A tael is a denomination of Chinese coins that is larger than one dollar. A few Chinese provinces have minted tael coins since about 1900, but most of these coins you see today are fakes. The polite name is 'Fantasy Coin' but I prefer 'counterfeit.' Unsuspecting people have purchased these large coins for large sums of money, only to find out later that they are not genuine. Bummer.
The coin in our main picture is from this thread on Coin Community forum (click here) about Chinese fakes, and CoinQuest thanks CC member dans3kgt for use of his coin photo.
In the 1970s the US passed a law called the Hobby Protection Act which required all coin replicas to carry the inscription COPY on one side or the other (not the edge). This went a long way toward stopping counterfeit operations in the US. Unfortunately, China has no such law, and counterfeiting houses are in full swing, flooding the market with fake rare coins. It is a BUYER BEWARE time in coin collecting.
If you want to buy rare coins, especially Chinese rare coins, PLEASE deal only with people you know and trust. The counterfeiters are making lots of money and they put some of that money back into making better counterfeits, so coin authentication is more important than ever. Fakes are worth zero.
If you would like a list of honest, reliable coin dealers, write to us and we'll send you our favorites. But, even, then, build up a relationship of trust with several dealers by buying low-end coins slowly at first.