Some readers have asked which dragon dollar is the most popular amongst collectors. The most famous chinese silver dollar from the late Qing era is most likely the Y31 silver dollar, colloquially referred to as “宣三” in China. It was minted in 1911 (3rd year of the rule of Xuan Tong) at the Central Mint in Tianjin. It was the last imperial coin issued before the regime was toppled by the Xinhai revolution. The design of this chinese silver dollar is considered by many collectors to be the most beautiful, and it is also the only imperial chinese coin bearing the “ONE DOLLAR” face value to have been circulated. While not rare by any measure, the Y31 dollar has seen its market value rise steeply in recent years due this popularity.

Y31 Chinese silver dollar

Y31 Chinese silver dollar

This dragon dollar was issued by the central authority, which means it had standardised weight, metal composition and design, but there exists nonetheless three die variations of this chinese coin.

The most commonly seen is called “浅版” in China, or “shallow strike version” (see below). Since it was struck with old dies, the details of the design are less clear in this version than in early ones. By looking carefully at the DOLLAR word on the reverse, one can see that the R was repaired by adding back a missing leg. It is labelled as “w/o Flame, w/o Dot” by PCGS:

Y31 Chinese silver dollar - "shallow" version (浅版)

Y31 Chinese silver dollar - "shallow" version (浅版)

The earliest version is called “深版“, or “deep strike version”. The details of this version are very sharp, the R in DOLLAR is still intact, and an additional spine which was lost to weak strike or die deterioration in subsequent versions is still visible at the tip of the tail of the dragon, across the cloud. While this version is only slightly scarcer than the 浅版, it is usually more expensive due to its popularity. This coin is labelled “Extra flame” by PCGS, due to the “additional” spine at the end of the tail of the dragon:

Y31 Chinese silver dollar - detailed version (深版)

Y31 Chinese silver dollar - detailed version (深版)

The last version is actually a restrike of the 浅版. In the years following the 1911 revolution, old dies were reused to issue new coins and avoid currency shortages. The already well worn dies of the 浅版 Y31 were briefly reused to mint the Y31.1 dollar, much scarcer than the earlier “official” issues. The only difference with the original dies is the addition of a dot after the word “DOLLAR“. Similar alterations were done to other revolutionary restrikes, like the 1904 Kiang Nan dollar with dots in the denomination.

Since the Y31.1 dollar is much more rare and expensive than other versions, many unscrupulous coin dealers or counterfeiters have tooled genuine dollars to add a silver dot, thus instantly doubling their profits. Most of these coins have been polished or cleaned first, though, to make the modification less obvious.

It is therefore advised to avoid buying cleaned or polished Y31.1 dollars. Genuine coins from the type “dot after dollar” (带点) were all made using the “w/o Flame, w/o Dot” 浅版 dies, so they have the same characteristics: fixed “R”, unclear details, and one spine less on the dragon tail. Uneven toning around the dot should be considered with extreme suspicion. A dot on a “Extra flame” dollar is a certain indication of tooling. Once again, be careful when buying chinese coins!

Y31.1 Chinese silver dollar - with dot after "dollar"

Y31.1 Chinese silver dollar - with dot after "dollar"

35 Responses to “The most popular chinese silver dollar?”

  1. armando says:

    I have eleven silver coins…. Do you know,, who is interseted in them????

  2. BAPE says:

    Can you please pinpoint where the extra spine on the dragon tail is? Thanks for your help.

  3. Dragon Dollar says:

    The extra spine is the rightmost one, going through the cloud. I can upload a picture if necessary!

  4. Evan says:

    I have a Y31.1 Chinese silver dollar – with dot after “dollar” how much would this be worth i can show pictures

  5. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello, you can send me pictures of your coin using the appraisal form:
    The value of a coin does vary strongly according to both its eye appeal and condition.

  6. Edward says:

    Dear Dragon Dollar:

    I just purchased a china dragon coin. However, i don’t know that is real or not. I already sent 6 pictures to you. you can share the pictures to someone. Besides, if you need more picture, let me know, i will take more. Please use your professional idea to judge the coin.

    Thank you

  7. lewis says:

    wat is the value

  8. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hi Lewis, currently a Y31 Imperial dragon dollar is worth about ¥2,000 RMB, or about $325 USD at current exchange rates.

  9. Đông đô says:

    Tôi có 44 đồng one dollar con rồng y31 năm 1911 hiện tôi ở pt vinh nghệ an việt nam . Ai có nhu cầu sưu tầm xin liên hệ đt : 0912221007 mail: ******

  10. sainorsang says:

    hi dragon dollar i have some of y31 dragon dollar i don’t know it fake or not and i want to sale it i will sent to you some of pictures can you let me know it fake or not?

