880-s-half-eagle/a/1351-4045.s?ic4=ListView-ShortDescription-071515



    is it just me, or is it quite odd the coin sold raw?

    edited to add: i see other items now, looks like it may have been a whole auction or section of raw counter-stamped/chopped coins. interesting.

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

  • 1904vernacular1904vernacular Posts: 34
    edited January 1, 2023 2:47PM

    @LanceNewmanOCC said:

    @lermish said:

    @1904vernacular said:
    Anybody have any chopped U.S. gold to show?

    I was a little short on this one this but someone bought this beauty a couple of weeks ago.

    https://coins.ha.com/itm/counterstamps/tokens-and-medals/oriental-chopmark-on-a-lightly-circulated-1880-s-half-eagle/a/1351-4045.s?ic4=ListView-ShortDescription-071515



    is it just me, or is it quite odd the coin sold raw?

    edited to add: i see other items now, looks like it may have been a whole auction or section of raw counter-stamped/chopped coins. interesting.

    Yes it appears it was a consignor's short collecton of raw chopped or counterstamped albeit not high grade silver & gold coins. Cool & interestingly ecclective collection . I can easily understand it being raw since they would just be in a damaged genuine holder if submitted long ago or a designated chopped or c/s holder with a grade today. But I can see the consignor passing on grading these damaged ( to most collectors) coins.

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 497 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Zoins said:

    It would be great to know more about this coin.

    It's a likely unique 1880-S United States Half Eagle that bears a large relief mark in the obverse field of the character 桂 (gwei, cinnamon, or a shortened form of Kwangsi Province). The coin was sold as Lot 6628 of the Heritage Auctions Long Beach Expo Auction of June 2000, was profiled in the May 15, 2000 edition of Coin World (reprinted in The Chopmark News Vol. 6, Issue 3, July 2000), and later appeared again as Lot 4045 of the Heritage Auctions US Coins Signature Auction #1351 (December 16, 2022), the recent sale that this post included. The mark appears identical to a chop applied to an 1872 Great Britain Sovereign that appeared in the Rose Collection and was plated in Chopmarks _(Fig. 23 and Fig. 166) and in Gullberg’s _Chopmarked Coins – A History (Fig. 126).

  • ChopmarkedTrades,
    Thanks and Happy New Year. So are there any other gold u.s. coins that are chop marked?

  • pmh1nicpmh1nic Posts: 3,137 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Does a chop mark mean the coin made the trip to Asia or did Chinese merchants, say in San Francisco, use chop marks to identify legit coins?

    The longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice is it possible for an empire to rise without His aid? Benjamin Franklin
  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'll start by saying that there's a lot we don't know about Chinese Chopmarks, so much of what we "know" is a best educated guess.

    @1904vernacular said:
    So are there any other gold u.s. coins that are chop marked?

    I've been offered a few that were described as "chopmarked" but looked more like they had picked up a distinct mark that wasn't Chinese. If there are more, they are very rare.

    @pmh1nic said:
    Does a chop mark mean the coin made the trip to Asia or did Chinese merchants, say in San Francisco, use chop marks to identify legit coins?

    A Chinese chopmark would have been stamped in Asia. It's highly unlikely any chopmark tools made it to the US.

  • 1904vernacular1904vernacular Posts: 34
    edited January 1, 2023 7:17PM

    Thank you OriginalDan. I just checked HA.com and saw that this piece did sell in 2000 for $2300 all in just as ChopedMarkTrades stated above. The 2000 HA.com description was much better with even better photos, weird. One would think today, 22 years later HA.com would be doing an even better job description and photographing wise. They even wrote up a long one page advertisement right before the 2000 auction announcing its inclusion in their auction.
    Fast forward to present and it sells for $3000 all in. Not much of an increase given 22+ years has elasped.
    Add to this your knowledge of its extreme rarity and one would think it would sell for a ton, especially since the host coin appears in very nice condition as well as a clear and intricate Chinese chop mark that is verified to be Chinese as well as documented in Mr Gullberg's more recent Chopmark book.
    Can you explain all this, very odd.
    Thank you

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 497 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd say there's still a lot that is up in the air regarding chopmarks on gold hosts; I'd argue none are considered universally agreed-upon and this piece, despite the auction record, is no different. I believe Mr. Gullberg has expressed his opinion that the shared mark on this $5 and the Sovereign counted against the authenticity of each. A lot of what goes into price on an unusual piece like this is a matter of opinion; the coin still realized a result well in excess of what the issue would have without a mark, but didn't appreciate much in the past 20+ years.



