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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, Warring States, Yan State, 300 - 220 B.C.

|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Yan| |State,| |300| |-| |220| |B.C.||1| |hua|NEW
The history of Yan began in the Western Zhou in the early first millennium B.C. After the authority of the Zhou king declined in the 8th century B.C., Yan survived and became one of the strongest states in China. Its capital was Ji (now Beijing). During the Warring States period, the court was also moved to another capital at Xiadu at times. Despite the wars, Yan survived through the Warring States period. In 227 B.C., with Qin troops on the border after the collapse of Zhao, Crown Prince Dan sent an assassin to kill the king of Qin, hoping to end the threat. The mission failed. Surprised and enraged by such a bold act, the king of Qin determined to destroy Yan. The Yan army was crushed at the frozen Yi River, Ji fell the following year and King Xi fled to the Liaodong Peninsula. In 222 B.C., Liaodong fell and Yan was totally conquered by Qin. Yan was the third to last state to fall, and with its destruction the fates of the remaining two kingdoms were sealed. In 221 B.C., Qin conquered all of China, ending the Warring States period and founding the Qin dynasty. Yan experienced a brief period of independence after the collapse of the Qin dynasty in 207 B.C., but was eventually absorbed by the victorious Han.Yan State Map
CH110840. Bronze 1 hua, Hartill 6.17, Fisher 382, Schjoth 77, Zhongguo Qianbi DCD 608, VF, earthen deposits and encrustations, weight 1.951 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, probably Ji (Beijing) mint, 300 - 220 B.C.; obverse Yi Hua (one hua); reverse plain; $20.00 SALE PRICE $18.00


China, Yan State, Ming Knife Money, 400 - 220 B.C.

|China|, |China,| |Yan| |State,| |Ming| |Knife| |Money,| |400| |-| |220| |B.C.||knife| |money|NEW
Ming knives are identified by a character that looks like an eye on the obverse. Traditionally this character has been identified as ming, hence the name for the type. Others identify the character as Yi. A mint for Ming knives was unearthed at Xiadu, to the south west of Beijing. This was the site of Yi, capital of the State of Yan from 360 B.C., so the reading of yi has found favor recently. Molds have also been discovered in Shandong. The coins have been found, often in great quantities, across much of northern China and even as far as Korea and Japan. A wide range of characters are found on the reverses. There are two different Ming knife shapes. The first, presumably the earlier, is curved like the pointed tip knives. The second has a straight blade and often a pronounced angled bend in the middle. This shape is known as qing, a chime stone. The alloy contains around 40% copper and they weigh around 16 grams.
CH110923. Bronze knife money, Hartill 4.42, Schjoth 51-61, Fisher 342, Paohua DCD 577, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, weight 16.446 g, maximum diameter 139.7 mm, die axis 0o, Ming mint, 400 - 220 B.C.; obverse Ming (bright) or Yi; reverse Suo Wu (left five); $190.00 SALE PRICE $171.00


|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Chu| |Kingdom,| |c.| |476| |-| |221| |B.C.,| |Ghost| |Face| |Money||cowrie|NEW
This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH110833. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, aVF, earthen deposits, weight 2.020 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian (ghost face money); reverse plain; $35.00 SALE PRICE $31.50


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ghost Face Money

|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Chu| |Kingdom,| |c.| |476| |-| |221| |B.C.,| |Ghost| |Face| |Money||cowrie|NEW
This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH110834. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, VF, earthen deposits, light edge chipping, weight 1.483 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian (ghost face money); reverse plain; $40.00 SALE PRICE $36.00


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ghost Face Money

|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Chu| |Kingdom,| |c.| |476| |-| |221| |B.C.,| |Ghost| |Face| |Money||cowrie|NEW
This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH110835. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, VF, earthen deposits, weight 1.987 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian (ghost face money); reverse plain; $40.00 SALE PRICE $36.00


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ghost Face Money

|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Chu| |Kingdom,| |c.| |476| |-| |221| |B.C.,| |Ghost| |Face| |Money||cowrie|NEW
This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH110836. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, VF, earthen deposits, roughness, weight 2.393 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian (ghost face money); reverse plain; $40.00 SALE PRICE $36.00


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

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1101| |-| |1126| |A.D.||10| |cash|NEW
"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.

