1878-S Trade Dollar. MS-66 (PCGS). CAC. This handsome and originally toned Gem trade dollar has rich olive-gray, champagne-pink, antique gold and powder blue patina. Intense mint luster shines under a light, enhancing the eye appeal. The strike is sharp and the preservation is excellent as would be expected for the impressive MS-66 grade from PCGS.The trade dollar was introduced in 1873 as a replacement of the standard silver dollar which ended production that same year. The new trade dollars, intended for international commerce, were heavier and clearly stated the quantity and fineness of the silver they included, which at the time equaled $1.02. The coin achieved some measure of success abroad as testified by the large number of surviving examples that bear Chinese chopmarks, a form of private guaranty mark that the coin was genuine and of good silver. In 1876 silver prices dropped sharply so that a trade dollar contained only 91¢ of the metal. This price collapse prompted Congress pass the Act of July 22, 1876 which demonetized the trade dollar for domestic use (before then, the coin had seen some limited use stateside). Even with this law, production continued apace for overseas use, and almost ten million trade dollars were struck at San Francisco in 1877. Treasury Secretary John Sherman was opposed to the trade dollar and on February 22, 1878, he ordered its production stopped and the presses be dedicated to striking the new Morgan dollar introduced required by the Bland-Allison Act. After 1878, the trade dollar would only be struck Proof format and only at Philadelphia until it was officially discontinued in 1883 (the 1884 and 1885 Proof trade dollars were coined under unclear circumstances).By the time Shermans February order to stop trade dollar production was received at the San Francisco Mint, 1,695,819 pieces had already been coined. Production continued until April as the Mint still had bullion deposit orders for the coins that were required to be met. The final mintage at San Francisco for 1878 equaled 4,162,000 pieces. As with the earlier issues, most of these coins were overseas, primarily in Asia where they were eagerly accepted in commerce. While a large number were melted overseas, some returned to the United States where it is believed that many were likely melted at the San Francisco Mint. Most of the surviving extant examples bear chopmarks (sometime called shroff marks); far fewer have been saved in Mint State. Fortunately, the 1878-S is one of the most widely available trade dollar in Mint State, albeit mostly at the lower half of the scale. The issue emerges as a significant rarity in the finest Mint State grades with barely two dozen finer than Gem. This coin is certainly among the finest of these pieces and its exceptional technical quality and eye appeal are certain to attract attention from advanced numismatists. From Heritages Long Beach Signature Sale of September 2002, lot 7272; Heritages Palm Beach, FL Signature Sale of November 2004, lot 7652.