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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Asian Coins ▸ ChinaView 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, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhe Zong, 1086 - 1100 A.D.

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"Round as the heavens, square as the earth," is a Chinese saying used to metaphorically describe the fabric of the coins. On the practical side, it was discovered very early that a square hole fit a square shaft, which enabled a stacked quantity of coins to be turned on a lathe to remove casting irregularities.
CH54355. Bronze 2 cash, Shao Sheng Yuan Bao, seal script, clockwise, small size; Hartill 16.303, Schjoth 593, Fisher 995, VF, weight 6.810 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, 1094 - 1097 A.D.; very common; $18.00 SALE PRICE $16.20
 


China, Three-Kingdoms, Kingdom of Wu, Ta Huang (Sun Ch'uan), 232 - 237 A.D.

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Eastern Wu (222 - 280 A.D), also known as Sun Wu, was on of the Three Kingdoms competing for control of China after the fall of the Han Dynasty in the Jiangnan (Yangtze Delta) region in southern and southeastern China. Its capital was largely at Jianye (modern Nanjing), but was at times at Wuchang (in modern Ezhou, Hubei).
CH35198. Bronze 500 Cash, Da Quan Wu Bai; Hartill 11.30, Schjoth 193, Fisher 531, Mitchiner ACW -, VF, weight 8.441 g, maximum diameter 30.3 mm, Nanjing or Hubei mint, 232 - 237 A.D.; scarce; SOLD


China, Bimetallic Arrowhead, Late Warring States - Qin Dynasty, 300 - 200 B.C.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years.
AA41667. Arrowhead; Nat. Geo 10-96 pp 69, Watson China -; 32 mm long, head 29 mm; bronze head, trilobate solid sides, triangular incuse on one side, iron tang, attractive; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Calgary Coin Gallery. "Chinese Cast Coins Reference and Price Guide" - http://www.calgarycoin.com/reference/china/china.htm.
Coole, A., et al. An Encyclopedia of Chinese Coins. (1967 - 1976).
Fisher, G. Fisher's Ding. (1990).
Gorny, N. Northern Song Dynasty Cash Variety Guide, Volume 1: Fugo Senshi. (Portland, 2001).
Hartill, D. Cast Chinese Coins. (Victoria, BC, 2005).
Hartill, D. Qing Cash. RNS Special Publication 37. (London, 2003).
Krause, C. & C. Mishler. Standard Catalog of World Coins. (Iola, WI, 2010 - ).
Mitchiner, M. Ancient Trade and Early Coinage. (London, 2004).
Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2: the Ancient and Classical World. (London, 1978).
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).
Peng, X. A Monetary History of China (Zhongguo Huobo Shi). Trans. Edward H Kaplan. (Bellingham, WA, 1994).
Schjoth, F. Chinese Currency. (Oslo, 1929).
Scott Semans World Coins, The Daniel K.E. Ching Sale, Seattle, 2 June 1991.
Thierry, F. Monnaies chinoises. I L'Antiquité préimpériale. (Paris, 1997).
Thierry, F. Monnaies chinoises. II Des Qin aux Cinq Dynasties. (Paris, 2003).
Tye, R. Wang Mang. (South Uist, UK, 1993).
Von Glahn, R. Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China, 1000-1700. (Berkley, 1996).
Yuanjie, Z., ed. Xinjiang Numismatics. (Hong Kong, 1991).
Yuquan, W. Early Chinese Coinage. (New York, 1951).

Catalog current as of Thursday, August 24, 2017.
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