Old silver coins of China are very hard to value. Research material is not as readily available as say, American or British coins. The ancient history of the country and the extensive variety that exists within their numismatic output, makes learning about every coin ever made by the Chinese an intimidating endeavor.
Narrowing Chinese coins down to the ones made from silver will make the job a lot easier. Concentrating on old coins only shrinks the field further. What is left is still an extensive collection of coins varying in size weight and composition.
When Chinese coins were minted in silver, they traditionally have a .90 percent silver content by weight. This weight ratio is pretty standard although some early coins may have a different composition.
Coins of silver were minted in many different denominations and the weights were changed often to come in line with the cost of silver.
Several different regimes made owning silver completely illegal, several different times. Today the Chinese mint brand new silver bullion coins and the coins of yesterday trade on the open market.
One of the best places to find old Chinese silver coins is the online auction house eBay. The Internet auction site has thousands of examples for sale every day. This is also a very good place to research your Chinese coins as well. Considering the lack of available research literature, this easy to use format will allow you to do extensive research on auctions that have closed already. This provides you a with rough value guide as you can find the prices that were received for the coins sold.
For a country that started out using stones and shells for currency, the silver coins do abound within their numismatic history. They are widely collected by numismatist and investors will buy and sell circulated silver coins from china according to their spot prices.
Old Silver Coins of China hold a special appeal to many collectors today. The Internet has brought the coins of the far east to a global and constantly growing collector base. This increase in interest for these coins has begun to raise the prices for rare examples and it seems that this trend will continue.
Watch Out For Fakes
An alarming trend as of late has been the introduction of a large volume of counterfeit coins coming out of China. It seems the machinist of the world have realized they can make exact copies of silver coins from base metals. The tools of the day have made this an incredibly easy task. It is highly recommended that if your buying rare coins, you have them certified and make sure you know the seller (preferably in person, even then I would be cautious).
It's easy to lose a lot of money on one fake coin. Be careful and don't be sucked in to buying counterfeit examples of old silver Chinese coins.