I feel your pain. Getting dollar sized "chinese" (perhaps the term "Chinoise" would be more accurate) is getting tougher. However, the following sources are still good, as far as I know: (please let me knopw if I'm misinformed)
They sell a nicely designed coin made from pewter at www.sterlingmagic.com.
These are a little thick in the half dollar size, but the dollar size is nice. They have a little trouble stacking silently, as I recall.
I believe Sasco also produces a "coin" (More like the "brass washer with the characters" you mentioned in your post) I'm assuming you're refering to the old style of johnson Chinoise coins. The more recent Johnson's seem pretty good.
I have found good ones at markets in Chinatown, believe it or not. They are sold on a chain, and are jewelry, or ornaments of some sort. These have the advantage of being very thin, and with a little work, they stack silently.
Of course, if you're tired of faking it, contact the Man, Todd Lassen. (KLARENTZ@aol.com
) I mentioned this to him once, and he showed me three dollar sized AUTHENTIC Chinese coins. They were about 400 to 500 years old, and were very cool. Todd is a master craftsman, but is also amazing at finding rare coins. Drop him a line.
Hope this helps, good luck!