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You will be surprised by these Ancient Chinese Coins

These Chinese coins will surprise you when you learn about their history and the value they can have.

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Monedas Antiguas Chinas

For luck, collect them, because they are valuable or rare. These are some of the reasons why ancient Chinese coins are so sought after.

In this article we make a rest of everything you need to know if you are interested in Chinese coins, both old and new.

Of course, you will find information about  Chinese silver coins , other materials and the famous one tael. This coin attracts the attention of many because of its history.

Come with me and discover everything about ancient Chinese coins and their value.

Ancient coins from China, history and value

Coins, as a form of value exchange, are intrinsically linked to the history of China as almost any other country in the world.

The use of  metal coins in China  begins around the spring period of 770 BC, and the ancient Chinese paper coins date back to approximately 960-1127. In other words, the appearance of paper coins occurred very early in Asia.

But here we are more interested in the knowledge of the  ancient Chinese metal coin .

The oldest Chinese coins appeared under the end of the Shang Dynasty (1975 BC – 1029 BC) and were known as shell coins made of copper. This milestone marks the  beginning of Chinese numismatics , since from this moment on there were always Chinese metallic coins.

There are many truly valuable Ancient Chinese coins, but they are not the ones you can buy at the corner market.

 Ancient Chinese copper coins  evolved from the famous “huan money” and most of them have a very characteristic shape. They are round coins that have a square hole in the center.

Chinese coins cash
Chinese coins cash

Round Chinese coins with a square hole are also known as Chinese cash. The originals are made of brass, copper or iron, which were the materials traditionally used in China to mint ancient coins.

The coins were marked with the title of the region of the different dynasties, and this is a good way to identify the period in which they were minted and their real value.

A curiosity you may not know is that the  shape of the ancient Chinese coins  is due to the belief that the sky was round, while the earth was square. So the coins represented the world from a Chinese point of view.

There are also  Chinese coins in the shape of a hoe and a knife , although these are very rare and, therefore, an original can be found, possibly very valuable for any collector of ancient Asian coins.

Chinese silver coins were introduced from the Ming Dynasty (1836-1644), but they should not be confused with the well-known one taels, about which I write later.

The oldest Chinese ring or circular coins are those with the inscriptions “Yuan” and “Gong”. They were probably minted between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.

In case you are wondering, I answer:  Chinese gold coins  were never minted.

Price of Ancient Chinese Coins

Ancient Chinese coins can have different prices, according to their real value, but also to whether they are authentic or not. I am telling you this because all around the world, in establishments run by Chinese people, supposedly valuable Chinese coins are sold that are not really so.

Many are  counterfeits of real Chinese coins .

To find out if an ancient coin is real there are several methods that I tell you in another article, but the most common of all is to bring a magnet and verify that the coin is not attracted by it.

Fake coins wouldn’t be worth anything, but you are interested in knowing about  valuable old Chinese coins and their price , right? Or at least, the price range of the Asian coins, to know if it is worth the effort to buy or sell them.

Well, the price of ancient Chinese coins can range from zero to several thousand dollars in case they are original, ancient and really valuable.

How do you know if an ancient Chinese coin has value?

You can start by consulting our guide to identify the value of ancient coins, or consult a numismatic expert in the field. However, you will most likely need someone specialized in ancient Asian coins, which is difficult to find in Europe or the United States.

Chinese tael coins

The tael is a unit of weight used in many East Asian countries, and is equivalent to approximately 40 grams. This weight is precisely what many ancient Chinese coins had, hence they are known as  Chinese tael coins .

In the history of China we can find coins with 40 grams, a teal, but most ancient Chinese coins do not reach this weight.

Within the known tael coins, the most sought after, or at least the most striking, is the  ancient Chinese silver coin  one tael.

Chinese silver coins began to be produced when China’s trade with other nations was regularized, and ancient Spanish silver coins minted in Mexico began to arrive in the country. This happened at the end of the Ming Dynasty.

Spanish and Mexican silver coins were very popular in the Chinese markets, so Qing started minting Chinese silver dollars. Ancient Chinese silver coins imitated foreign silver dollars.

After the Opium War, the monetary system based on the ancient Chinese tael currency went into crisis, so in 1887 Guang Xu approved the construction of a mint in Guandong to mint Chinese silver coins with a dragon design.

The Chinese silver coins, just like the American dollars, used the Spanish silver dollar. From 1909, Chinese coins were issued in 1 dollar, half a dollar, 1 quarter and 1 tenth dollar denominations.

The old Chinese silver coin that had more circulation was the 2 cent unit. This was due to the fact that it had similar measures to the previous coins known as wuzhu.

Anyway, the  old Chinese silver coins are very valuable  for collectors interested in Asian numismatics, although I must tell you that they are not as popular as the old Mexican, Spanish and American coins.

Ancient Chinese coins 1861 – 1908

Among the most sought after and famous coins in Asia are the  ancient Chinese coins 1861 – 1908 .

Chinese currency 1861 - 1908
Chinese currency 1861 – 1908

These Chinese coins are not as expensive as you might imagine, but they are very popular. They have an allegorical design that represents one of the 12 emperors of the Qing dynasty.

It is a coin built in white metal, and imitates the old style of Chinese coins.

To have a coin from 1861 – 1908 with some value, you should buy it preferably in its protective plastic box. However, as I told you before, do not expect them to be worth much because they are not circulating pieces.

The 1861-1908 Chinese coins were minted as a fantasy for tourists and are very common and of little collectible value.


Collecting Asian coins, and particularly ancient Chinese coins can be an exciting and challenging world for those of us living in the West.

I hope this article, where I share how little I have learned about Chinese numismatics, will help you take your first steps.

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Arulnathan Anthonysamy

    August 9, 2023 at 3:43 PM

    I have old coin, Kiang Nan province 7 mace and 2 candareens

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