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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 Hui Zong, 1101 - 1126 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1101| |-| |1126| |A.D.|, |2| |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
CH93020. Bronze 2 cash, Hartill 16.476, Schjoth 659, Fisher 1111; normal size, F, light earthen deposits, weight 5.586 g, maximum diameter 29.4 mm, 1119 - 1125 A.D.; obverse Xuan He tong bao, seal script; reverse plain; $12.00 SALE |PRICE| $10.80


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

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1101| |-| |1126| |A.D.|, |2| |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
CH93021. Bronze 2 cash, Hartill 16.476, Schjoth 656, Fisher 1111; normal size, F, colorful patina, deposits and encrustations, weight 7.007 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, 1119 - 1125 A.D.; obverse Xuan He tong bao, seal script; reverse plain; $16.00 SALE |PRICE| $14.40


Japan, Nagasaki Trade Coins, 1659 - 1685, For Trade with Vietnam

|China|, |Japan,| |Nagasaki| |Trade| |Coins,| |1659| |-| |1685,| |For| |Trade| |with| |Vietnam|, |cash|
From 1641, under the Sakoku isolationist policy, Nagasaki was the only Japanese port open to trade with Vietnam. Japan traded silver and copper for raw silk, sugar spices and sandalwood. Nagasaki Trade Coins were cast from 1659 to 1685. By law, they could not bear the officially issued Kanei Tsuho inscription. The inscription on this type copies Chinese Northern Song Dynasty cash coins, inscribed Yuan Feng Tong Bao, issued 960 - 1122. The clerical script style on these imitatives is quite different from the Song coins. A string of these trade coins was worth 1 liang of silver in Japan but 10.5 liang of silver in Vietnam! Copies of this type were also cast in Vietnam; their style is even further removed from their Song prototypes.
JA93024. Bronze cash, Hartill EJC 3.176 (copies Northern Song, Yuan Feng Tong Bao, Hartill 16.234), gVF, very light highlighting deposits, edge crack, scratches, weight 2.589 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, Nagasaki mint, 1668 - 1685; obverse Gen Ho Tsu Ho (Vietnamese: Nguyen Phong Thong Bao), li (clerical) script, clockwise, one dot Tsu, large characters; reverse plain; $14.00 SALE |PRICE| $12.60


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. Many clipped and filed coins have been found attributed to the Western Han period. It is thought that they were produced as an adjustment for inflationary periods. Gratzer-Fishman distinguishes filed from cut/clipped coins. Filed are round, cut are square in shape. These come in all sizes, filed to varying degree. Surviving molds show some coins were cast this way.
CH89385. Bronze 5 zhu, Filed edge Wu Zu; Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B1.64, cf. Hartill 10.28, aVF, concave shape, blue-green patina, deposits and encrustations, weight 1.987 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, 118 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu); reverse plain; $4.00 SALE |PRICE| $3.60


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. Many clipped and filed coins have been found attributed to the Western Han period. It is thought that they were produced as an adjustment for inflationary periods. There are many sizes found, filed to varying degrees. Gratzer-Fishman distinguishes filed from cut/clipped coins. Filed are round, cut are square in shape. Surviving molds show some coins were cast this way.
CH89387. Bronze 5 zhu, Filed edge Wu Zu; Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B1.64, cf. Hartill 10.28, F, green patina, encrustations and deposits, weight 2.007 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, 118 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu); reverse plain; $4.00 SALE |PRICE| $3.60


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. Many clipped and filed coins have been found attributed to the Western Han period. It is thought that they were produced as an adjustment for inflationary periods. There are many sizes found, filed to varying degrees. Gratzer-Fishman distinguishes filed from cut/clipped coins. Filed are round, cut are square in shape. Surviving molds show some coins were cast this way.
CH89388. Bronze 5 zhu, Filed edge Wu Zu; Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B1.64 (b); cf. Hartill 8.8, aVF, deposits and encrustations, reverse scratches, weight 2.546 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, 118 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu), raised rim above inner hole; reverse plain; $4.00 SALE |PRICE| $3.60


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. Many clipped and filed coins have been found attributed to the Western Han period. It is thought that they were produced as an adjustment for inflationary periods. There are many sizes found, filed to varying degrees. Gratzer-Fishman distinguishes filed from cut/clipped coins. Filed are round, cut are square in shape. Surviving molds show some coins were cast this way.
CH89389. Bronze 5 zhu, Filed edge Wu Zu; Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B1.64, cf. Hartill 10.28, dark patina, encrustations, weight 1.453 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, 118 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu); reverse plain; $3.00 SALE |PRICE| $2.70


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. Gratzer-Fishman distinguishes filed from cut/clipped coins. Filed are round, cut are square in shape. These come in all sizes, filed to varying degree.
CH89262. Bronze 5 zhu, Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B1.64 (d), cf. Hartill 10.28, F, colorful patina, deposits and encrustations, weight 1.495 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, 206 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu); reverse plain; $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. Gratzer-Fishman distinguishes filed from cut/clipped coins. Filed are round, cut are square in shape. These come in all sizes, filed to varying degree
CH89263. Bronze 5 zhu, Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B1.64 (d), cf. Hartill 10.28, F, earthen deposits and encrustations, weight 1.303 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, 206 B.C. - 6 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu); reverse plain; $5.00 SALE |PRICE| $4.50


China, Eastern Han Dynasty, Usurper Dong Zhuo, 190 - 192 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Eastern| |Han| |Dynasty,| |Usurper| |Dong| |Zhuo,| |190| |-| |192| |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. During the time of Dong Zhuo, small coins were officially cast using many different old filed or clipped coins. Many coins appeared featureless due to poor casting or casting from poor quality mother coins.
CH89265. Bronze 5 zhu, Gratzer-Fishman Wu Zhu B4.343 - 345, cf. Hartill 10.31, F, colorful patina, deposits, heavy encrustations, casting sprue, weight 1.797 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, 190 - 192 A.D.; obverse Wu Zhu (5 zhu); reverse plain; $6.00 SALE |PRICE| $5.40




  






REFERENCES|

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Thierry, F. Monnaies chinoises. I L'Antiquit primpriale. (Paris, 1997).
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Catalog current as of Wednesday, February 26, 2020.
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