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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.


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; $20.00 (17.00)


Dai Viet (Vietnam), The Rebel Pham Su On, 1390 - 1391 A.D.

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Rebel Pham Su On was a Buddhist monk who in 1390 proclaimed himself king under the name Thien-Than and called on farmers in Quoc Oai to rebel. For some time no royal troops opposed him and he was able to recruit a large army. He surrounded and captured the capitol Thang Long (Hanoi) in December 1391. After reigning in the capitol for only three days, he was defeated and captured by the Tran General Hoang. Pham Su On was put to death by being slowly cut to pieces.
VN83968. Bronze 1 cash, Toda 29; cf. Barker 121.1 (coins under study) and 139 (other coins of interest), VF, center hole round, thin flan holed with several small casting gaps, weight 1.281 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, c. 1391 A.D.; obverse Thien Thanh nguyen bao, Thein and Thanh in regular script, nguyen and bao in seal characters; reverse plain; $18.00 (15.30)


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

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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, unknown mint, c. 1600 - 1700 A.D.; 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 A.D.

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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 A.D.; obverse Thanh Nguyen Thong Bao, seal script; reverse plain, no rim, hole nearly round; $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, Krause KM173a, 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 (northern Vietnam), The Mac Dynasty, c. 1540 - 1590 A.D.

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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, 1225 - 1258; obverse Nguyen Phong Thong Bao, in seal script; reverse plain, no rim; $16.00 (13.60)


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. 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. Unfortunately, some of these mints 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
VN83962. Zinc cash, Barker 85.1, Toda 285, VF, weight 2.101 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, 1746 - 1765; obverse Thien Minh Thong Bao; reverse plain; $16.00 (13.60)


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

Click for a larger photo
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. 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. Unfortunately, some of these mints 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
VN83963. Zinc cash, Barker 85.2, Toda 285, VF, weight 2.032 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, 1746 - 1765; obverse Thien Minh Thong Bao; reverse plain, thin raised rim on edge; $16.00 (13.60)


Kingdom of Vietnam, The Nguyen Emperors, Nguyen Duy Tan, 1907 - 1916 A.D.

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The Nguyen Dynasty was the last ruling family of Vietnam. Their rule lasted a total of 143 years. It began in 1802, when Emperor Gia Long ascended the throne after defeating the Ty Son dynasty, and ended in 1945, when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated the throne and transferred power to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Nguyen Duy Tan was the 11th emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. He was placed on the throne by the French when he was 8 years old. He was intelligent and became a nationalist with his resentment of the French occupation. A planned uprising was reported to the French and he was deposed and exiled to an African island.
VN86937. Bronze Cash (10 Phan), Barker 108.1, Novak 308, Lecompte 24, aVF, brassy alloy, areas of reddish toning, some porosity, weight 3.944 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 0o, 1907 - 1916 A.D.; obverse Duy Tan thong bao; reverse Van Shi (10,000 or 10 Van, basic currency unit); $14.00 (11.90)


Giao Chi (Chinese Occupied Northern Vietnam), Le-Loi's War of Independence, 1414 - 1428

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The Chinese invaded Dai Ngu (northern Vietnam) in 1407, and, after seven years of resistance from rebels and Annamese who remained loyal to the last two Tran Dynasty kings, they occupied the country, and it was formally annexed to China as Giao Chi. Le Loi began his campaign against the Ming Empire on the day after Tet (New Year) in February 1418. By 1427, the original Ming army of occupation had been ground down and destroyed. The new Ming ruler, the Xuande Emperor, wished to end the war, but his advisors convinced him to send a massive army (some 100,000 strong) into Giao Chi. The final campaign did not start well for the Ming forces. Le Loi's forces staged a mock retreat. The Ming general, Liu Sheng, urging his troops forward, was cut off from the main part of his army, captured and executed. Then, by sending false reports of dissent within the ranks of Le Loi's generals, the Ming army was lured to Hanoi where it was surrounded and destroyed in a series of battles. The Ming army lost over 90,000 men (60,000 killed and 30,000 captured). During Le-Loi's rebellion several coin types were cast for the payment of his followers. They are all of diminutive size, and the copper employed varies in color according to the provinces wherein the coins were cast.
VN83972. Bronze cash, Toda 48, Barker -, aVF, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 1.209 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, rebel mint, 1417 - 1428; obverse Tri Thanh Binh Bao, regular script; reverse plain, no rim, hole nearly round; $12.00 (10.20)




  



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REFERENCES

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 Wednesday, December 12, 2018.
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