  11. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello, you are welcome to use the appraisal form:
    I will check the pictures you send me and tell you my opinion about the authenticity of your coins.

  12. may dyna says:

    i have dollar old coin dragon1903..and 1876 liberty seated.someone who knows want to buy this..

  13. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello, you can send me pictures of your coins through the appraisal form:
    I can provide you with an estimation of their value and my opinion with regard to their authenticity.

  14. isabel says:

    Gentlemen: I have two 34th year old kuang hsu coins. I’ve cleaned one and left the other untouched. Was it wise to clean the coin?

  15. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello Isabel, cleaning coins is not a good idea if you want to sell them. Collectors pay the most for untouched coins, and by cleaning it the coin may have lost half of its value. You can submit pictures of your coins with the appraisal form:
    I will look at the damage, and if by chance you have an interesting variety, it may still be worth an interesting amount of money.

  16. mansoor says:

    Dear, I have a 1895 US coin and a 1898,1804 can u tell me how to sell it?

  17. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello Mansoor, first I would advise you to get your coins graded by PCGS – this will both guarantee to your buyer that your coins are genuine, and increase their liquidity on the market. When your coins are graded, I suggest you list them for sale on both eBay and specialized collectors forums. Good luck and don’t hesitate to ask for more information.

  18. Anonymous says:

    ciao ,vorrei informazione .ho la stessa ugualissima moneta . cosa dovrei fare .mi potrebbe chiamare su questo , numero .327172491per un consiglio grazie.

  19. carl says:

    hi,i have one coin simply like this chinese empire silver dollar Y-31 and its is ‘shadow” version. Can i send to you the picture image for you to verify.

  20. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello Carl, you can use the appraisal form to send me pictures of your coin:
    I will be happy to help you verify its authenticity.

  21. mr Rahmat says:

    I have 1 coin same like this … shuld i sell this coin at auction web?

  22. saksy pby says:

    I have one dollar chinese in 1911 i want to buy this coin for more detail please @me in facebook name: saksy pby

  23. saya punya uang logam seperti gambar di atas siapa yang berminat…boleh?

  24. anthony says:

    I have a dragon dollar that has it’s o missing from the word dollar. DLLAR. Any ideas?

  25. Boris says:

    Hi I have 1 dragon dollar, I would like to sell it.where I can send photos ?

  26. Anbukumaran says:

    Dear Dragon Dollar
    I have a dragon coin but it not a silver. It’s looking like copper coin. It’s real or fake. If real, how do I want to sell it.

  27. Vas says:

    Hi I have one of this 1911 Chinese dollar and I will like to have a confirmation if you think is good or not . Thank you

  28. I have one silver coin and one silver dragon not sure that my coin is real or fake.So where can i find solution.if anybody wants more detail, search me @FB ( ).

  29. lyn says:

    I have a 1911 long whiskers dragon dollar that is missing the o in dollar it seems to be real sliver but you can never tell may be fake but I cant find anything on a fake one or an error other than the r was repaired.

  30. Andy says:

    very interesting article. I wonder if the ‘extra flame’ on the coin means there is an extra pinky flame on the rightmost side of the tail? it took me a while to realize it.

    Also, on pcgs I notice there are (1911) $1 LM-37 and (1911) $1 LM-37 w/o Dot & Flame. Are they the same thing or slightly different from each other?

  31. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello Andy, I’m glad my article was useful to you. You are absolutely right about the extra flame location: it is on the rightmost side of the tail, and sometimes indeed barely visible! The PCGS “(1911) $1 LM-37″ type is also called “extra flame” (or 深版), while the “(1911) $1 LM-37 w/o Dot & Flame” is the 浅版 presented above (no extra flame, repaired R in DOLLAR). None of these two versions have the extra dot after dollar, which is only observed on the much rarer Y31.1 type. Hope this helps!

  32. Andy says:

    I’m trying to find info about the inscriptions on the top of the reverse of the Y31 coin and I can’t find any information on it. Does it translate to anything or is it a design feature?

  33. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello, the manchu script on the Y31 (and other coins from the same era) simply translates to “Silver coin of the Great Qing”.

  34. Andres says:

    Great work!. Thank you for share your time and knowledge.

  35. Maynard says:

    My grandmother just found dragon one dollar coin
    While gardening and i weigh it is 27 grams i dont know if it is real but you can help me then i clean it with a toothpaste

Leave a Reply