15 Most Valuable Old Chinese Coins: Complete Value Guide

Are you fond of collecting old coins from a long coinage? There’s no better option for you than ancient Chinese coins.

Not only have the Chinese somehow managed to preserve their coinage history, but the majority of the old coins cost much higher than face value.

Nearly every old Chinese coin not in circulation is worth serious money. The collectible coins started to get attention more recently than their counterparts. Collectors are keen to pay extreme amounts for the 1800s & early 1900s coins.

That’s why you should know which ones to focus on from the start. We would like to help you obtain relevant and valid data.

Check out the list of 15 valuable old Chinese coins below.

Valuable Old Chinese Coins

15 Most Expensive Old Chinese Coins Worth Money

Chinese coinage is almost 2400 years old, going back to ancient Roman times. Because Chinese people managed to preserve the coinage history rather well, a staggering amount of the oldest coins still exist.

Surprisingly, many collectors prefer more recent ones instead of the early coins. Many would believe the bizarre-shaped prehistoric coins are pretty collectible, but their popularity seems confined to China only.

We prepared a list of the most valuable Chinese coins based on selling price, from high to low.

Coin Name
L&M-1031 – Zhang Zuolin
P$1 – L&M-47
P$10 – KM-Pn50 K-1515a – L. Giorgi
K-690 L&M-962 – Chu Yupu
P$1 – Ming-1092
K-677 L&M-958 – Civilian
R – P$1 – KM-Pn98 L&M-91 K-614a
$1 – KM-Pn3 L&M-585
K-678 L&M-959 – Military
P$1 – KM-Pn48 L&M-943 – L. Giorgi
K-676 L&M-864 – Reeded
K-683 L&M-865 – Duan Qirui
P50C – KM-PnA146 K-625k
$1 K-4g L&M-324 – Bi Pao 粮 Chop
P$1 – K-642a L&M-859 – L. Giorgi

Don’t lose yourself amongst the maze of numbers, initials, and names. Too many variations in design, type, and version lead to an extensive number of collectibles. And so, the coin industry is incredibly complex.

Concentrate on the years and grades first. This should help you discern the valuable coins more efficiently. From a cursory glance, only MS (Mint State) and SP (Specimen) are record-selling coins.

Notice, almost all of the expensive Chinese coins belong to the early 1900s. To be exact, eight of the 15 coins were minted during the 1920s. Only one Chinese coin from the mid-1800s managed to enter the list.

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1. 1927 L&M-1031 – Zhang Zuolin

Year: 1927
Original Price: $539,032
Top Grade: SP-64+
Selling Firm: Bonham’s
1927 L&M-1031 - Zhang Zuolin
1927 L&M-1031 – Zhang Zuolin (Source – Bonhams)

Only two of its kind are known to exist, greatly increasing the coin’s value. The obverse of the coin portrays Zhang Zuolin, the warlord of Manchuria. An image of the warlord in full military attire appears within the scrolling borders of the coin.

#2. 1912 P$1 – L&M-47

Year: 1912
Original Price: $345,000
Top Grade: SP-58
Selling Firm: Champion
1912 P$1 - L&M-47
1912 P$1 – L&M-47

A Chinese firm made headlines with its record-breaking sales in 2015. Not much is available on its picture or details.

#3. 1916 P$10 – KM-Pn50 K-1515a – L. Giorgi

Year: 1916
Original Price: $282,000
Top Grade: SP-63
Selling Firm: Heritage Auctions
(1916) P$10 LM-1028 K-1515a L.Giorgi (Special Strike)
(1916) P$10 LM-1028 K-1515a L.Giorgi (Special Strike) (Source – PCGS)

This is another gold coin specially minted for collecting purposes only. There is a flying dragon on its reverse accentuating the obverse portrait. The well-preserved condition of the coin with little mintage skyrocketed the coin’s value.

#4. 1927 K-690 L&M-962 – Chu Yupu

Year: 1927
Original Price: $336,000
Top Grade: SP-62
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1927 K-690 L&M-962 - Chu Yupu
1927 K-690 L&M-962 – Chu Yupu (Source – PCGS)

This commemorative coin celebrates Chihli governor Chu Yu-pu’s anniversary. There are two crossed flags on the reverse. Nice preservation of the details with the silverish appeal is extremely hard to find, making this coin only more valuable.

#5. 1920 P$1 – Ming-1092

Year: 1920
Original Price: $262,900
Top Grade: SP-64
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers

This purely gold-minted coin from the early years possesses significant value.

