I recently found a beautiful, slightly toned Yuan Shi Kai republican dollar while hunting for rare chinese coins. Looking more closely, one can see the signature of the engraver L. Giorgi on the coin. Specimen with signatures are very rare, and such a coin is easily worth between $4000 and $8000 USD.

Here is the coin:

Fake Yuan Shi Kai Dollar

Fake Yuan Shi Kai Dollar (obverse)

It looks great, but I soon started to have doubts about its authenticity when I got it out of its protective case: the reeded edge felt a bit too rough and shallow. Knowing that this pattern coin is very rare, I also knew the odds I found a forgery were pretty high. I therefore looked closely at the portrait and a picture of a real coin sold in a reputable auction to find if there was some visible differences.

Here is a genuine Yuan Shi Kai commemorative dollar (Kann 642a), can you spot the difference?

Genuine Yuan Shi Kai Dollar

Genuine Yuan Shi Kai Dollar

If you look closely at the signature of the engraver “L. Giorgi” on both coins, you will find that it is very well imitated, but slightly off on the fake coin. On the real one, the signature is over the 5th bead on the edge, while on the fake, it is over the 4th bead. See below:

Fake L. Giorgi signature

Fake L. Giorgi signature

Aside of this detail, the forgery was very convincing. The portrait did not show any significant difference. After a bit more research, I also found that the engraver’s signature on a contemporary Yuan Shi Kai pattern coin, the so-called 飞龙, is actually over the 4th bead. Could this coin be a mule, or a die variation?

After finding this out, I went to the Madian coin market to seek the advice of a professional coin dealer. At the first sight, he thought the coin was real. When I wanted to sell it, he went to show it to a colleague and then came back, saying it was fake. Interestingly enough, it was not the signature position that raised a red flag to them, but the relief of the coin. The real one is totally flat around the Yuan Shi Kai portrait, while on mine both sides of the portrait are not exactly of the same depth. This can only be seen by slowly inclining the coin in front of a light source.

8 Responses to “Forgeries: a very convincing 1914 Yuan Shi Kai commemorative silver dollar”

  1. wan says:

    i got one yuan shikhai coin,i think it made by copper but when i read your article,i found that my coin has tally with original one…..same date and same character…..so please feedback it is fake or not…

  2. Dragon Dollar says:

    Please send me some pictures of your coin by e-mail, I’ll tell you my opinion about the coin.

  3. Julian S says:

    Thanks for this, the coin you describe is being sold on e-bay now 170723279600 with the signature on the 4th bead. It has been getting little attnetion and only one bid……so v suspicious.

  4. Beldeu Singh says:

    Good work. Such info is importance in the interest of collectors and because there is a huge fake and forgery production in China. The positioning of L. Giorgi is not eactly the same and in the genuine coins, it is in fact very small compared to fakes. The “R” in GIORGI in the two coins is visibly different, it being more well formed in the fake. Also it is a little further away from the shoulder in the genuine coins. If you send the fakes for analysis, the silver content is totally off. Some are have negligible silver! One more pertinent point is that on the left shoulder where the chip curves upwards, the is a curve in the genuine coin whereas in the fake it is a straight line.

  5. A Justday says:

    The only questuion I have is the magnetic proerpty of the coins…Check the Size, Weight and magnetic properties…No fakes are amde of Sivler if you do the weight check!!! The facial ob servation is not correct!!! For there are so many versions of Dragon Silver Dollar Coins of 1880s – 1910..I have yet to detect a fake Silver Dollar coin so far!!! I ought to know for i ma the most avid Coin collector!!!

  6. Dragon Dollar says:

    Silver made forgeries target a somewhat higher price range coins, usually starting from $300 USD. There is a lot of silver made fake Chihli 1908 dollars, 1911 imperial dollars, or Hupeh dollars, for example.

  7. Alnison N. Bakino says:

    I have coins china yuan shi kai fying dragon, pls contact me 09*******81 from Philippines.

  8. Jose de Jesús says:

    Yo tengo una moneda con con las mismas características quisiera saber si es falsificación o es original

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