Collecting China Silver Dollars & Paper Money
A Collection of History

The Opium War (1840 to 1842) put an end to Ancient China. From then on, China was gradually transformed from an imperialistic, agrarian society to an industrialized democratic republic. Below is a selected set of five silver coins circulated in modern China that demonstrates the changes of that period and the evolution from local hand made pieces to machine struck national legal tender in just one century.

After the Opium War, Western merchants poured into China and their coins flooded into the Chinese Market, U.S. dollars, such as Morgan Dollars are a testament to early Sino-American trade. They also influenced the development of modern Chinese coinage.

The Chinese struck their first coin, the Dragon Dollar in 1890. The image of this coin glorified the emperor's heavenly mandate of complete and autocratic control of China.

After the fall of the Ching Dynasty in 1911, minting was subsequently taken up by the make-shift local military government. A rare sample of this, the Szechuan Han Dollar is included below.

These local coins were replaced when the notorious Yuan Shi-Kai seized power and issued a coin bearing his image. The Yuan Shi-Kai Dollar thus became the first national legal tender coin of the Republic of China.

To China's fortune, Yuan died just months after installing himself as emperor. The striking of the San Yat-Sen Founding of the Republic Dollar demonstrated popular support for the Founding Father's democratic principles. The Junk Dollar of the same period acknowledged the significance of Western influences.

The historic importance presented by these well-known Chinese silver dollars cannot be underestimated. The value of these unique coins to collectors can only continue to grow with the passage of time.

The First Modern Circulation Coin

The Dragon Dollar, the first machine-struck silver dollar in Chinese coinage, was issued during the reign of Emperor Kwang-Hsu (1875 to 1908). It was cast by Canton Mint in Kwantung Province the southern port of China for Western merchants.

Before the circulation of the Dragon Dollar, trades in China used to be conducted through the exchange of silver Taels which had to be weighed on each purchase. After the Opium War (1840 to 1842), Western merchants with their coins began to appear in China. The convenience, beautiful designs, and assigned values of the foreign coins, plus the heavy losses caused by the exchange of the Chinese 100% pure silver Tael for these coins containing only 90% pure silver, forced the Chinese to reform their coinage.

Realizing that the outgoing of large amounts of Chinese silver was causing China serious economic problems, Lin Cher-Hsu, a provincial governor suggested to Emperor Tao-Kwang (1821 to 1850) that China should make their own machine-struck silver dollar, but it was rejected. Later, Chang Chi-Tung, the governor of Kwangtung, and Kwansi Provinces, made the same suggestion to Emperor Kwang-Hsui, and it was approved. In 1890, the Dragon Dollar was officially issued.

The production of the Dragon dollar changed the traditional Chinese coinage in three ways. First, the coin was machine-made instead of hand-made. Secondly, the silver was struck into a circular coin instead of a shoe shaped ingot. Thirdly, the design of the coin was changed; in the middle of the coin there was no longer a square hole which had existed in Chinese Copper Coins since the Ching Dynasty (221 to 207 B.C.).


The year of 1911 is an important milestone in Chinese history. The 1911 Revolution, a modern democracy movement in China, broke out in that year and rocked the entire world.

The Founding Father, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen put forward his political goal against the Ching Dynasty and led the revolution to overthrow the feudal monarchy in China.

On January 1, 1912, the provisional government of the Republic of China was founded in Nanking and Dr. Sun was sworn in as the provisional President. On February 12, the last emperor of the Ching Dynasty was forced to abdicate the throne. From then on, the concept of the modern democratic republic became deep-rooted in Chinese culture.

The Szechuan Han Dollar, issued by the military government in the Szechuan Province during the early years of the Republic, is the one that symbolized this important turning point in Chinese history. The Szechwan Han Dollars were struck in 1912 and 1914 at the Szechuan Mint. The mint was founded in 1896. All of its machines and dies were made in New Jersey and Philadelphia in the United States. During the early years of the Republic, the Szechuan Mint struck the Szechuan Dollars that were circulated with a face value of one dollar.

The Szechuan Han Dollar was created along with the birth of the Republic of China. A large character Han, symbolizing the idea - drive out Manchurians, and restore China - could be found on the obverse. The Szechuan Han dollar was well received by the public and circulated in Southwest China. It had been almost 100 years since this dollar was first issued and it has become rare and precious.

the First National Coin of the Republic of China

The Yuan Shih Kai dollar, known as the Yuan's Head, was circulated in China during the early year of the Republic.