  • The above 2 photos from the Rose Book

    The above photo from the Gullberg book.
    ChopMarkedTrades said, "I believe Mr. Gullberg has expressed his opinion that the shared mark on this $5 and the Sovereign counted against the authenticity of each. "
    ChopmarkedTrades now I am really confused by what you wrote, as opposed to what you wrote previously,
    "It's a likely unique 1880-S United States Half Eagle that bears a large relief mark in the obverse field of the character 桂 (gwei, cinnamon, or a shortened form of Kwangsi Province). The coin was sold as Lot 6628 of the Heritage Auctions Long Beach Expo Auction of June 2000, was profiled in the May 15, 2000 edition of Coin World (reprinted in The Chopmark News Vol. 6, Issue 3, July 2000), and later appeared again as Lot 4045 of the Heritage Auctions US Coins Signature Auction #1351 (December 16, 2022), the recent sale that this post included. The mark appears identical to a chop applied to an 1872 Great Britain Sovereign that appeared in the Rose Collection and was plated in Chopmarks _(Fig. 23 and Fig. 166) and in Gullberg’s _Chopmarked Coins – A History (Fig. 126)."
    Are you saying that Mr Gullberg stated his opinion outside of his book in other words reversing what he wrote in his book? And that you are reversing what you wrote previously too? I guess that would explain the yawn minor price increase after 22 years and the fact that it should not go for big money since there is controversy with the authenticity of the chop mark.
    Very confusing to me, but quite interesting. Touch collecting chop marks on gold I guess.

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 497 ✭✭✭✭✭

    He made the remark outside of the book relatively recently, on a Reddit post discussing the coin; however, he also submitted bids on the coin per the same comment. I think he believes, as I do, that there are unanswered questions surrounding chopmarked gold coins, but not enough to dismiss them outright.

  • lermishlermish Posts: 1,904 ✭✭✭✭✭

    On a separate note, welcome to the board @1904vernacular , nice first posts and always nice to get another chopmark enthusiast around here!

  • @ChopmarkedTrades said:
    He made the remark outside of the book relatively recently, on a Reddit post discussing the coin; however, he also submitted bids on the coin per the same comment. I think he believes, as I do, that there are unanswered questions surrounding chopmarked gold coins, but not enough to dismiss them outright.

    Gotcha . Wonder what it would have sold for if he thought it was 100% genuine, but then wonder what it would have sold for if he wasn't the underbidder lol.
    Thank you.

  • 1904vernacular1904vernacular Posts: 34
    edited January 1, 2023 9:04PM

    @lermish said:
    On a separate note, welcome to the board @1904vernacular , nice first posts and always nice to get another chopmark enthusiast around here!

    Thank you for the warm welcome, but can't you tell that I know nothing from the chop mark realm other than for some amount of enthusiasm. The real knowledgeable/experts here are the reasons that I hopped aboard.
    However I will post a photo of my Morgan dollar that has a single c/s that I am hoping to be a Chinese chop mark.Yah gotta love controversy to appreciate this stuff.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2, 2023 6:46AM

    @1904vernacular said:

    I guess that would explain the yawn minor price increase after 22 years and the fact that it should not go for big money since there is controversy with the authenticity of the chop mark.
    Very confusing to me, but quite interesting. Tough collecting chop marks on gold I guess.

    I'm hesitant to chime in here because the buyer might be amongst us, but I'll do so to try and add insight, not to disparage the coin in any way. As one of the stronger bidders/buyers of chopmarked coins over the past 10 years, I'm a prime candidate bidder on a coin like the "chopmarked" 1880-S. I did not bid on the coin for a couple reasons. These are just my own reasons, so please take them only as that.

