whats the deal with opium dollars? real or marketing hype?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by goldrealmoney79, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. goldrealmoney79

    goldrealmoney79 Active Member

    Were opium dollars authentic to the time period? or were they made up make believe to sell people on these trade dollars?
    I know they were supposed to be used for holding opium, but you rarely see them with much if any wear on them. and then other ones appear to be used as a locket.
    In addition, rarely do the die markers match up on these opium dollars and they look like theyre made from 2 separate coins.

    Here is the only worn example ive ever seen

    Here is another example being sold with the photo inside

    So whats the deal with them? Were they just lockets and story got changed over time? or were they originally used for opium and then became lockets? or was it all just marketing hype?
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Great question for sure! I can tell you this, if someone was truly hooked on opium do you really think that individual would be happy with maybe a quarter gram of dope maximum? :smug:Besides, opium mainly came from China in the 1800's so don't you think the opium coins should be Chinese? Just a couple of thoughts! :D Honestly, I think it's all a crock!! :meh:

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    I think it's all bunk. As far as I can determine, there was no reason to hide opium in the US during the era of the trade dollars, and as said above, the amount you could keep in there would be minuscule. The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act wasn't enacted until 1914. In Asia, where lots of trade dollars circulated, the opium story is more complicated, but they didn't need to hide it there either. Here are some actual opium boxes, from the opium museum in the Golden Triangle area of Thailand.

    Attached Files:

  5. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    The amount of opium you could hide in a box dollar might get you one dose. Why bother. Especially since up until 1914 you could legally go to the pharmacy and buy as much as you wanted legally over the counter. Opium, cocaine, heroin could all be purchased legally.

    I would say that most if not all box dollars were made to be lockets with a photo or keepsake inside. And yes they were made from two separate coins.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page