One Dollar 1897, Coin from United Kingdom - detailed information

One Dollar 1897, Coin from United Kingdom (demonetised 1937)
CoinOne Dollar 1897

The British Trade Dollar was a form of bullion coinage issued by the United Kingdom and intended to facilitate foreign trade in East Asia.

The years between 1875 and 1895 saw a rapid fall in the price of silver, which apart from disrupting trade also resulted in a serious shortage of minted dollars. To overcome this shortage, approval was given in 1894 for the minting of these British Trade Dollars, for general use in the Far East.

The coins were designed by designed by George William de Saulles and depict on their obverse a the figure of Britannia standing on shore, holding a trident in one hand and balancing a British shield in the other, with a merchant ship under full sail in the background; this is instead of the British monarch as would normally be the case on British coinage, in order to make them acceptable outside the British Empire. On the reverse is an arabesque design with the Chinese symbol for longevity in the centre, and the denomination in two languages - Chinese and Jawi Malay.

In 1895, the British Trade Dollar was given legal status in the British colonies of Straits Settlements, Hong Kong and Labuan. Its circulation in the Straits Settlements and Labuan was of short duration; after the Straits Settlements introduced their own Straits Dollar in 1903, the British Trade dollar was demonetised there in 1904 and 1905 respectively. It became exclusively a Hong Kong coin produced until 1935. Thus, it was known as a Hong Kong Dollar for most of its existence, and was only legal tender in that colony for most of the time.

Note that many of the genuine dollars are found with "chop marks" - small Chinese ideographic marks punched by local banks and counting houses to signify a coin was checked by them. The practice was prohibited in Hong Kong and eventually fell into disuse. These marks are considered to not detract from the value of the coin; on the contrary - many collectors appreciate them as a piece of history.

The British Trade Dollar was finally demonetised in Hong Kong on 1 August 1937.

MintBombay Mint Mint MarkLetter B Total Mintage21,286,427 (21.3 million)
United Kingdom / One Dollar 1897 - obverse photo

Surrounded by an "Oriental"-style border with a "key" pattern, the obverse of the coin shows the standing figure of Britannia - the female personification of Great Britain, holding a trident in one hand and balancing a shield with the British Union Jack flag in the other, her cloak billowing in the wind behind. She wears a crested Corinthian helmet pushed back to reveal her face.

Britannia is standing on a sea shore, with a merchant ship under full sail in the background.

Around left and right, the value of the coin: · ONE DOLLAR ·. In the field beneath Britannia's bare feet, the date of issue: 1897.

The mint mark of the Bombay Mint is a tiny letter B incuse in the middle prong of Britannia's trident. Some coins have no mint mark but this is due to a minting error (defective dies) and is not an indication that the coin was struck elsewhere.

Obverse Inscription · ONE DOLLAR · 1897
United Kingdom / One Dollar 1897 - reverse photo

Surrounded by an "Oriental"-style border with a "key" pattern, the reverse of the coin depicts a scroll design divided into four compartments containing, in the upper and lower, the Chinese characters 壹 圓 (transcribed as "yat yuen" or "yi yuan"), and in the left and right compartment ساتو رڠڬية - transcribed as "satu ringgit" from Jawi (Malay language written in a modified Arabic script). Both inscriptions are translated as "one dollar".

At centre, the Chinese labyrinth symbol representing longevity.

Reverse Inscription 壹 圓 ساتو رڠڬية
EdgeMilledEdge InscriptionNone

The mintage figure shows the number of coins produced during the accounting year 1897/98 (1st April of one year until 31st March of the next), and does not necessarily correspond to the number of coins struck with the same date on the obverse.

References to additional information:

[Book] Kavanagh, Kevin. 1969. The Coins of Malaysia, 1845-1967, including Straits Settlements, Malaya, British North Borneo, Sarawak, Brunei, Singapore, British Trade Dollars. Adelaide, Australia. pp83-87
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., pp85-87

One Dollar 1897: Known varieties
Variety No mint mark
Mintage Issued: unknown (included in total). Rarity: R (Rare)
Variety 1897/6 Overdate
Mintage Issued: unknown (included in total)
Variety Proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
One Dollar 1897: References to Information Used
The Coins of Malaysia 1969 Mintage
All (23) Coins of Country: United Kingdom, Type: Trade Dollar
Coin NameMintageLegend
One Dollar 1895 3,316,063 · ONE DOLLAR · 1895
One Dollar 1896 6,135,617 · ONE DOLLAR · 1896
One Dollar 1897 21,286,427 · ONE DOLLAR · 1897
One Dollar 1898 21,545,564 · ONE DOLLAR · 1898
One Dollar 1899 30,743,159 · ONE DOLLAR · 1899
One Dollar 1900 9,469,991 · ONE DOLLAR · 1900
One Dollar 1901 27,198,656 · ONE DOLLAR · 1901
One Dollar 1902 31,671,117 · ONE DOLLAR · 1902
One Dollar 1903 3,955,647 · ONE DOLLAR · 1903
One Dollar 1904 648,847 · ONE DOLLAR · 1904
One Dollar 1907 1,945,726 · ONE DOLLAR · 1907
One Dollar 1908 6,870,741 · ONE DOLLAR · 1908
One Dollar 1909 5,954,218 · ONE DOLLAR · 1909
One Dollar 1910 5,552,910 · ONE DOLLAR · 1910
One Dollar 1911 37,470,509 · ONE DOLLAR · 1911
One Dollar 1912 5,672,075 · ONE DOLLAR · 1912
One Dollar 1913 1,566,693 · ONE DOLLAR · 1913
One Dollar 1921 50,211 · ONE DOLLAR · 1921
One Dollar 1925 6,869,853 · ONE DOLLAR · 1925
One Dollar 1929 5,100,036 · ONE DOLLAR · 1929
One Dollar 1930 17,065,897 · ONE DOLLAR · 1930
One Dollar 1934 17,335,205 · ONE DOLLAR · 1934
One Dollar 1935 6,811,995 · ONE DOLLAR · 1935
UK coin dealer supplying high quality and carefully graded antique coins to the discerning collector
UK coin dealer supplying high quality and carefully graded antique coins to the discerning collector
One Dollar 1897: Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Coin TypeTrade Dollar
EffigyBritannia, Standing
Face Value1 (x Pound)
Mintage21,286,427 (21.3 million)
CurrentNo; demonetised 1937
Material0.900 silver
DesignerGeorge William de Saulles
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size39.000 mm
Thickness2.700 mm
Mass29.957 g
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One Dollar 1897: Photos
Coin - 1 Dollar, Malaysia, 1897
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Coin - 1 Dollar, Malaysia, 1897
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
One Dollar 1897: Catalogue Reference IDs
SourceReference ID
Krause, Standard Catalog of World CoinsGreat Britain KM# T5
Schön, WeltmünzkatalogMalaysia Schön# A1