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1910 Chinese Yunnan Spring Dollar

With only two specimens known to exist, the Yunnan Spring Dollar is considered among the very rarest of Chinese coins.

One coin sold for $1,035,000 at a Hong Kong auction in August 2010.  The only other known specimen is scheduled to be auctioned in September 2011.

As you might expect, there is a great deal of excitement and publicity concerning this upcoming auction since it is not likely that either of these coins will be available again to collectors or museums for many years or perhaps even generations to come.

Besides their rarity, one of the main attractions of these coins has to do with the reference “spring” dollar.  These are the only coins in Chinese history to include a season in the inscription and it has been considered a mystery as to why this was done.

Chinese Yunnan Spring Dollar

Chinese Yunnan Spring Dollar

At the left is the Yunnan Spring 1910 Silver Dragon Dollar which was auctioned last year.  I personally consider this coin to be the more visually appealing of the two even though its “official” grade (“AU55 NGC”) is slightly below that of the coin (“AU58 NGC”) to be auctioned next month.

The four large Chinese characters at the center of the coin read xuan tong yuan bao (宣统元宝) which means it was minted during the reign of the Xuantong Emperor (1908-1912) also known as “The Last Emperor”.

The denomination of the coin is written at the very bottom as ku ping qi qian er fen (库平七钱二分) which is “Treasury Standard 7 Mace and 2 Candareens”.  In English, the coin is usually called a “dollar”.

The Chinese inscription at the top reads geng xu qun ji yun nan zao (庚戌春季云南造) which translates as “made in Yunnan Province in the spring of the year geng xu (1910).”

The official announcement for the September auction emphasizes the mystery concerning the inclusion of “spring” in the coin’s inscription:

“This enigmatic issue, one of China’s rarest coins (and with only two genuine pieces known), has been a coin of mystery and legend since its discovery, around 1920.  Although there has been constant research in Chinese numismatic circles, over time, no definite reason, or meaning of the term, “Spring 1910″, has yet been discovered.”

Unfortunately, this is not quite correct.

Reverse side of Yunnan Spring Dollar

Reverse side of Yunnan Spring Dollar

According to several Chinese websites including the “Baidu Library” (百度文库), which is the online encyclopedia maintained by China’s major search engine “Baidu” (百度), the reason that “spring” was included in the inscription is as follows.

The coin is intimately connected with the monetary reforms which were taking place in China at the time.  On April 15, 1910, the Qing Dynasty government promulgated “Currency Regulations” (币制则例) in order to standardize the minting of the silver coinage of the country.  The authority to mint silver coins was taken away from all provinces and consolidated at the mint in Tianjin.  However, since China covers such a vast area, it was not considered practical to have all silver coins made at one mint and therefore branch mints were established at Hankou, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Yunnan.

The new regulations required the silver dollar coins to be of a uniform design, purity, weight and size.  Since this was not the case with the coins that were being minted at the four branch mints, these mints were ordered to cease production and await further instructions from the Tianjin mint.  The branch mints were also to wait until they received the new standardized dies before resuming production.

However, a few of the branch mints, for selfish reasons, refused to cease the minting of silver coins.  The Yunnan branch took dies that had been used to make the 1909 coins and engraved at the top the additional inscription “made in the Spring of 1910”.  According to the traditional Chinese calendar in use at the time, “spring” referred to the first three months of the year, namely, January, February and March.  In this way, the Yunnan mint attempted to circumvent the new regulations by saying that the coins were made before April of that year.

The Chinese central government discovered the scheme at the Yunnan mint and ordered that all these new coins be withdrawn and melted down.  However, a very very few of the coins escaped being destroyed and these are the specimens that are now known as the Yunnan Spring Dollars.

Thus, the “mystery” surrounding the appearance of the word “spring” on these coins is a mystery no more.

{ 55 comments… add one }
  • Andrew December 7, 2011, 6:42 pm

    I have a silver coin identical to this except instead on the back around the top it has 6 characters instead of 7 do you know if this has any value it is 999 silver. Thank you very much can’t wait to hear from you.

    • Gary Ashkenazy December 8, 2011, 8:49 am

      Hi Andrew,

      I sent you an email requesting additional information to help identify the coin.


  • beth white January 17, 2012, 8:08 pm

    I have coin that looks like that one. How do i find out information on it.

