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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Asian Coins ▸ VietnamView Options:  |  |  |   

Coins of Vietnam

Vietnam was the only region to rival China in the production of cash coins, issuing a vast variety over a 1000 year period, from 960 A.D. to the early 20th century. The coins of Vietnam relate to historically relevant people, places, and events, and include coins issued by rebels and competing political factions.

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Later Le Restoration, Le Trang Tong, 1533 - 1548, Unofficial

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Later Le Restoration is a distinction current in Vietnamese historiography. This period marked the ending of first Le dynasty which had flourished for 100 years from 1427 to 1527 until the high-ranking mandarin Mac Dang Dung stole the throne of emperor Le Cung Hoang in 1527 and established the Mac dynasty, ruling the whole territory of Vietnam. The Le royalists escaped to the Kingdom of Lan Xang (now Laos). The Right Commander-General of the Five Armies, Nguyen Kim, summoned the people loyal to the Le emperor to form the new army and to organize a revolution against the Mac. Nguyen Kim returned to the land of Vietnam and led the six-year civil war. Nguyen Kim was poisoned and the power of royal court was succeeded to his son-in- law Trinh Kiem, founder of Trinh clan.
VN86956. Copper cash, Greenbaum 10, Hartill -, Toda -, F, chalky deposits, weight 3.036 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 0o, 1533 - 1548; obverse Thien Thong Hi Bao, Thien in seal script, Zi and Tong in regular script; reverse plain; rare; $40.00 (34.00)

Dai Nam (Vietnam), Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen Hoang Tong (Khai Dinh), 18 May 1916 - 06 November 1925

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This was the first struck coin type minted in Vietnam. Most Vietnamese coins continued to be cast.

Nguyen Hoang Tong held the title of Khai Dinh, meaning "auger of peace and stability." He was a puppet figurehead for the French colonial rulers, following all of their instructions giving "legitimacy" to French policies. As a result, he was very unpopular with the people. Nguyen Ai Quoc (later known as Ho Ch Minh) wrote a play about Khai Dinh called "The Bamboo Dragon" that ridiculed him as grand only in appearance and ceremony but a powerless puppet of the French government. In 1919, the Emperor decreed Vietnam cease using Chinese as official written language and replaced it with Romanized Vietnamese.
Khai Dinh
VN86974. Copper cash, Barker 109.5 (struck coin), aVF, dark earthen deposits, light scratches on obverse and reverse, weight 2.417 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, 18 May 1916 - 06 Nov 1925; obverse Khai Dinh Thong Bao; reverse plain; $20.00 (17.00)

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Unknown King or Rebel, c. 1600 - 1700

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A number of cash coin types bearing the names of princes, of rebel chiefs, or of various mints have not been classified. Their Annamese origin is established, but no precise dates or other information. Many are from the Quang-nam Principality, the rulers of which were de facto kings and issued coins at various times. The names of these rulers are unknown. Some rebels who issued coins are otherwise entirely unrecorded by history.
VN83970. Bronze cash, Toda 264 (unclassified), Barker -, aVF, dark green patina, light dusting of chalky earthen deposit, weight 1.263 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, c. 1600 - 1700; obverse Thien Nguyen thong bao, regular script, nguyen in seal script; reverse blank; $18.00 (15.30)

