The Chinese name for a round coin. See Yuan Fa.
In the early Chinese coinage the word Yuan meant a round coin with the central hole double the width of the field. See Huan and Pi.
The name is now given to the silver Dol- lar. This word, used as such, appeared first on the British Hong Kong Dollar of 1864. The present issue of Chinese Dol- lars introduced in 1914 are specifically known as Yuans, or Yuan Dollars. There are subdivisions of halves, fifths, and tenths. The Japanese for Yuan is Yen.
The same sound, yuan, but written with another character, is used on some of the modem copper and silver coins to desig- nate the cash.
See Tael, Liang, Candareen, Mace, Ch' ien, and Fen.
Source: Frey's Dictionary (American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 50, 1916)