    • The coin doesn't make much sense to me. Silver was the metal of trade in China. We know some gold circulated, but it wasn't preferred and didn't circulate widely. This doesn't mean the coin wasn't chopmarked in China, but it's the first thing to make me hesitant.
    • We've seen two gold coins with the same mark in the same spot, with zero other merchant chopmarks on either. To me this is greater evidence the mark is more of a countermark of sorts, than a chopmark associated with trade meant to bless the coin with credibility. Chinese merchant chopmarks were usually placed haphazardly with little care to position on the coin.

    Even so, the coin could be legitimately chopped by a merchant in China but these reasons were enough to make me stand on the sidelines. And if I did, others may have felt similarly, which could be why the coin didn't see much increase in the past 20 years. With the internet, eBay, easier sharing of information and greatly increased interest, we know much more than we did 20 years ago about the populations of types of chopmarked coins and what's "normal" to see with chopmarks.

    As others just said, welcome to the forums. Please continue to ask questions.

  • 1904vernacular1904vernacular Posts: 34
    edited January 1, 2023 10:01PM

    Sure makes all the sense to me OriginalDAn, and it appears chop mark collecting is also very complicated, controversial and curious, as well as challenging ie lots of c's. I am beginning to like it, thank you for that dissertation .
    If I may I will add something that I noticed as I just now quickly compared both coins closely, although it does to appear the same or similar chop mark, one chop was chopped in a different rotation than the other. and the One chop mark also decimated the star in the $5 piece (where if it were moved to the East (no pun intended) it would have avoided the star altogether) where on the Sovereign the chop missed all devices. So there are differences although the placement is eerily similar both being to the right of the neck hair. Based on my current readings could it be an assay mark from a Chinese banker or such?
    Thank you

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @1904vernacular the stamping is a manual process, so those differences aren't notable, IMO. The stamp is essentially in the same place on the coins. There are no stars on the sovereign, so how could they be 'decimated' as you put it, on both?

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,381 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2, 2023 9:02AM

    careful about falling in love with a story with these. Many of the gold chops seem to always be on ultra common type pieces with a fake look. Tough to describe, but it appeares to me to be placed with a dealers eye and not a bullion workers. It’s complex but after handling lots of pieces one starts to see tiny patterns if they pay attention. If I had to guess the gold pieces were done by dealers in the 70s playing around but I don’t know for sure. Much like the fake chopped peace dollars they have similar chops in similar places, random is the rule with chops and anytime you see the consistency one should take note. Unequivocally the same chop on two different coins is very very rare. To me that is evidence of fakery not credence of authenticity. Most likely one bad guy had one stamp and a few bullion level gold coins lying around, nothing to lose.

    Thing about a historical hobby where much is unwritten it requires research and consensus of circumstantial evidence. Many collectors are quick to buy the story be it toning Origin, ice cream or 1844 dimes or chop marks but unless the consensus agrees you are ripe to over pay. There was a nut job on this forum (long since banned) who swore this drilled half disme was chopped marked. While as the owner he was free to believe what ever he wanted, it made him oblivious to the consensus and contrary evidence like the drill skip marks to the right of the dig. Follow the evidence and trust in the hobby’s group logic and beware of story tellers.

  • Good stuff here, and fascinating , a shame we don't have a way back machine.
    Thanks all

  • CaptainBluntCaptainBlunt Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    Crypto interesting post.
    My comments are directed at the West Coast trade with the Far East.

    I have not done any research on the Philadelphia, New Orleans or New York Assay Office side of the equation

    Genuine chopmarked Seated dollars are very rare, yet we are told over and over again that thousands upon thousands were shipped to the Far East.

    For example, regarding the 1859-S Seated dollar, auction descriptions detailing the history of these coins will state that the entire mintage of 20,000 pieces was shipped overseas , yet there are only 4 known 1859-S Seated dollars with chops.

    Others will state that the first 15,000 coins minted in May went to China while the last 5,000 minted in August stayed home.. IMO this is not true.

    I think the majority of 1859-S Seated dollars remained in SF or the US

    Most people don’t realize that when the first 15,000 1859-S Seated dollars were being paid out, over 1,000,000 Mexican silver dollars were available in SF for export to China.

