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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Asian Coins| ▸ |China||View Options:  |  |  | 

Coins of China

The earliest Chinese proto-coins, as early as 770 - 476 B.C., were imitations of the cowrie shells used in ceremonial exchanges. The first metal coins, also introduced in this period, were not initially round; instead, they were knife shaped or spade shaped. Round metal coins with a round hole, and then later a square hole, in the center were first introduced around 350 B.C. The beginning of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 B.C.), the first dynasty to unify China, standardized coinage for the whole Empire. At first, coinage was limited to use around the capital city district but by the beginning of the Han Dynasty, coins were widely used for paying taxes, salaries, and fines. Ancient Chinese coins are markedly different from coins produced in the west. Chinese coins were cast in molds, unlike western coins which were typically struck (hammered) or, in later times, milled. Chinese coins were usually made from bronze, brass, or iron. Precious metals like gold and silver were uncommonly used. The alloys of the coin metals varied considerably. Most Chinese coins were produced with a square hole in the middle. At the mint coins were threaded on a square rod so that the rough edges could be filed smooth on a lathe, after which they were threaded on strings for ease of handling. Official coin production was sometimes spread over many mint locations throughout the country. Aside from officially produced coins, private coining was common during many stages of Chinese history. At times private coining was tolerated, sometimes it was illegal. Some coins were produced in very large numbers. During the Western Han, an average of 220 million coins a year were produced. Some other types were of limited circulation and are extremely rare today.

China, Qing Dynasty, De Zong, The Guangxu Emperor, 1875 - 1908

|China|, |China,| |Qing| |Dynasty,| |De| |Zong,| |The| |Guangxu| |Emperor,| |1875| |-| |1908|, |10| |cash|
The Guangxu Emperor, De Zong, was the tenth emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, under Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898. He initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he was put under house arrest until his death.
CH89424. Bronze 10 cash, Coins in the Collection of Shanghai Museum, Vol. 6, 2169 (5.0g, 25mm, similar thick rims); cf. Hartill 22.1275 (smaller), VF, rough fields and file marks (normal for the type), weight 4.565 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 0o, Bejing, Board of Revenue mint, c. 1875 A.D.; obverse Guang Xu tong bao, protruding head boo, thick outer rim; reverse Boo Chiowan (Board of Revenue), thick outer rim; rare; $85.00 SALE |PRICE| $76.50
 


China, Western Han Dynasty, 206 B.C. - 25 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Western| |Han| |Dynasty,| |206| |B.C.| |-| |25| |A.D.|, |5| |zhu|
Wu-Shu (5 zhu) denomination was issued from 118 B.C. to 220 A.D., with additional varieties perhaps as late as 600 A.D. Dated molds have been found, and the calligraphy and other features changed over time, making it possible to more precisely date some examples.
CH86004. Bronze 5 zhu, Hartill 8.5, VF, earthen encrustation, weight 3.636 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, 115 - 113 B.C.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu), crossing lines of wu straight, square top to zhu, filed edges, no inner rim; reverse plain; $6.00 SALE |PRICE| $5.40
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Hui Zong, 1101 - 1126 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1101| |-| |1126| |A.D.|, |cash|
Huizong, one of the most famous Song Dynasty emperors, spent most of his life surrounded by luxury, sophistication, and art, but ended in tragedy. An artist, Huizong neglected the army, and Song China became increasingly weak. On Jan 18, 1126, after the forces of the Jin had crossed the Yellow River and came in sight of the Song capital, Kaifeng, Huizong abdicated in favor of his son Emperor Qinzong. The Jin entered Kaifeng on Jan 9, 1127, and many days of looting, rapes, and massacre followed. Huizong and Qinzong were captured and demoted to commoner. Huizong was deported to northern Manchuria, where he spent the last eight years of his life as a captive.Huizong
CH87038. Iron cash, Hartill 16.502, Schjoth -, Fisher -, weight c. 3.6 g, maximum diameter c. 25.5 mm, 1119 - 1125; obverse Xuan He Tong Bao, Slender Gold script; reverse plain; aF or better, quality varies, some with edge chips, some with thicker rust, similar to the coins in the photograph, ONE COIN; $5.00 SALE |PRICE| $4.50
 


China, Western Han Dynasty, 206 B.C. - 25 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Western| |Han| |Dynasty,| |206| |B.C.| |-| |25| |A.D.|, |5| |zhu|
Wu-Shu (5 zhu) denomination was issued from 118 B.C. to 220 A.D., with additional varieties perhaps as late as 600 A.D. Dated molds have been found, and the calligraphy and other features changed over time, making it possible to more precisely date some examples.
CH86008. Bronze 5 zhu, Hartill 8.9, VF, encrustations, weight 3.982 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, c. 90 B.C.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu), square top to zhu, filed edges, no rim above hole; reverse plain; $3.00 (€2.76)
 


China, Northern Zhou Dynasty, Emperor Wu, 557 - 581 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Zhou| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Wu,| |557| |-| |581| |A.D.|, |5| |wu| |zhu|
Zhou_Wu_TangEmperor Wu of Northern Zhou (543-578), personal name Yuwen Yong, nickname Miluotu, was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. As was the case of the reigns of his brothers Emperor Xiaomin and Emperor Ming, the early part of his reign was dominated by his cousin Yuwen Hu, but in 572 he ambushed Yuwen Hu and seized power personally. He thereafter ruled ably and built up the power of his military, destroying rival Northern Qi in 577 and annexing its territory. His death the next year, however, ended his ambitions of uniting China, and under the reign of his erratic son Emperor Xuan (Yuwen Yun), Northern Zhou itself soon deteriorated and was usurped by Yang Jian in 581.
CH89208. Bronze 5 wu zhu, Bu Quan (spade coin); Hartill 13.29, Schjoth 245, Fisher 639, Choice VF, nice green patina, light deposits, weight 3.369 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, 561 - 576 A.D.; obverse Bu Quan (stroke in the middle of Quan is continuous); reverse plain; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

Calgary Coin Gallery. "Chinese Cast Coins Reference and Price Guide" - http://www.calgarycoin.com/reference/china/china.htm.
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Gratzer, H. & A. Fishman. One Thousand Years of Wu Zhu Coinage 118 BC - AD 958. (2016).
Gratzer, H. & A. Fishman. The Numismatic Legacy of Wang Mang, AD 9 - 23. (2017).
Hartill, D. A Guide to Cash Coins. (Victoria, BC, 1987).
Hartill, D. Cast Chinese Coins. (Victoria, BC, 2005).
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Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins and Their Values, Vol. 3: Non-Islamic States & Western Colonies. (London, 1979).
Novak, J. A Working Aid for Collectors of Annamese Coins. (Merced, CA, 1989).
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Scott Semans World Coins, The Daniel K.E. Ching Sale, Seattle, 2 June 1991.
Thierry, F. Monnaies chinoises. I L'Antiquité préimpériale. (Paris, 1997).
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Zhen Yi Wei. Tú diǎn zhōng guó huā qián. (Shanghai, 2010).

Catalog current as of Monday, September 28, 2020.
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