Chinese Coins

Chinese coins for sale at |Forum |Ancient |Coins|.

The earliest Chinese proto-coins, used as early as 770-476 B.C., were imitations of the cowrie shells used in ceremonial exchanges. The first metal coins were also introduced in this period. They were not initially round, instead they were knife shaped or spade shaped. Round metal coins with a round, and then later 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 such as when paying tax, 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 mixtures of metals such copper, tin and lead, from bronze, brass or iron: precious metals like gold and silver were uncommonly used. The ratios and purity 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, and then 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 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. Other coins were of limited circulation and are today extremely rare. -- Wikipedia


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