Chinese Silver Dragon Coins

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7 Mace and 2 Candareens

Dec. 21, 2007 – China only began producing mass circulation silver coins in 1889 when the first modern coining press was imported into the country. As circulated coins until then had largely been the Mexican Silver Dollar, the new coins were based on these, but with Chinese styling. The denomination used, however, was the then-standard “Mace” and “Candareens” – these being units of silver and measurable by weight. Therefore the legitimacy of the coin as being real and worth the value was obtained by weighing and measuring it – these units are the archaic version of what would now be 27.4 grams, containing 0.7814 of an ounce of silver.

Pictured is a real 7 Mace and 2 Candareens coin, which were circulated between 1898-1905 and are more correctly known as Kiang Nan Dollars. There were derivatives of these issued by other provincial governments at the time, however there are also many fakes of this type of coin, produced over the past decades. Some of these have also now become collector’s items, as in order to pass them off the silver content remains high – so they may be worth digging out at a local Chinese market. To ascertain the real thing, however, it will feel “heavy,” and accurate weighing scales would be required if you intend to uncover a legitimate example. Fakes are discernable by their price – from RMB3 each at the Panjiayuan Market in Beijing, to about US$10-15 on eBay. By comparison, the real thing will cost several hundred U.S. dollars from a reputable dealer.

This China cultural article is one of a regular series we are running at China Briefing. Conducting business in China is more than just legal and tax advise; one has to “feel” the country and its rhythms as well in order to properly advise clients on conducting business in this massive country. These China cultural articles are intended to assist with a greater business understanding of the background to doing business in China, and are provided by the research team at Dezan Shira & Associates. To view the China business cultural archives please click here.