    The 1859-S Seated dollars were vastly outnumbered by the competition

    In June of 1868, John Hewston Jr. a prominent figure in the SF metals trade, ex melter and refiner at the SFBM in the mid 50’s etc. stated that American silver coins including the dollar were not exported to the Far East. He noted that the coin of choice was invariably the Spanish or Mexican 8 reales. Numismatist Dec 2014 p. 53

    Was he 100% correct? No, however it is still an interesting comment from someone in the precious metals biz who was on the ground in SF during the exact time period in question

    IMO more Seated half dollars were shipped from SF to the Far East versus Seated dollars.

    I have seen shipments of at least 148,000 Seated halves from SF to the Far East during the 1850’s -early 1860’s, there were probably more.

    The 1859-S Seated dollar was shipped to China just not in the numbers quoted in the various numismatic publications

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptainBlunt your comments are spot on and the numbers you state are backed up by coins extant. We see probably 20 to 1 chopmarked seated halves to seated dollars. That number could easily be 30 or 40-1 if one were to analyze the data.

    With the 1859-S seated dollar being the first 'widely' exported silver dollar from the United States, the design would have been foreign to the merchants and bankers in China. My theory is that many were melted upon arrival, but clearly a few escaped.

  • LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Crypto said:
    careful about falling in love with a story with these. Many of the gold chops seem to always be on ultra common type pieces with a fake look. Tough to describe, but it appeares to me to be placed with a dealers eye and not a bullion workers. It’s complex but after handling lots of pieces one starts to see tiny patterns if they pay attention. If I had to guess the gold pieces were done by dealers in the 70s playing around but I don’t know for sure. Much like the fake chopped peace dollars they have similar chops in similar places, random is the rule with chops and anytime you see the consistency one should take note. Unequivocally the same chop on two different coins is very very rare. To me that is evidence of fakery not credence of authenticity. Most likely one bad guy had one stamp and a few bullion level gold coins lying around, nothing to lose.

    Thing about a historical hobby where much is unwritten it requires research and consensus of circumstantial evidence. Many collectors are quick to buy the story be it toning Origin, ice cream or 1844 dimes or chop marks but unless the consensus agrees you are ripe to over pay. There was a nut job on this forum (long since banned) who swore this drilled half disme was chopped marked. While as the owner he was free to believe what ever he wanted, it made him oblivious to the consensus and contrary evidence like the drill skip marks to the right of the dig. Follow the evidence and trust in the hobby’s group logic and beware of story tellers.

    i'm not trying to stir it back up so my comment is JUST that i remember that coin (and probably of whom you refer) and mark goodman imaged that coin, INCLUDING, out-of-this-world close-ups of that obvious drill mark. the close-up was just a testament to mark's absolute mastery of numismotography and i am glad the owner shared as many of mark's images of his coins as he did!!!

    i am NOWHERE near your level of trades or chops but i do concur with your commentary in the first paragraph and agree about those patterns of randomness being more legit than patterns of consistency. it is pretty much the top thing that stands out in my mind is just how random the placements are but also the IMMENSE diversity of chops. it really must have been a BIG thing over there for so many different ones to exist. (i guess it isn't too different than a lot of places in the world during that time frame)

    it blows my mind consistently just how many tradesmiths were in the usa and colonial times making tokens, dies, punches etc.

    thanks for sharing your years (decades?) of experience. :)

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I remember this too, the guy spent a bunch of money on the coin and for really nice photography, then came here seeking validation on the piece after the fact. Call me crazy but it's better to do your research before laying down thousands on a coin only to find out it's modern damage. Even worse, nutjob came here to "learn" but then rejected all the advice and knowledge being offered because it wasn't what he wanted to hear. Some people never learn and end up repeating the same mistakes all over again.

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 497 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd be interested in seeing more period documentation on 1859-S Seated Dollars being imported into China; I've seen the number of 15,000 being obtained for export, and the claim that 8,985 were procured by the San Francisco-based merchant house of Bolton, Barren, & Co. for explicit use in China. Also, thanks to some of the recent transcription work being conducted by members of the Boards, we've now found a series of letters sent by the Treasury to US diplomats in China, getting their opinion on the potential utility and acceptance of the type. However, I've never seen a document that confirmed just how many made it to China, only that some certainly did based on their appearance in the hands of diplomats on-site (and the survival of a small handful of chopmarked specimens).

