British trade dollar
The British Trade Dollar features a dramatic standing Britannia design by George William De Saulles. Some 270 million pieces were struck over a forty-year period from the mid 1890s for circulation in the Far East and, although its popularity waxed and waned, it seems to have met the needs of those who lobbied for its introduction.
The Museum collection contains a number of specimens of the coin but because it is a Mint collection, containing many trials and patterns, care has to be exercised in avoiding easy assumptions about the nature of particular items. For example, while not obvious from its appearance, the coin illustrated here turns out to have been struck in 925 silver whereas British dollars were issued with a silver fineness of 900. Precisely why this trial or pattern piece was made is not entirely clear but it acts as a warning that some items may be more unusual than they at first seem.