  • mazlan January 25, 2012, 7:20 pm

    i think i have one coin.

  • mazlan January 25, 2012, 7:29 pm

    i already checked, the coin i have is 1906 szechuan 10 cash.

  • Mollie March 7, 2012, 12:13 am

    I have an identical one from the picture above. Could mind be “real” because it looks very real after 100x of carefully looked. Please tell me.

    • Gary Ashkenazy March 7, 2012, 9:33 pm

      Hi Mollie,

      I will email you requesting additional information.


  • lee February 27, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Hallo ich habe 3 solcher münzen eine wie oben in silber yun- nan,
    eine mit foo-kien und eine andere nur mit mustern und chinesischen zeichen aber alle drei aus silber

  • Laura Thrash June 19, 2013, 2:34 pm

    I have a coin like this I got when I was in Taiwan in 1992. Mine has two dragons on front. It has 6 characters on top and 4 on the bottom.

  • Phil September 27, 2013, 8:37 pm

    I have a coin tray that is similar to the one above. It is marked Yun-Nan Province 3Mace and 6 Candareens. Around the coin is fine filigree work in silver in the shape of a dish and approx. 4 inches in diameter. Looking for information.

    • Gary Ashkenazy September 27, 2013, 10:57 pm

      Hi Phil,

      I will email you for additional information.


  • sumit November 19, 2013, 5:03 am

    I have a silver coin identical to this except instead on the back around the top it has 4 characters instead of 7 do you know if this has any value it is 999 silver. Thank you very much can’t wait to hear from you.


    • Gary Ashkenazy November 19, 2013, 7:26 pm

      Hi Sumit,

      You probably have this version of the coin which was made in 1909.

      An authentic coin weighs about 26.56 grams, has a diameter of 38 mm, and a fineness of 88%. It should not be attracted to a magnet.

      This version of the coin is not rare.

      Unfortunately, I do not know coin prices so I cannot tell you its current value.


  • sumit November 20, 2013, 1:14 am

    with my online research,I found Numista Rarity index: 92 rated for this coin.
    Kindly get back to me
    can I get any amount if i want to sale this further.

    • Gary Ashkenazy November 20, 2013, 8:45 am

      The “Numista Rarity index: 92” refers to the very rare “1910” version of the coin which I write about in my article.

      Your coin is the common “ND (1909-1911)” version. The “ND” refers to “No Date”.

      I do not know current prices of coins. However, the Sixth Edition of the “Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Gold & Silver Coins”, which is a few years old now, gives the following prices for your coin:

      Fine: $40
      Very Fine: $80
      Extremely Fine: $350
      Uncirculated: $1200

      Please be aware that there are many fakes of this coin.


  • Tony Audette February 27, 2014, 9:01 pm

    I have a coin that looks like the example shown of the yun nan province 7 mace and 2 candareens coin. It seems to be in too good a shape to be so old, was this coin ever remade?

    • Gary Ashkenazy April 13, 2014, 9:25 pm

      Hi Tony,

      The coin was never officially remade.

      However, fake copies of this very famous coin are extremely common and can be bought for a dollar or two.


  • Elain Rodriguez April 13, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Hi Gary,

    I have a coin similar to the one on the picture, after researching on line I believe it is a fake based on the characters on the back of the coin. But before I give up on it. Could I send you a picture of it, it was my father’s he has passed away and as I was cleaning up some of his things I came across this coin. Thank you for your time.


  • Leslie May 6, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Hi Gary, I have coin Yunnan 7 Mace and 2 Candareens but with twin dragons which different from the image above. Is that fake or real? thank

    • Gary Ashkenazy May 23, 2014, 10:25 pm

      Hi Leslie,

      If you email me clear images of the coin I will try to help you.


  • Judith Dupree August 23, 2014, 11:58 am

    Greetings from Florida.
    I came across 7 coins, 7 mace 2 canareens, that belonged to my mother. They are in a collector’s case (plastic, each one stored separately). 3 are from Hu-Peh Province and the other 4 are from Yun-Nan Province. They are in very good shape and as my step-father collected rare coins I believe they are genuine.
    I don’t know anything about coins (especially ancient Chinese ones!) and wondered if you could tell me how to go about getting information as to their value, if there is any. Any information will be very much appreciated. I found these today, on my birthday, and think this is a final gift from my Mother who died 13 years ago. Thank You very much. Judi Dupree

    • Gary Ashkenazy August 23, 2014, 8:51 pm

      Hi Judi,
      I’ll email you requesting clear images of the coins.

