During the troubled period of the early Republic of China, a lot of privately minted coins (私铸版) were issued by warlords or wealthy individuals either for profit or avoid currency shortages. They were made to resemble popular coins like the Yuan Shih Kai dollar or common imperial dollars, only using debased silver alloy. These copies entered circulation and were actually used as legal tender in some places nonetheless. Warlord issues therefore lies in a grey area of numismatics – some consider them as contemporary forgeries, others think of them as fantasy coins, but they are very interesting historical pieces and their popularity has been growing steadily amongst Chinese coins collectors.

One must however exerce extreme caution when collecting these coins. Warlord issues share a lot of characteristics with modern forgeries: they are basically inexact copies of popular coins made out of dubious metal alloy. In recent years, modern counterfeiters have noticed the growing interest for warlord coinage and started making their own. To sell a fake warlord version of a coin, it is only necessary to persuade the buyer that this fake coin is old, which is much easier than deceiving a collector looking for a genuine coin.

Recently, fake Warlord versions of the 1908 Chihli dollar have turning up for sale on both eBay and Chinese markets, and I thought it would be helpful to warn fellow collectors against them.

Fake Warlord Chihli dollar

Fake Warlord Chihli dollar

Fake Warlord Chihli dollar

Fake Warlord Chihli dollar

A friend of mine bought this coin last month, thinking he was acquiring an interesting warlord version of the famous 1908 Peiyang dollar. This type of coin is actually easily available on eBay, especially recently (you can see a current listing here). My friend’s coin can be easily identified as a modern forgery because the counterfeiters cut corners. The artificial aging is somewhat crude, with fake verdigris splotches on the reverse typical of modern replicas. The design of the coin would be very good if it were a genuine warlord version, and it is bound to attract the curious collector. As usual the best way to avoid being deceived is to avoid impulse buying, and research the market first.


13 Responses to “Beware of fake Chihli dollars”

  1. sultan says:

    sir ,
    pls send mail Id to responce u ,
    v r having some antiques chines coin medals ,
    how v should contact & to sell pls reply

  2. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello, you can send me pictures of your coins by e-mail, I will give you my opinion with regard to their authenticity.

  3. Sam says:

    I have a coin that said ‘Peking 7 mace and 2 candareens’ that I got in Chinatown, Victoria. I never thought it was genuine, but now it is tarnishing like silver, when it used to be in top condition. Any ideas?

  4. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hi Sam, the Peking dollar has a tormented history, and there is definitely no chance you found a genuine one in your local Chinatown. However, you may have got old of a silver-made replica. Did you weight your coin? If it weighs around 26.8 grams, it may be made out of silver. Since this coin has no numismatic value, you can also safely get the silver tested at any jeweler or pawn shop.

  5. Sam says:

    19.5 grams. I also found a Hu-Pei Province coin. It weighs 20.5 grams. I got those coins a while back, and they are fairly detailed.


  6. Sam says:

    The Peking coin is out- it’s pure steel, and very magnetic.

  7. Sam says:

    With a zinc coating, too.

  8. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hi Sam,

    The Hu-Peh province coin is most likely magnetic as well. I hope you did not pay too much for these coins. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid any coin with the following characteristics, ordered from the most egregious to the merely questionable:
    - magnetic (!)
    - bumpy or “sandy” surfaces
    - uneven rims
    - shallow edge
    - artificially toned
    - polished
    I also strongly advise you to always check that the weight is around 26.6 grams, even if this does not warranty that the coin is genuine.

  9. vanilla says:

    good day,sir.
    i have here a 34th year chihli dragon coin,
    can u inspect this for me? and give me an idea?

  10. eddy francisco cruz reynoso says:

    hola señ0r dragon yo tengo barias monedas china y non de plata pero yo ley en coniquicues que no todas las isieron de plata,ami me gustaria que uste melas abaluara por fabor hay otras de plata, bueno porfabor ebaluemelas todas

  11. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello, I would be happy to check your coin, please send clear pictures using the appraisal form here:

  12. eddy cruz says:

    senor DRAGON YO tengo varias monedas china ymegustaria venderlas les podria enviar varias foto para que me aga el favor de ebaluarmelas

  13. John Maynard says:

    I have one of these fakes, but mine is much larger rim and says COIN SILVER SANVPLE, CIRCULATION NO. I was thinking I might have some kind of mint coin. It loves the magnet! haha It was cheap.

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