Dai Ngu (Northern Vietnam), The Ho Dynasty, 1400 - 1407

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The Ho Dynasty was a short-lived six-year reign of two emperors, Ho Quy Ly in 1400 to 1401 and his second son, Ho Han Thuong, from 1401 to 1407. In 1400, Ho Qui Ly dethroned the last Tran emperor, declared himself emperor, and renamed the country from Dai Viet to Dai Ngu. In 1401, he abdicated in favor of his second son Ho Han Thuong. In accordance with the former Tran dynasty's tradition, Ho Qui-Ly styled himself as Emperor Emeritus and still possessed much power over state affairs. In 1402 the Ho forced the Champa king to surrender southern Quang Nam and northern Quang Ngai. Ho Qui Ly initiated many economic, financial and educational reforms. He introduced paper money, but it failed due to counterfeiting. More successful reforms included land reform, opening of ports to foreign trade, reform of the judiciary, improved health care and opening the education system to the study mathematics and agriculture alongside Confucian texts. A surviving Tran prince appealed to the Chinese emperor. The Tran prince and a Chinese ambassador accompanying him to claim his throne were ambushed and killed. The Ming army invaded. Ho Qui-Ly was captured, exiled to China, and forced to enlist in the Ming army as a common soldier. Ho Qui Ly and Ho Han Thuong both died in Chinese exile.
VN83971. Bronze cash, Toda 31, Barker 122.1 and 138, aVF, dark patina, light dusting of highlighting earthen deposits, weight 1.519 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, 1402 - 1407; obverse Thanh Nguyen Thong Bao, seal script; reverse plain, no rim, hole nearly round; $18.00 (15.30)

Kingdom of Quangnam (Southern Vietnam), The Nguyen Lords, Nguyen Phuc Khoat (Vo Vuong), 1738 - 1765

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In 1744 Nguyen Phuc Khoat proclaimed the southern region a kingdom and took the regnal name Vo Vuong. Although he listened to music by western missionaries, Vo Vuong banned both missionaries and Christianity in 1750. He expanded his territory, taking parts of Cambodia. The Vietnamese-Cambodian border established by the end of his reign remains the border today. After declining availability of coins became a serious problem, in 1746 he purchased zinc from Dutch merchants to cast coins. He also allowed over 100 private mints. These mints became a problem when they mixed cheaper black lead (lead) with the white lead (zinc). In 1776, Le Quy Don wrote in Phu Bien Tap Luc ('Miscellaneous records in the border area'), "There was one kind of coin called Thien Minh Thong Bao, which had black lead mixed in and became very fragile. People refused to accept it because of its ugliness; therefore the trade did not go smoothly, coins were not circulated well."Vo Vuong
VN83964. Zinc cash, Barker 85.1, Toda 285, VF, earthen deposits, weight 1.852 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, 1746 - 1765; obverse Thien Minh Thong Bao; reverse plain; $18.00 (15.30)

Vietnam, Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen The To (Gia Long), 1 June 1802 - 3 February 1820

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A nephew of the last Nguyen lord who ruled southern Vietnam, at age 15, Nguyen The To (also known as Nguyen Anh) was forced into hiding when his family was slain in the Tay Son revolt. After several changes of fortune in which his loyalists regained and again lost Saigon, he befriended the French Catholic priest Pigneau de Behaine. Pigneau recruited volunteers to help him take the throne. From 1789, he advanced north, defeating the Tay Son, reaching the Chinese border 1802, and reuniting all Vietnam, from China down to the Gulf of Siam, after centuries of feudal warfare. He took the regnal name Gia Long, moved the capital from Hanoi to Hue, and reinstated Confucian education and civil service. In return for French support, he tolerated Catholic missionaries, which was increasingly restricted under his successors. Using French expertise, he modernized Vietnam's military, gained dominance in Indochina, and made Cambodia into a vassal state.Gia Long
VN84043. Zinc Cash (7 Phan), Barker 99.11, Toda 213, SCWC KM 173a, Schroeder 441, VF, thin patina and earthen deposits, weight 2.625 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, 1 Jun 1802 - 3 Feb 1820; obverse Gia Long Thong Bao; reverse That phan (right to left, seven phan); $18.00 (15.30)

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Rebels of the Tran Dynasty, Rebel Nhut Le, 1368 - 1370

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When King Du-Tong died in 1368 without leaving a successor to the throne, the pretender Nhut-Le appeared as a pretender. He was the son of an actress, who married Prince Cung, Du-Tong's brother. Nhut-le, supported by his mother and by some officials of the palace, was proclaimed king in the capital and took Cam-Thieu for the name of his reign. His government lasted until late 1370, when the proper king took the palace by storm, and took Nhut-le prisoner, and then put him to death by bambooing.
VN86972. Copper cash, Toda 24, Hartill -, aF, dark patina, weight 1.793 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1368 - 1370; obverse Cam Thieu Nguyen Bao; reverse plain, no rims; $16.00 (13.60)