Yuan Shih-Kai was an influential figure in China at the turn of the century. After the Wuchang Uprising broke out in Hupei in October 1911, the Ching court reluctantly selected Yuan as the prime minister. Later, Yuan forced the Ching emperor to abdicate the throne and forced Dr. Sun Yat-Sen to surrender the position of the provisional President to him. At the end of 1915, Yuan declared that the monarchy would be restored next year. Due to the strong opposition across the country, Yuan had to declare in March 1916 that he abandoned the title of Emperor and that his presidency would be maintained. He died of anxiety and fear in May of that year.

Yuan Shih-Kai exerted tremendous influence not only on the political development of modern China but also on the country's economic and financial development. One example is the currency during the early years of the Republic.

The new coin was cast following the adoption of certain regulations. After the design was approved by the President, they were struck at all major mints across the country. The weight and purity of the new coins were uniform, 7.2 mace and 90% (later 89%), respectively. These coins were struck in 1914, 1919, 1920, and 1921.

This coin, commonly known as Yuan's Head became popular across the country because of its uniformity, new design, and standardized purity. The issue of Yuan's Head met the need for a unified state currency in the industrial and business development during the early years of the Republic. This was further ensured by the executive order of the government. The Yuan's Head gradually replaced the Dragon Dollar and foreign silver coins in China.

Founding of the Republic

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866 to 1925) the George Washington of China, is highly esteemed by the Chinese in both Taiwan and mainland China. He spent his childhood in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was influenced by Western Civilization. In the early 1890's Dr. Sun dedicated himself to the anti-Ching Dynasty rebellion. In 1911, the Ching Dynasty was overthrown and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China.

In honor of his great contributions to the establishment of the republic, Chinese people respectfully called him the Founding Father. In 1912, Nanking Mint issued a silver dollar, Sun Yat-Sen Founding of the Republic, with his image on the obverse. The second issue of this coin appeared in 1927 and became the national legal tender coin of that time.

The Founding Father Dr. Sun Yat-Sen passed away some sixty five years ago. The silver dollar Sun Yat-Sen Founding of the Republic should always remind us of his dream of liberty, equality and fraternity and his devotion to the realization of the dream.

A Mini-Biography of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen

As a well-known political giant in the world, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen has numerous biographies written in six different languages. None of them, however, is so vivid and portable as this mini-biography - the Junk Dollar that was issued during the early years of the Republic of China. The Junk Dollar, a nickname for the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Commemorative Coin, was issued in 1933 and 1934. After the Northern Expedition (1926 to 1927), the Chinese government decided to replace Yuan Shih-kai Dollars with a new coin portraying Dr. Sun.

The design of the new national coin was not determined until 1933, when the Ministry of Finance promulgated the regulations on the state currency of the Republic of China. The new coin was cast by the Shanghai Mint. The obverse was a profile of Dr. Sun, and the reverse had a junk sailing on the sea. The characters - Yi Yuen (One Dollar) - were engraved on both sides of the junk.

The new dollar soon became popular. It first replaced the Yuan's Head, the Dragon Dollar, and foreign silver coins, it then replaced other Dr. Sun commemorative coins. Therefore, the Junk Dollar carved an extremely important niche in the modern history of Chinese coinage.

The Junk Dollar is not only a circulating coin, but a portable biography that vividly tells the experience of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. The sea and ship were part of Dr. Sun's life, since he spent a large amount of time travelling on the ocean, living overseas, establishing anti-Ching Dynasty organizations and leading in other revolutionary activities.

The design of the sailing ships on the sea was brand new in the history of Chinese coinage and is especially related to the personal adventures of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. The Junk Dollar also reveals the experience of the Chinese people in modern times; The hope of China lies in it's joining the rest of the world, and the changes in China rely on the Chinese being awakened by the world.

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China Paper Money

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China is fast emerging as one of the World Super Powers. I believe Chinese pre-communist paper money is going to have a tremendous price advancement over the next few years. many wealthy Hong Kong and mainland Chinese citizens are now collecting and hoarding pre-communist paper money. All of the China money in the China Set are crisp uncirculated and from 1914 forward. Whether you can only afford a few China banknotes or only 1 or 2 sets, this China crisp like new banknotes will not last long, so get yours while the prices are still affordable and it's available. Many of the China notes are fast disappearing from world dealer inventories. A word to the wise is always sufficient.

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