#6. 1923 K-677 L&M-958 – Civilian

Year: 1923
Original Price: Original Price: $120,000
Top Grade: Top Grade: MS-65
Selling Firm: Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1923 K-677 L&M-958 - Civilian
1923 K-677 L&M-958 – Civilian (Source – PCGS)

The coin portrays Tsao Kun in civilian attire, reflected in the name. The silver illustrates a lovely obverse patina against a hazelwood reverse. Lustrous detail with strong die polish features a bold, intricate design.

#7. 1929 R – P$1 – KM-Pn98 L&M-91 K-614a

Year: 1929
Original Price: $119,500
Top Grade: SP-63
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1929 R - P$1 - KM-Pn98 L&M-91 K-614a
1929 R – P$1 – KM-Pn98 L&M-91 K-614a (Source – PCGS)

This coin is an extremely rare specimen containing Italian A. Motti’s signature. The obverse portraits Dr. San Yat-sen against a floating boat reverse; the silver holds a desirable grayish wispy toning.

#8. 1896 $1 – KM-Pn3 L&M-585

Year: 1896
Original Price: $200,000
Top Grade: SP-60
Selling Firm: N/A
1896 $1 - KM-Pn3 L&M-585
1896 $1 – KM-Pn3 L&M-585 (Source – PCGS)

Not much info is available for this darkened brass coin from the 1890s. However, the Heilungkiang coin is rather the collectible with intrinsic cultural details, and very few well-graded versions are in existence.

#9. 1923 K-678 L&M-959 – Military

Year: 1923
Original Price: $204,000
Top Grade: MS-65
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1923 K-678 L&M-959 - Military
1923 K-678 L&M-959 – Military (Source – PCGS)

This commemorative coin pictures Tsao Kun in military attire. Its silver surface holds a majestic appeal with a dazzling luster, and the vibrant gem dollar is an uncirculated version of its type without any specimen.

#10. 1916 P$1 – KM-Pn48 L&M-943 – L. Giorgi

Year: 1916
Original Price: $179,250
Top Grade: SP-61
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1916 P$1 - KM-Pn48 L&M-943 - L. Giorgi
1916 P$1 – KM-Pn48 L&M-943 – L. Giorgi (Source – PCGS)

This rare silver coin features Yuan Shih-kai with a king-like attire in the obverse while a flying dragon with shiny details covers the reverse. Only two coins in recognizable condition exist in private collections.

#11. 1921 K-676 L&M-864 – Reeded

Year: 1921
Original Price: $264,000
Top Grade: MS-64
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1921 K-676 L&M-864 - Reeded
1921 K-676 L&M-864 – Reeded (Source – PCGS)

Lightly-colored garnet with sapphire toning makes this coin incredibly special. The obverse mirrored field just precisely portrays Hsu Shih Chang, while the pavilion-typed legend in the reverse seems like no other.

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#12. 1924 K-683 L&M-865 – Duan Qirui

Year: 1924
Original Price: $504,000
Top Grade: MS-65
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1924 K-683 L&M-865 - Duan Qirui
1924 K-683 L&M-865 – Duan Qirui (Source – Lot-art.com)

This coin commemorates the peaceful unification of China with Tuan Chi Jui and possesses extreme rarity with an almost near-perfect detail. The gold shield features a radiant, lustrous, and attractive toning.

#13. 1935 P50C – KM-PnA146 K-625k

Year: 1935
Original Price: $136,880
Top Grade: SP-61
Selling Firm: Ding Fong
1935 P50C - KM-PnA146 K-625k
1935 P50C – KM-PnA146 K-625k (Source – PCGS)

Another special version from the junk dollar series makes a stand. This low-grade SP managed to exceed $0.1M at a local auction. The central surface looks good against a radially worn-out border.

#14. 1853 $1 K-4g L&M-324 – Bi Pao 粮 Chop

Year: 1853
Original Price: $119,500
Top Grade: MS-55
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1853 $1 K-4g L&M-324 - Bi Pao 粮 Chop
1853 $1 K-4g L&M-324 – Bi Pao 粮 Chop (Source – CoinWorld)

The number of mintage coins is extremely low due to the seizure of production after an uprising. Simple yet extinct details make the coin worth its cost. Thus, it belongs to a particular ‘Genuine’ grade under MS-55.

#15. 1914 P$1 – K-642a L&M-859 – L. Giorgi

Year: 1914
Original Price: $114,000
Top Grade: SP-66
Selling Firm: Stack’s Bowers
1914 P$1 - K-642a L&M-859 - L. Giorgi
1914 P$1 – K-642a L&M-859 – L. Giorgi (Source – stacksbowers.com)

This silver-made sublime gem portrays Yuan Shih-kai in a feathered hat. Its vibrant and blazing surface details hold a splendid appeal. To add, only five well-graded examples are currently in existence.

The associated numbers of coins refer to numerical identification and are necessary due to the existence of multiple varieties and counterfeits.