Dai Viet (Northern Vietnam), The Mac Dynasty, c. 1540 - 1590

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In A Guide to Cash Coins, pages 142 - 143, David Hartill provides convincing evidence attributing this type to the Mac in the north, cast from c. 1540 - 1590.
VN83975. Bronze cash, Hartill Cash, small copper, distinct calligraphy group 1 (An Phap Type), 2.822; cf. Toda 17 (running script nguyen), Barker 13.1 - 13.2 (larger), aVF, dark patina, chalky highlighting deposit dusting, weight 1.245 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, 1540 - 1590; obverse Nguyen Phong Thong Bao, in seal script; reverse plain, no rim; $16.00 (13.60)

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Later Le Dynasty, Le Thang Tong, 1460 - 1497

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Le Thanh Tong was the 5th emperor of the Later Le dynasty. His elder half brother, Nghi Dan, staged a coup and killed the 18 year old emperor in 1459 and nine months later, was killed by court officials. Le Thang Tong, was asked to become the new emperor and he accepted. Le Thanh Tong was the most prominent of all the Le rulers and one of the greatest Emperors in Vietnamese history. His rule was one of the high points in the history of Vietnam, the time of a "Flood of Virtue". He instituted a wide range of government, legal and land reforms. He reduced the power of the noble families and the degree of corruption in the government. He built temples to Confucius throughout Vietnam. In nearly all respects, his reforms mirrored those of the Song dynasty.
VN86959. Copper cash, Barker 36.15, VF, attractive green patina, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 4.417 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 0o, 1470 - 1497; obverse Hong Duc Thong Bao; reverse plain; $14.00 (11.90)

Dai Nam (Vietnam), Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen Thanh Thai, 2 February 1889 - 3 September 1907

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Emperor Thanh Thai bitterly opposed French control of Vietnam and maintained passive resistance. A man of the people who cared deeply for his country, he would often slip out of the Forbidden Purple City in Hue dressed in the clothes of a commoner to talk with his people directly and see how they were being affected by government policies. He also held "town hall" style meetings sitting on a mat with his subjects in a circle around him, discussing the issues of the day and hearing their point of view. When he realized his palace had been thoroughly infiltrated with French spies, he feigned insanity to escape constant scrutiny. Seen as a harmless lunatic, Thanh Thai was able to work for Vietnamese autonomy while waiting for the right time to throw off colonial rule. He was on his way to join a resistance movement in China when he was arrested by French forces who declared him insane and forced him to abdicate. In 1907, his son was installed as Emperor Duy Tan. He was exiled first to Vung Tau in South Vietnam and when Duy Tan rebelled against the French they were both exiled to Halong Island in 1916. He never gave up hope for the liberation of his country. In 1945, he was allowed to return home but was kept under house arrest in Vung Tau. Thanh Thai died in Saigon on 24 March 1954. Thanh_Thai
VN86941. Copper cash, Barker 107.9, aVF, shiny golden color, weight 2.798 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 0o, 2 Feb 1889 - 3 Sep 1907; obverse Thanh Thai Thong Bao; reverse plain; $12.00 (10.20)




Barker, A. The Historical Cash Coins of Viet Nam. (Singapore, 2004).
Greenbaum, C. The Nguyn Ho Era Coins of Vietnam (1533-1548 AD). (Nantes, 2013).
Krause, C.L. & C. Mishler. Standard Catalog of World Coins. (Iola, WI, 2010 - ).
Krisadaolarn, R. & V. Milhailovs. Siamese Coins: From Funan to the Fifth Reign. (Bangkok, 2012).
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).
Mitchiner, M. "Some Early Annamese Cash" in NC XI. (London. 1971).
Novak, J. A Working Aid for Collectors of Annamese Coins. (Merced, CA, 1989).
Schroeder, A. Albert Schroeder's Gold and Silver Coins of Annam. (London, 1968).
Toda, E. Annam and its Minor Currency. (1882).

Catalog current as of Saturday, February 16, 2019.
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