  • suryacarlos September 16, 2014, 6:10 pm

    how can I find out more information, it looks like I have 1 coin like this ..

  • Jeff Wyder September 19, 2014, 12:48 pm

    I have a coin identical to the one pictured, but more worn. How do I go about verifying its authenticity?

    • Gary Ashkenazy September 24, 2014, 7:58 pm

      Hi Jeff,
      I will email you requesting additional information.

  • Deanna Conn October 25, 2014, 6:11 am

    found a coin like the picture above requesting information about the coin .

    • Gary Ashkenazy October 28, 2014, 4:37 pm

      Hi Deanna,
      I will email you for additional information.

  • John Sprague November 30, 2014, 7:56 pm

    I have several coins, Chinese all have Coin Silver Sanvple, Circulation No. Some haveYun-Nan Province, 7 Mace and 2 Candareens. Some have the same lettering except for the Province which is Hei Lung
    Kiang. Can you shed some light on these coins? Any help will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    • Gary Ashkenazy December 1, 2014, 4:11 pm

      Hi John,
      I will email you requesting images.

      • Haldun ARKIN December 13, 2014, 3:41 pm

        7 mace and 2 candareens yun-nan province ( please e mail adress )

  • Andy January 10, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Hey, I’ve received a coin similar to the coin that’s is described but it has four characters on it and it’s gold. Can you please tell me whether this is a fake or real?

    • Gary Ashkenazy January 11, 2015, 10:30 pm

      Hi Andy,
      I will email you requesting images of your coin.

  • Tom Kujawa March 2, 2015, 1:05 pm

    I also have a coin as others. Would like to know if it is worth something.
    Thank You.

    • Gary Ashkenazy March 2, 2015, 3:39 pm

      Hi Tom,
      I will email you for additional information.

  • ts lem April 2, 2015, 9:58 am

    Hello Garry
    I have 3 old coin
    kiang nan province 7 mace and 2 candareens .

    Please sent me your email. I forward pictures to you .Thank you


    • Gary Ashkenazy April 2, 2015, 9:16 pm

      Hi TS Lem,

      I just now sent you an email.

      Please check to see if your coins are attracted to a magnet.

      Also, please provide the weights of your coins in grams.


  • Nelson Zweck April 6, 2015, 6:17 pm

    I have some old silver Chinese coins measuring about 45mm in diameter and with only Chinese writing – no dates. May I send images to you?

    • Gary Ashkenazy April 6, 2015, 8:12 pm

      Hi Nelson Zweck,
      Yes, please send the images and I will try to help you if I can.

  • Shreyas June 4, 2015, 7:04 am

    I have a coin which has all written in Chinese and I want to know the value of it in inr. Can I know plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • Santa Maria ledbetter June 28, 2015, 3:12 pm

    I have a
    Silver dollar COIN.
    Can you tell me how can I have it appraised…….or …..where can I go to see the authenticity of this COIN.
    In Columbus ohio

    • Gary Ashkenazy July 8, 2015, 1:43 pm

      I’m sorry but I am not familiar with any Chinese coin dealers in Ohio.

  • Frandy pranandha July 23, 2015, 7:56 am

    Hy Gary.

    I have 2 coin, may i send the picture to ur email directly so u can check it?
    Many Thanks.

  • Macy August 18, 2015, 12:54 am

    Hi Gary, I have one as well. Can I get your advice as well?

    • Gary Ashkenazy August 18, 2015, 8:18 pm

      Hi Macy,
      I will email you for additional information.

  • Sumit agarwala August 20, 2015, 9:04 am

    I also have a coin identical to above.. Please help

    • Gary Ashkenazy August 21, 2015, 12:08 am

      Hi Sumit Agarwala,
      I will email you requesting additional information.

  • John pang August 29, 2015, 12:29 pm

    Hi Gary

    I have yunnan coin with twin dragons. Can I know any information about it?



    • Gary Ashkenazy September 4, 2015, 8:50 pm

      Hi John,
      I will email you for further information.

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