LPM’s delve into Asia’s numismatc past with its ‘Dragon Dollar’ series of eight rounds is a unique opportunity to look at one of the fastest growing areas of classic numismatic collecting – late 19th/early 20th century Chinese Dragon Dollars. Beginning to command some seriously impressive six-figure prices at auction, the type is still settling down as far as definitive values go.

Many of the originals, while often produced in big numbers, are exceedingly rare, so the chance of coming across one is fairly unlikely. Fortunately, this series offers a fine chance to collect a set of reproductions of some of the rarer versions. Each of the eight carries a copy of the original reverse face and, because these are rounds that do not have to carry modern denominations,has an obverse that does the same thing. Despite being a bullion coin, these are obviously better struck, so it’s fair to say these classic dragon designs have never looked better.

The Dragon Dollars were based on the specification of the old Spanish Trade Dollar, and were formed in 27.22 grams of 0.900 silver. The modern reproduction sticks with modern specifications, and comes in a standard troy ounce of either 0.999 silver, or 0.9999 gold. Both are the standard brilliant uncirculated finish you’d expect of a bullion coin. Also now underway, is a reissue of the silver variant with an antique finish. It’s a particularly pretty version, in our opinion. Five of the eight are already out with this finish, with the rest to follow.

A later addition to the series, only one of which is available at the time of writing, is a one kilogram silver version with a mintage of just 100 pieces. Obviously, this looks to be an exceptional way to view the terrific designs the artists of over a century ago produced. The first issue – the Kiang Nan Dollar – comes well presented in a wooden box with a Certificate of Authenticity. Like the smaller versions, the date, composition and serial number are engraved on the coin edge.

A fine, limited series with a tight mintage, sensible format choice and a theme rarely seen in the bullion market. Hopefully we’ll see future delves into the regions numismatic past. Distributed by LPM, they’re available worldwide. We’ll fill in the gaps in this guide as they’re released and try to flesh out the history some more. We’ve shown both faces of the gold, the silver having an identical obverse.


Kiang-Nan province, literally ‘South of the Yangtse’, was one of China’s richest regions, and the mint located there (originally called the Nanking Mint) began striking the silver coins in the late 1890’s. They were not produced for long, just a few years, so command high prices on the collectors market.

In 1897, the Heaton Mint in Birmingham developed the original dies of a series of silver denominations for the Kiangnan Mint. The Obverse features the iconic image of a Chinese dragon coiled in a wide retrograde “S” shape with a fireball from his mouth, staring intensely out at the observer. The reverse features 4 Chinese and 4 Manchu characters, all reading as “Kuang Hsu Yuan Pao”, within a chain pattern of tiny capital “S” figures.

For the first time ever, a Chinese mint will laser etch the year, weight, mintage and purity on the rim of the coin.


Struck in 1911, the Reverse Dragon Pattern Dollar was made at a turning point in Chinese history. The Qing Dynasty, which had begun in 1644, was coming to a turbulent end — and with it, two millennia of imperial rule. A year after this coin was struck, the last emperor of China, the six-year-old Puyi, abdicated.

On the obverse, it features a regal and imposing Dragon suspended in mid-air amid wisps of clouds, a fiery pearl appears near the bottom of the design. The long wavy whiskers issuing from the Dragon’s nostrils appear like a curly moustache. Two vertical Chinese characters appear which signify the denomination (One Yuan) and in English, along the periphery, the English legend states “ONE DOLLAR”.

On the reverse, it contains an all Chinese legend. Between the outer crenulated border and the inner pearled ring, the Manchu and Chinese characters form the outer legend. Four Manchu characters appear above and four Chinese characters below which state, “Hsuen Tung, 3rd Year” (1911), and these sets of characters are separated by ornate floral sprays. The central Chinese inscription states, “Ta Ch’ing Yin Pi”, meaning “Great Ch’ing (dynasty) Silver Coin”.


Coin’s observe: Depicts a Dragon and Phoenix with the national emblem of the Twelve Symbols, also with the inscription in Chinese characters “Created in the 12th Year of the Republic of China.”

Coin’s reverse: Display the image of the Wreath of Grain, inside which is the denomination in Chinese as “One Dollar.”


Coin’s Obverse: Depicts a new-style dragon with long whiskers and the denomination “ONE DOLLAR” shows in small English characters.

Coin’s Reverse: Displays Four Manchu characters at the middle and also with flowers pattern at sides and date (The 3rd year of Hsuen Tung) below, in the center are four Hanzi characters “Silver Coin of the great Qing Dynasty”.


The China Pattern Tael Struck in Silver was issued by the Hu Poo (Board of Revenue) during the reign of Kuang Hsu, Year 29 (1903). Although struck at the Tientsin Mint, the original dies were ordered from and prepared by the Osaka Mint in Japan under the supervision of Robert Hart, Inspector General of Maritime Customs. The initial goal was an early attempt to unify Chinese coinage on the gold standard, producing denominations in 1 Tael, 5, 2, 1 and 1/2 Mace.

The project never went into full production for several reasons. One being that the outlined plan called for one central mint to be responsible for coinage production to insure the uniformity of the new coinage, which the directors of the provincial mints heavily resisted due to potential profit cuts.


This iconic design was a Dragon Pattern Dollar from the final period of the Chinese Empire and the Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty. The Central Mint in Tientsin – operated by the Board of Revenue in Peking – minted a multitude of coinage types in the later portion of the Empire, in an attempt to unify the currency system of China. Unfortunately, China’s administrative disorganization inhibited the reforms from gaining traction and thus many of the designs including this one never made it to the light of being in circulation.

The obverse design features a fearsome Asian serpentine Dragon flying over a depiction of the sea. The fiery pearl and cloud wisps invoke the powerful nature of the creature and the design has been given the nickname of 水龙 (shui long or translated in English water dragon). The upper legend states: “Made during the reign of Hsuen Tung” with seven-pointed rosettes and floral bursts found in the outer design, with the denomination of “$1” found at six o’clock.

The reverse features four Manchu characters, floral bursts at three and nine o’clock, with two Chinese characters stating “1 Yuan.” The four central characters denote: “Great Ch’ing (Dynasty) Silver Coin.”


This iconic design originates from the Hu Peh Province located in East Central China. The mint was active from the early Manchu dynasty and adapted for modern coin mintage in 1895. Specimens of the original have been known to sell upwards of $100,000USD at auctions!


The dollar was among the first milled coinage produced in Imperial China at the Kwangtung Mint. Its output was intended to replace the Spanish and Mexican 8 reales circulating in the country. To this end, these coins were at a slightly higher silver content than the foreign interlopers. Unfortunately Gresham’s Law kicked-in and the new heavier dollars were promptly hoarded or melted-down.

Despite the failure of these dollars to achieve their desired end, their design provided the standard for issues from all Chinese provinces during 1890-1907.



DENOMINATION Historic Historic Historic
COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 31.1 grams 1000 grams
DIMENSIONS 32.68 mm 40.00 mm 100.00 mm
FINISH BU BU or Antique BU
MINTAGE 100 5,000 (BU), 1,000 (Ant) 100
BOX / C.O.A. No / No No / No Yes / Yes