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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, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhe Zong, 1086 - 1100 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Zhe| |Zong,| |1086| |-| |1100| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Semi-cursive script is a partially cursive style of Chinese calligraphy. Also referred to in English both as running script and by its Mandarin Chinese name, xíngshu, it is derived from clerical script, and was for a long time after its development in the first centuries A.D. the usual style of handwriting.
CH98314. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 28.b, Hartill 16.274, Schjoth 567, Fisher -, aF, weight 3.711 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 0o, 1086 - 1093 A.D.; obverse Yuan You tong bao, running script, clockwise; reverse plain; $5.00 (€4.10)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhen Zong, 998 - 1022 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Zhen| |Zong,| |998| |-| |1022| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Zhenzong's reign was noted for consolidation of power and strengthening the Song Empire. The empire prospered, and its military might reinforced. However, 1004, the Khitans waged war. Zhenzong struck back but despite initial successes, in 1005, concluded the humiliating Shanyuan Treaty. The treaty brought over a century of peace, but at the price of an inferior position to the Liao Empire, and an annual tribute of 100,000 ounces of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The admission of inferiority would come to plague the foreign affairs of the Song Empire, while the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers.
CH98316. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 05, Hartill 16.43, Schjoth 469, Fisher 876, Fair, weight 3.536 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 0o, 998 - 1003 A.D.; obverse Xian Ping yuan bao, clockwise, regular script; reverse plain; $5.00 (€4.10)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Ren Zong, 1022 - 1063 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Ren| |Zong,| |1022| |-| |1063| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Renzong was the fourth emperor of the Song dynasty. He reigned for about 41 years and was the longest reigning Song dynasty emperor. Despite his long reign, Renzong is not widely known. His reign marked the high point of Song influences and powers but was also the beginning of its slow disintegration that would persist over the next century and a half.
CH98324. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 17.a, Hartill 16.132, Schjoth 510, Fisher 921, aF, earthen deposits, weight 3.824 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 0o, 1054 - 1055 A.D.; obverse Zhi He yuan bao, seal script, clockwise, small characters; reverse plain; $6.00 (€4.92)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Ren Zong, 1022 - 1063 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Ren| |Zong,| |1022| |-| |1063| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Despite his long reign of over 40 years, Renzong is not widely known. His reign marked the high point of Song influences and powers but was also the beginning of its slow disintegration that would persist over the next century and a half.
CH98325. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny 18.b, Hartill 16.141, Schjoth -, Fisher -, Fair, weight 4.251 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1054 - 1055 A.D.; obverse Zhi He tong bao, regular script, clockwise, medium characters; reverse plain; $5.00 (€4.10)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Zhe Zong, 1086 - 1100 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Zhe| |Zong,| |1086| |-| |1100| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Zhezong ascended the throne at age 9 under the supervision of Empress Dowager Gao. He was powerless until the Empress' death in 1093. Under Zhenzong the country prospered. But after the Khitan attacked, despite initial successes, he concluded a treaty agreeing to an inferior position and an annual tribute of 100,000 oz. of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The treaty brought over a century of peace, but the admission of inferiority would plague foreign affairs and the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers. Zhezong died in 1100 in Kaifeng and was succeeded by his younger brother. He was only 24.
CH98327. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 29.b, Hartill 16.307, Schjoth 586, Fisher 991, F, green patina, light deposits, weight 3.736 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 0o, 1094 - 1097 A.D.; obverse Shao Sheng yuan bao, running script, clockwise, spread feet bao; reverse plain; $6.00 (€4.92)
 


China, Western Han Dynasty, 206 B.C. - 9 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Western| |Han| |Dynasty,| |206| |B.C.| |-| |9| |A.D.||5| |zhu|NEW
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.Western_Han
CH98356. Bronze 5 zhu, Gratzer-Fishman B1.42, Hartill 8.9, F, weight 1.958 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, c. 73 - 49 B.C.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu), hour glass wu; reverse plain, inner and outer rim; $11.00 (€9.02)
 


China, Xin Dynasty, Wang Mang's Interregnum, 7 - 23 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Xin| |Dynasty,| |Wang| |Mang's| |Interregnum,| |7| |-| |23| |A.D.||5| |zhu|NEW
Wang Mang was a Han Dynasty official and consort kin who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin Dynasty, ruling 9-23 A.D. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow, and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty (before Xin) and Eastern Han Dynasty (after Xin). Some historians have traditionally viewed Wang as a usurper, while others have portrayed him as a visionary and selfless social reformer. Though a learned Confucian scholar who sought to implement the harmonious society he saw in the classics, his efforts ended in chaos. In October 23 A.D., the capital Chang'an was attacked and the imperial palace ransacked. Wang Mang died in the battle. The Han dynasty was reestablished in 25 A.D. when Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu) took the throne. Xin_Dynasty
CH98362. Bronze 5 zhu, Hartill 9.32, Schjoth 149, Gratzer-Fishman C5.46, gF, weight 2.586 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 0o, 14 - 23 A.D.; obverse Huo Quan (wealth/money coin), normal rims, protruding stroke at top of quan; reverse plain; $10.00 (€8.20)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Shen Zong, 1067 - 1085 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Shen| |Zong,| |1067| |-| |1085| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Shenzong implemented Wang Anshi's famous reforms aimed at improving life for the peasantry and unemployed. He was initially successful against the Tangut Empire but Shenzong's forces were defeated at the City of Yongle battle of 1082. As a result, the Xixia forces grew more powerful and would be a thorn on the side of the Song dynasty in the ensuing decades.
CH98363. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 27.b, Hartill 16.235, Schjoth 547, Fisher 963, aVF, light deposits, weight 3.894 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1078 - 1085 A.D.; obverse Yuan Feng tong bao, running script, clockwise; reverse plain; $8.00 (€6.56)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Shen Zong, 1067 - 1085 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Shen| |Zong,| |1067| |-| |1085| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Shenzong implemented Wang Anshi's famous reforms aimed at improving life for the peasantry and unemployed. He was initially successful against the Tangut Empire but Shenzong's forces were defeated at the City of Yongle battle of 1082. As a result, the Xixia forces grew more powerful and would be a thorn on the side of the Song dynasty in the ensuing decades.
CH98365. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 27.b, Hartill 16.235, Schjoth 547, Fisher 963, aVF, green patina, light deposits, weight 3.866 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1078 - 1085 A.D.; obverse Yuan Feng tong bao, running script, clockwise; reverse plain; $8.00 (€6.56)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Shen Zong, 1067 - 1085 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Shen| |Zong,| |1067| |-| |1085| |A.D.||1| |cash|NEW
Shenzong implemented Wang Anshi's famous reforms aimed at improving life for the peasantry and unemployed. He was initially successful against the Tangut Empire but Shenzong's forces were defeated at the City of Yongle battle of 1082. As a result, the Xixia forces grew more powerful and would be a thorn on the side of the Song dynasty in the ensuing decades.
CH98366. Bronze 1 cash, Gorny NS 27.a, Hartill 16.210, Schjoth 545, Fisher 964, aVF, highlighting light green deposits, weight 2.429 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, 1078 - 1085 A.D.; obverse Yuan Feng tong bao, seal script, clockwise, large characters; reverse plain; $10.00 (€8.20)
 




  






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 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).
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Hartill, D. Qing Cash. RNS Special Publication 37. (London, 2003).
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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).
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).
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