The slender gold script was the personal calligraphy style of the Emperor Hui Zong.
Huizong
CH110837. Bronze 10 cash, Gorny NS 33. Hartill 16.400, Schjoth 621, Fisher 1040, VF, attractive blue-green patina, weight 11.375 g, maximum diameter 34.71 mm, die axis 0o, 1102 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Chong Ning tong bao, clockwise, slender gold script; reverse plain; $55.00 SALE PRICE $49.50


China, Warring States, Yan State, 300 - 220 B.C.

|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Yan| |State,| |300| |-| |220| |B.C.||1| |hua|NEW
The history of Yan began in the Western Zhou in the early first millennium B.C. After the authority of the Zhou king declined in the 8th century B.C., Yan survived and became one of the strongest states in China. Its capital was Ji (now Beijing). During the Warring States period, the court was also moved to another capital at Xiadu at times. Despite the wars, Yan survived through the Warring States period. In 227 B.C., with Qin troops on the border after the collapse of Zhao, Crown Prince Dan sent an assassin to kill the king of Qin, hoping to end the threat. The mission failed. Surprised and enraged by such a bold act, the king of Qin determined to destroy Yan. The Yan army was crushed at the frozen Yi River, Ji fell the following year and King Xi fled to the Liaodong Peninsula. In 222 B.C., Liaodong fell and Yan was totally conquered by Qin. Yan was the third to last state to fall, and with its destruction the fates of the remaining two kingdoms were sealed. In 221 B.C., Qin conquered all of China, ending the Warring States period and founding the Qin dynasty. Yan experienced a brief period of independence after the collapse of the Qin dynasty in 207 B.C., but was eventually absorbed by the victorious Han.Yan State Map
CH110839. Bronze 1 hua, Hartill 6.17, Fisher 382, Schjoth 77, Zhongguo Qianbi DCD 608, VF, colorful patina, light deposits and encrustations, weight 1.801 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, probably Ji (Beijing) mint, 300 - 220 B.C.; obverse Yi Hua (one hua); reverse plain; $22.00 SALE PRICE $19.80


China, Warring States, Yan State, 300 - 220 B.C.

|China|, |China,| |Warring| |States,| |Yan| |State,| |300| |-| |220| |B.C.||1| |hua|NEW
The history of Yan began in the Western Zhou in the early first millennium B.C. After the authority of the Zhou king declined in the 8th century B.C., Yan survived and became one of the strongest states in China. Its capital was Ji (now Beijing). During the Warring States period, the court was also moved to another capital at Xiadu at times. Despite the wars, Yan survived through the Warring States period. In 227 B.C., with Qin troops on the border after the collapse of Zhao, Crown Prince Dan sent an assassin to kill the king of Qin, hoping to end the threat. The mission failed. Surprised and enraged by such a bold act, the king of Qin determined to destroy Yan. The Yan army was crushed at the frozen Yi River, Ji fell the following year and King Xi fled to the Liaodong Peninsula. In 222 B.C., Liaodong fell and Yan was totally conquered by Qin. Yan was the third to last state to fall, and with its destruction the fates of the remaining two kingdoms were sealed. In 221 B.C., Qin conquered all of China, ending the Warring States period and founding the Qin dynasty. Yan experienced a brief period of independence after the collapse of the Qin dynasty in 207 B.C., but was eventually absorbed by the victorious Han.Yan State Map
CH110842. Bronze 1 hua, Hartill 6.17, Fisher 382, Schjoth 77, Zhongguo Qianbi DCD 608, VF, earthen deposits and encrustations, weight 1.828 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 0o, probably Ji (Beijing) mint, 300 - 220 B.C.; obverse Yi Hua (one hua); reverse plain; $20.00 SALE PRICE $18.00


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Hui Zong, 1100 - 1125 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1100| |-| |1125| |A.D.||2| |cash|NEW
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.
CH110843. Bronze 2 cash, Gorny NS 32-2.a, Hartill 16.369, Schjoth 607, Fisher 1017, VF, earthen deposits, weight 7.838 g, maximum diameter 30.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1101 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Sheng Song yuan bao, seal script, clockwise; reverse plain; $16.00 SALE PRICE $14.40




  






REFERENCES|

Calgary Coin Gallery. "Chinese Cast Coins Reference and Price Guide" - http://www.calgarycoin.com/reference/china/china.htm.
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Gorny, N. Northern Song Dynasty Cash Variety Guide 2016. (Morrisville, NC, 2016).
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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).
Hartill, D. Qing Cash. RNS Special Publication 37. (London, 2003).
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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'Antiquit primpriale. (Paris, 1997).
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Zhen Yi Wei. T diǎn zhōng gu huā qin. (Shanghai, 2010).

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