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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Asian Coins| ▸ |Korea||View Options:  |  |  | 

Coins of Korea

The history of Korean currency dates back around 3rd century B.C., when knife coins, known as "Myeongdojun" circulated in the state of Yan and Gojoseon. The first iron and bronze coins were minted in Korea during the 15th year of the reign of King Seonjeong (996 A.D.). During the reign of King Sukjong, 1097 - 1107, a monetary system with a variety of cast coins was established. These coins included the Dongguk (Eastern Country), Haedong (Eastern Sea) and Samhan (Three States) coin series. Coins cast in copper and silver vase-shaped coins (unbyŏng) were issued in the 10th and 11th century but their circulation was limited. It was not until the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty (founded in 1392) that copper coins were minted for wide circulation. Soon after, however, Jeohwa, the first legal paper money, which was made from mulberry-bark, replaced metal coinage. Coins would not be issued again until early in the 16th century. Throughout this time imported Chinese coins also circulated, and grain and linen were used as commodity currencies. In the 17th century, coinage finally became the primary medium of exchange and twenty-four mints were established across Korea. From 1633 until 1892, coins denominated in mun and bearing the inscription Sang Pyeong Tong Bo were the most widely circulated currency.

Korea, Choson (Yi) Dynasty, 1392 - 1910

|Korea|, |Korea,| |Choson| |(Yi)| |Dynasty,| |1392| |-| |1910||1| |mun|
Beginning in 1633 A.D., during the reign of King Injo, the famine relief "Stabilization Office" (Sangpyongchong) began to cast coins using the first two characters of the office name (sang pyong) in the inscription (sang pyong tong bo), meaning "always even universal currency." Sang pyong tong bo coins were cast from 1633 to 1891 and circulated for over 300 years. Numerous government offices and military mints produced the coins as a source of funding, and many were also privately cast. The places indicated by the mintmark were not necessarily the actual mint; they were offices granted the right of coinage. They may have been minted for the office at another location.
KO110411. Copper 1 mun, Velde-Hartill type 20.1.2, SCWC KM 175, CKCB 18.262, Craig LCC 20, aVF, light deposits and encrustations, mold error on rev. on Hye (3 straight lines), weight 3.218 g, maximum diameter 24.42 mm, die axis 0o, Seoul, Board of Revenue mint, 1806; obverse Sang Pyong Tong Bo (always even universal currency), one dot tong, hooks on pyong; reverse Hye (Rice and Cloth Department) mintmark above, Sam (three) below; $22.00 (22.22)


Korea, Choson (Yi) Dynasty, 1392 - 1910

|Korea|, |Korea,| |Choson| |(Yi)| |Dynasty,| |1392| |-| |1910||1| |mun|
Beginning in 1633 A.D., during the reign of King Injo, the famine relief "Stabilization Office" (Sangpyongchong) began to cast coins using the first two characters of the office name (sang pyong) in the inscription (sang pyong tong bo), meaning "always even universal currency." Sang pyong tong bo coins were cast from 1633 to 1891 and circulated for over 300 years. Numerous government offices and military mints produced the coins as a source of funding, and many were also privately cast. The places indicated by the mintmark were not necessarily the actual mint; they were offices granted the right of coinage. They may have been minted for the office at another location.
KO93016. Copper 1 mun, Velde-Hartill 13.2A.14, SCWC KM 10.14, CKCB 18.284, VF, highlighting deposits, weight 6.362 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, Seoul, Board of Revenue mint, 1806(?); obverse Sang Pyong Tong Bo (always even universal currency), one dot tong, hooks on pyong; reverse Ho (Treasury Department) mintmark above without topbar, Sa (four) left, Sip (ten) below; SOLD


Korea, Choson (Yi) Dynasty, 1392 - 1910

|Korea|, |Korea,| |Choson| |(Yi)| |Dynasty,| |1392| |-| |1910||1| |mun|
Beginning in 1633 A.D., during the reign of King Injo, the famine relief "Stabilization Office" (Sangpyongchong) began to cast coins using the first two characters of the office name (sang pyong) in the inscription (sang pyong tong bo), meaning "always even universal currency." Sang pyong tong bo coins were cast from 1633 to 1891 and circulated for over 300 years. Numerous government offices and military mints produced the coins as a source of funding, and many were also privately cast. The places indicated by the mintmark were not necessarily the actual mint; they were offices granted the right of coinage. They may have been minted for the office at another location.
KO92730. Copper 1 mun, Velde-Hartill type 25.4A.6, SCWC KM 276.1.6, CKCB 18.234A, Craig LCC 5, aVF, light deposits, weight 4.502 g, maximum diameter 29.6 mm, die axis 0o, Seoul, Special Army Unit mint, 1750; obverse Sang Pyong Tong Bo (always even universal currency); reverse Yong (Special Army Unit) mintmark above, Yuk (six) below, circle left; SOLD










REFERENCES

Bank of Korea. Hwapye Moknok [Korean Money Diagrams]. (Seoul, 1970).
Bank of Korea. Hanguk Hwapye Sa [Korean Currency]. (Seoul, 1994).
Craig, A. The Coins of Korea and an Outline of Early Chinese Coinages. (Mountain View, CA, 2011).
Galloway, A. Illustrated Coin Dating Guide for the Eastern World. (Iola, 1984).
Gardner, C. The Coinage of Corea and Their Values. (1892).
Han, Y. Han'guk ui kojon [Cash Coins of Korea]. (Seoul, 2002).
Kim, I. Korean Numismatic Diagrams. (Seoul, 1974).
Korean Coins and Banknotes Association. Korean Coins and Banknotes Catalogue. (Seoul, 2011).
Krause, C. & C. Mishler. Standard Catalog of World Coins. (Iola, WI, 2009).
Kriz, R. Korean Cash - Mandel Supplement. (Seattle, 1989).
Lovmo, M. South Korean Coins in the Era of Development. (2022).
Mandel, E. Cast Coins of Korea. (Racine, WI, 1972).
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).
Ohsung, K. & C. The Catalog of Korean Coins and Banknotes. (2011).
Velde, W. & D. Hartill. Cast Korean Coins and Charms. (London, 2013).

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