"First Trade dollar was made of tin
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This little note shows that the "first" trade dollar was made of tin, not silver.

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U.S. Mint

July 11, 1873

 Hon H. R. Linderman,

Dir U.S. Mint

 Dear Sir:

I send you specimen of trade dollar in tin, struck to-day. We will commence the regular coinage of Trade $ in a few hours. The enclosed will give you a totally correct idea of the silver dollar.

 Yours very Truly,

James Pollock

Edited by RWB
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I trust all who have read your post will agree this is a correct usage of the term "specimen" as we have come to know it in numismatics.  

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On 7/10/2022 at 10:51 PM, Quintus Arrius said:

I trust all who have read your post will agree this is a correct usage of the term "specimen" as we have come to know it in numismatics.  

...only partially correct...its not a one-size-fits-all word....

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On 7/11/2022 at 9:09 AM, CaptHenway said:

Interesting that he calls it a "silver dollar."

Much of the early Trade dollar correspondence uses that language, as do newspaper articles.This seems to support the fallacy of issuing a "look alike" "name alike" coin then trying to limit it through a techno-legal restriction on legal tender limit. This little extract (July 1) might indicate general thought about the Trade dollar....

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Edited by RWB
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On 7/10/2022 at 10:51 PM, Quintus Arrius said:

I trust all who have read your post will agree this is a correct usage of the term "specimen" as we have come to know it in numismatics.  

"Specimen" merely means "an example or sample" not something special. The first silver Trade dollar was also a specimen given to Treasury Secretary Richardson.

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[I have re-visited the Periodic Table of Elements to make sense of James Pollock's choice of material.

Unknown by most numismatists, and people in general, Lithium, coming in after two gases is a metal at #3. The heaviest metal Osmium, is #76. (Why Platinum, #78, and Gold, #79 were not chosen may have something to do with their relative softness and value. Silver is #47: compare that with Nickel #28, Copper #29 and Zinc #30.  Sn, or Tin, #50, seems to have been a safe bet. But why it was chosen to produce a specimen rendering forwarded to the U.S. Mint director, remains a mystery to me.]

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To treat your comment as a serious question ---

Tin was often used for inexpensive medals and samples. It was easy to press into shape, cheap and had a stable silver-like color. Lead was also used, but it darkened rapidly and when oxide formed it looked like it had a fungus infection.

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Tin was a valuable wartime metal due to its use as an alloy metal. To this day I still save tin scraps to use for bullet casting but I admit that much of it may be wasted in the dross during the heating process. I save certain wine and bourbon caps when I find them.

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On 7/15/2022 at 2:09 PM, numisport said:

I save certain wine and bourbon caps when I find them.

Yep -- if I can remember them after emptying the bottle... :)

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