You may notice that the original price differs from the tabulated price. Original Price refers to the Selling Value at auctions, but the tabulated price represents the Possible Approx. Values in today’s market.

Another important factor concerns the pictured coin grades mentioned above. We included the best-quality pictures available for your understanding. Low-graded coins should have more deterioration.

Why are Old Chinese Coins So Valuable?

Collectible Chinese coins started to make headlines more recently. Originally, international auctions based on Chinese coins were scarce. Only local auctions & slight HK-based (Hong Kong) trades took place.

Luckily, Stack’s Bowers and Heritage Auctions, in addition to some other noteworthy Chinese auctions, stepped up, and that’s when well-preserved old Chinese coins started to gradually increase in values.

We’ve already mentioned the issues regarding original and current prices. The auctioning market of the Chinese coin keeps gaining momentum.

Chinese coins are significantly more subject to change than others. For example, one $20K-priced coin can immediately skyrocket from $40K to $50K. On the other hand, coins may substantially decrease in value due to several reasons.

Fake Old Chinese Coins

One main way to get cheated on with your old Chinese coins is through counterfeit. Rare Chinese coins are abundantly available in China. You can very likely waste a good amount without knowing the real deals.

So how can you tell if ancient Chinese coins are fake? Unfortunately, there’s no direct answer to this bewildering question. You just have to stick with trustworthy auction houses and some select few reliable dealers only.

Dive into the guidelines on identifying fake ancient coins. Coin Coin and All Your Coins provide a brief description of actionable steps. Don’t forget to look into the informative Victor-Li’s article either.

Also, check out the enjoyable article from The Spruce Crafts. It uncovers many exciting details of a Chinese coin counterfeiting ring. Pictures with valid information should keep you entertained, at the very least.

You can also easily detect some counterfeit coins by their new state. That’s also where you may get deceived by those so-called high-graded coins.

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Another interesting article can help you with discerning counterfeited coins is NGC Coin, which lists the top 25 old Chinese coins prone to fakes.

How to Identify Old Chinese Coins?

Identifying an old Chinese coin to determine its value is no simple task. The coin lineup is so long that it appears almost impossible for the average collector.

In fact, even experts find themselves at a loss over many aged-out coins. In comparison, it’s relatively easy to track down more-recent coins (1800s or 1900s).

Check out the Calgary Guide to identify odd-shaped old Chinese coins. SportsTune features a page on coin identification in 3 different parts.

Also, you should check the Chinese Coin Index at Calgary Coin. The webpage enlists every specific coin type, starting from 700 BC to 1911 AD.

Are you wondering what the symbols and inscription on the coins mean? Knowing the symbols & inscription is another method to identify the genuine coins.

Primal Trek has a lengthy but easy-to-understand guide on this subject. Exploring the article will inform you about the meanings of the engraved texts.

Remember, older isn’t always better. You’ll definitely get some cash from older coins, but keep the expectation low for the especially old ones.

Another webpage to gather crucial info with many important references is the Wikipedia page on old Chinese coins.

Joels Coins is yet another site to debrief you on ancient Chinese coinage. Additionally, you can check the Ancient Chinese Coin Website for more information.

Additional resources like books can aid you as well- check the Old Coins of China or Catalogue of Chinese Coins.

Old Chinese Coins Value

Are you ready to explore the real values of authentic Chinese coins? Or you can’t wait to evaluate the real-life values of your current collection? Well, we got both bad and good news for you.

PCGS holds the largest database on collectible paper money and metal coins, where you can find a whole section on old, rare, and valuable Chinese coins. That’s the good news for now.

However, you’ll have to go through about 44,708 different Chinese coins, which costs you significant time and effort. Some coins even lack sufficient and sometimes crucial information.

Where to Buy Old Chinese Coins?

Beware of the counterfeits to avoid spending money on worthless metal scraps. The chances of finding authentic coins are low in online shops, so you shouldn’t fall for fancy reviews or collections.

You can look into eBay, Etsy, Carousell, Collectors Weekly, Collectors, Vatican. We’re not saying that the options are fake. Rather, we wish for you to keep an eye open while buying coins.

Fortunately, well-known auction sites don’t let fakes enter the collection. Check out Stack’s Bowers, Live Auctioneers, London Coins, Barnebys, Heritage Auctions.

Wrapping Up

You must keep several crucial factors in mind when approaching rare Chinese coins. It’s no easy task to evaluate a Chinese coin yourself.

However, the detailed 15 valuable old Chinese coins above should make it easy. The right step can win you some well-worth money or collectibles.

What do you think about the identity of old Chinese coins as valuable collectibles? Make a comment to let us know your coin types, collection, and prices.

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