Tomasz sent us this picture of his old Chinese silver dollar. The thing with this dragon coin is the strong possibility that it is a counterfeit. To me it looks like it might be a counterfeit. The strike is not very crisp and clear, which is usually the give-away, but the pattern looks good. There is a good web site on this subject, click to Dragon-Dollar.info.
Look in the yellow pages or other directory and try to find a coin dealer near you. He or she can often tell you if your coin is real or fake. Look below and at this CoinQuest Page for a side-by-side comparison of a genuine and counterfeit dragon coin. One of our favorite experts on such matters is Robert Kokotailo at Calgary Coin in Canada.
The sure way to determine authenticity of a valuable old coin like this is to submit it for grading, encapsulation, and authentication to one of the following services: PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS. Look these up on the Internet. Do not use other services.
If the coin from Tomasz is real (maybe not), the catalogs quote hefty values:
worn: $200 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $700
well preserved: $1500
fully uncirculated: $2200
Use our Important Terminology page to figure out what 'catalog value' means. It is probably not what you think!
The graphic below gives a clear comparison of real and fake Chinese dollars. We have highlighted (with the arrow) one prominent problem. But the overall appearance and strength of strike makes a marked difference between the two coins.