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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.

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"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.
CH87548. Bronze 10 cash, Hartill 16.400, Schjoth 621, Fisher 1040, EF, fine casting, flower hole, attractive patina, green patina, light earthen dusting, weight 12.044 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, 1102 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Chong Ning tong bao, clockwise, slender gold script; reverse plain; $65.00 (€55.25)
 


Lot of 40 Various Chinese Bronze Coins

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LT17204. Bronze Lot, Lot of 40 various Chinese bronze coins, unattributed (may include some Vietnamese, Korean or Japanese coins), condition varies, most F or better, appears to include an excellent variety of types, no tags, no flips, photo is random selection of the actual coins in the lot, as-is, no returns; $45.00 (€38.25)
 


Lot of 11 All Different Song Dynasty Cash Coins, 960 - 1279 A.D.

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The Song dynasty (960–1279) was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and continued until 1279. It was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song often came into conflict with the contemporary Liao and Western Xia dynasties in the north and was conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Song government was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money nationally and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as the first discernment of true north using a compass.
LT87484. Bronze Lot, 11 Song Dynasty Cash Coins, F or better, all different types or varieties, the actual coins in the photograph, bulk lot, as-is, no returns; $27.00 (€22.95)
 


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

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Instead of the usual square, the shape of the hole on this coin resembles a flower. The Chinese referred to this type of hole as a flower hole, rosette hole, or chestnut hole. Westerners sometimes refer to them as a star hole. The Chinese call similar hexagon holes as turtle shell holes. These whole variations were created by mint workers doing final detail work, using a chisel or a file to remove excess metal that flowed into the center hole during casting. Creating these fancy holes was certainly intentional but the purpose is unknown.
CH67390. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 16.261, Schjoth 566, Fisher 979, F, flower hole, weight 4.136 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, 1086 - 1093 A.D.; obverse Yuan You tong bao, seal script, clockwise, square bao with short feet; reverse plain; $25.00 (€21.25)
 


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

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Instead of the usual square, the shape of the hole on this coin resembles a flower. The Chinese referred to this type of hole as a flower hole, rosette hole, or chestnut hole. Westerners sometimes refer to them as a star hole. The Chinese call similar hexagon holes as turtle shell holes. These whole variations were created by mint workers doing final detail work, using a chisel or a file to remove excess metal that flowed into the center hole during casting. Creating these fancy holes was certainly intentional but the purpose is unknown.
CH67391. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 16.89, Schjoth 494, Fisher 901, F, flower hole, weight 3.444 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, 1034 - 1038 A.D.; obverse Jing You yuan bao, regular script, clockwise; reverse plain; $25.00 (€21.25)
 


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

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Instead of the usual square, the shape of the hole on this coin resembles a flower. The Chinese referred to this type of hole as a flower hole, rosette hole, or chestnut hole. Westerners sometimes refer to them as a star hole. The Chinese call similar hexagon holes as turtle shell holes. These whole variations were created by mint workers doing final detail work, using a chisel or a file to remove excess metal that flowed into the center hole during casting. Creating these fancy holes was certainly intentional but the purpose is unknown.
CH67392. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 16.235, Schjoth 547, Fisher 963, F, flower hole, weight 3.972 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, 1078 - 1085 A.D.; obverse Yuan Feng tong bao, running script, clockwise, large characters; reverse plain; $25.00 (€21.25)
 


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

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A diamond punch is a hole that has been punched offset to produce a diamond shape hole relative to the orientation of the coin.
CH87007. Bronze 2 cash, Gorny 2016 26b.36 D, Hartill 16.198, aVF, diamond punch variety, light encrustations, weight 8.424 g, maximum diameter 32.2 mm, 1068 - 1078 A.D.; obverse Xi Ning zhong bao, Lishu (clerical script), clockwise, squat boxy wide characters, no left hand stroke on Xi, short compact Ni, short boxy bao; reverse plain; $24.00 (€20.40)
 


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

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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.
CH83983. Bronze 10 cash, Hartill 16.407, Schjoth 622, Fisher 1050, VF, light encrustations, weight 9.115 g, maximum diameter 34.6 mm, 1102 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Chong Ning zhong bao (coinage of greater reverence), li script, large characters; reverse plain; $24.00 (€20.40)
 


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

Click for a larger photo
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.
CH83986. Bronze 10 cash, Hartill 16.408, Schjoth 622, Fisher 1050, VF, green patina, weight 11.273 g, maximum diameter 35.1 mm, 1102 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Chong Ning zhong bao (coinage of greater reverence), li script, thin characters; reverse plain; $24.00 (€20.40)
 


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

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Seal script, Zhuan Shu in Mandrin Chinese, is a formal style of Chinese calligraphy, closest to the archaic form of the charicters.
CH86067. Bronze 2 cash, Hartill 16.270, Schjoth 575, Fisher 983, VF, weight 7.055 g, maximum diameter 29.7 mm, 1086 - 1093 A.D.; obverse Yuan Yu tong bao, seal script, clockwise, round bao; reverse plain; $22.00 (€18.70)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Scott Semans World Coins, The Daniel K.E. Ching Sale, Seattle, 2 June 1991.
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Catalog current as of Tuesday, November 20, 2018.
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