Glo sent us this picture of her trade dollar from Japan. Normally these coins catalog around $500 US dollars in worn condition and rise to several $1000s of dollars with little or no wear, as follows:
worn: $400 US dollar approximate catalog value
average circulated: $1100
well preserved: $1500
fully uncirculated: $2500
You can see from the picture that Glo's specimen has almost no wear, so it might be a very valuable coin.
Note that these values are catalog values. Please refer to our Important Terminology link at the left to understand what 'catalog value' means. It is somewhat of a weasel word!
In a related appraisal of another Japanese coin, we discussed how to establish the relationship between Japanese dates and Western dates. The coin in the picture is dated 1876, Meiji 9.
Counterfeiting has always been a problem with rare and valuable coins, but it has come to full force in recent years due to a massive influx of fakes from unrestricted counterfeiting operations, mostly in China. If you are a well-financed crook, you can hire counterfeiting shops that turn out high quality fakes. This is very likely the case with Glo's trade dollar.
Counterfeit detection and rare coin authentication is a very technical science with only a few truly knowledgeable people in the entire numismatic (coin collecting) enterprise. Experts in the field use technical indicators such as microscopic examination, specific gravity measurement, and guarded diagnostic databases to authenticate collectible coins.
In Glo's case, she should send her coin to PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS, the major numismatic grading services (easily found on the Internet) who employ authentication experts. This will finalize the answer to any question 'is my coin genuine or counterfeit.'
But we can tell a lot by looking closely. The picture below shows a side-by-side comparison of a genuine Japanese trade dollar and Glo's coin. CoinQuest thanks Bowers and Merena Galleries of Irvine, CA for use of their image of the genuine piece.