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

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, Qing Dynasty, De Zong, The Guangxu Emperor, 1875 - 1908

|China|, |China,| |Qing| |Dynasty,| |De| |Zong,| |The| |Guangxu| |Emperor,| |1875| |-| |1908||10| |cash|
The Guangxu Emperor, De Zong, was the tenth emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, under Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898. He initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he was put under house arrest until his death.
CH89424. Bronze 10 cash, Coins in the Collection of Shanghai Museum, Vol. 6, 2169 (5.0g, 25mm, similar thick rims); cf. Hartill 22.1275 (smaller), VF, rough fields and file marks (normal for the type), weight 4.565 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 0o, Bejing, Board of Revenue mint, c. 1875 A.D.; obverse Guang Xu tong bao, protruding head boo, thick outer rim; reverse Boo Chiowan (Board of Revenue), thick outer rim; rare; $85.00 (€78.20)
 


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|
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."
CH96425. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, Fair, light brown mottled patina, weight 1.944 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $28.00 (€25.76)
 


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|
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."
CH96432. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, aF, earthen deposits, drill hole through, small for type, weight 1.0740 g, maximum diameter 12.5 mm, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $24.00 (€22.08)
 


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|
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."
CH96429. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, Fair, holed, weight 2.039 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $21.00 (€19.32)
 


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|
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."
CH96433. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, Fair, light earthen deposits, edge chip, weight 1.420 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $20.00 (€18.40)
 


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|
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."
CH96434. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, Fair, holed, weight 1.404 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $20.00 (€18.40)
 


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

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1101| |-| |1126| |A.D.||1| |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
CH96435. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 16.379, Schjoth 609, Fisher 1018, aVF, blue-grey patina, light deposits, weight 2.999 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1101 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Sheng Song yuan bao, running script, clockwise, claw feet feet bao; reverse plain; $18.00 (€16.56)
 


China, Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Tai Zong, 990 - 997 A.D.

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Tai| |Zong,| |990| |-| |997| |A.D.||1| |cash|
Known by his temple name Taizong after his death, Zhao Jiong was the second emperor of the Song dynasty in China. Taizong was a hardworking and diligent emperor, notable for reunifying China by conquering the Northern Han and for caring for the well-being of his people. He personally led the campaign against the North, increased agricultural production, organized encyclopedias, expanded the courts and the examination system, and further limited the military power of the jiedushi. He personally wrote the inscriptions on his coins.Taizong_of_Song
CH96829. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 16.37, Schjoth 467, Fisher 873, aVF, weight 4.295 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, 995 - 997 A.D.; obverse Zhi Dao Yuan Bao, running script, clockwise; reverse plain; $10.00 (€9.20)
 


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|
Minted during the lifetime of Jesus!

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.
Wang_Mang
CH96836. Bronze 5 zhu, cf. Hartill 9.32 ff., Gratzer-Fishman C5.46 (g) ff., aF or better, as found patina, light encrustations, 7 - 23 A.D.; obverse Huo Quan (wealth/money coin); reverse plain; randomly selected from the same lot as the coins in the photograph, ONE COIN; $6.00 (€5.52)
 


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

|China|, |China,| |Northern| |Song| |Dynasty,| |Emperor| |Hui| |Zong,| |1101| |-| |1126| |A.D.||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
CH87038. Iron cash, Hartill 16.502, Schjoth -, Fisher -, weight c. 3.6 g, maximum diameter c. 25.5 mm, 1119 - 1125; obverse Xuan He Tong Bao, Slender Gold script; reverse plain; aF or better, quality varies, some with edge chips, some with thicker rust, similar to the coins in the photograph, ONE COIN; $5.00 (€4.60)
 




  



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REFERENCES|

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