    Wish I could find a chopmarked pre-1804 Dollar, I've been reading up on early US merchant involvement in China and it's a fascinating period.

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 497 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In the context of the diplomatic correspondence mentioned above, and the discussion on the use of foreign gold in China, I'd offer the following:

    Gold was not considered a common medium of exchange in China (for a considerable period, the overvaluation of silver relative to gold in China was one motivating factor behind the global transport of silver to that nation). Within the archives of the United States Mint is recorded a letter from the US Consulate in ‘Foo Chow’ (Fuzhou) to William Medill (First Comptroller of the United States Treasury, 1857-61) dated June 29, 1859, which gives some context on the limited circulation of gold in the area: “So few gold coins ever make their appearance here that it is impossible to give a quotation of value for them.” A similar letter sent from the US Consulate in Shanghai (dated July 25, 1859), evidently in response to the same inquiry, had a more verbose description of the local circulation of gold: “There is but very little gold coin here. It is not brought here for the purpose of trade. What reaches here, is the surplus in the pocket of the traveler and seaman. I do not think that dealers in bullion mark any definite, unchanging value upon it. It commonly passes from hand to hand, so far as I know, about the same as in the United States.” However, some functionality in foreign gold pieces was apparently recorded as a part of the many responses to the inquiry from Medill; yet another letter (from the Legation of the United States at Shanghai, dated August 31, 1859) records that such pieces were occasionally kept as curiosities, and most notably, that the price of British sovereigns had recently risen “in consequence of local demand for overland travel”, implying that some foreign gold coinage was used as a store of value by Chinese citizens, though such a practice would not necessarily encourage the application of chopmarks to gold hosts.

    I'm still of the opinion that chops on gold should be treated with skepticism (though the mark on the 1880-S $5 may be a period countermark of some sort). One interesting piece is a $20 with two assay chops that was included in the Rose Collection; I haven't seen a translation of the marks but they may be legitimate.

  • BoosibriBoosibri Posts: 11,866 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very cool coin that has turned into an educational thread

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As a follow-on to the original theme of this post, let's view more United States coins with chopmarks. These are coins I photographed for a fellow collector.

    Seated dime

    Ink chopmark on a seated dime

    Bust half

    Seated half from Philadelphia

    Neat assay chop on this Trade Dollar

    It should be noted that coins from the western mints are much more commonly seen with chops than Philadelphia or New Orleans. This makes sense given the proximity to China and the ports ships flowed through. It's always a treat to find a Philly or New Orleans minted coins with chopmarks.

  • CaptainBluntCaptainBlunt Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    IMO for what it is worth, I think that the majority of the first 15,000 1859-S Seated dollars never left SF Bay.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That could be, but I think it's just as likely that most of them did leave. My understanding is silver dollars were not all that popular in the 1850's - the gold dollar was much preferred.

    Then there's this:
    In a letter from Charles H. Hempstead, superintendent of the San Francisco Mint, dated November 18, 1858, he wrote to Director James Ross Snowden that in San Francisco:

    "We are now attracting to our shores large quantities of silver, in bars, from Mexico, for which we pay in silver coins. By reference to your letter of the fourth of August last, I find that you say that single "silver deposits may be received, but they are only payable in silver dollars or in fine silver bars." We have never received any dies for silver dollars, nor am I aware of the reason why this branch has never made that denomination of coin. I would, therefore, suggest that the coinage of silver dollars (if it be not contrary to the policy of government) would relieve us of just one-half of the labor now necessary in the coinage of large quantities of Mexican silver. (This is in reference to the coining in San Francisco of silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars. It cost nearly twice as much to coin a given amount of silver into two half dollars as it did to make one single dollar, and several times as much to coin 10 dimes.)"

    So it seems the request to mint dollar coins was due to the inefficiency of smaller coinage to pay for incoming silver deposits (ie. only silver for silver). What's not clear here, is how much of this silver was used locally vs. how much of it was just passing through San Francisco, being staged for voyage to Asia and used for trade.

    I always thought it was the latter, the silver was used for export while the gold was highly preferred locally, at least in the West. But it's hard to say.

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,381 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Haven’t you owned a couple 1859s chop marked dollars Dan?

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