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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Asian Coins| ▸ |Vietnam||View 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 (35.20)

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
VN83965. Zinc cash, Barker 85.1, Toda 285, VF, earthen deposits, weight 1.703 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, 1746 - 1765; obverse Thien Minh Thong Bao; reverse plain; $20.00 (17.60)

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 (15.84)

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 (15.84)

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 (10.56)

Vietnam, Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen Thanh To (Minh Mang), 14 February 1820 - 20 January 1841

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Minh Mang was the second emperor of the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam, reigning from 14 February 1820 until his death, on 20 January 1841. He was well known for his opposition to French involvement in Vietnam and his rigid Confucian orthodoxy. He banned missionaries from Vietnam and seven missionaries were sentenced to death.

During the reign of Minh Mang a substantial quantity of zinc coins were issued. They are of the same general style and calligraphy as the copper coins.
Minh Mang
VN84010. Zinc cash, Barker 101.27, Toda 228, VF, thick patina, weight 2.616 g, maximum diameter 2.35 mm, 1820 - 1841; obverse Minh Mang Thong Bao, large closed Minh; reverse plain; $10.00 (8.80)

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Tay Son Dynasty, Nguyen Nhac (Thai Duc), 1778 - 1788

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Tay Son and Tay Son Dynasty, refer to the period of peasant rebellions and decentralized dynasties established between the end of the figurehead Le dynasty in 1770 and the beginning of the Nguyen dynasty in 1802. The name of the rebel leaders' home district, Tay Son, came to be applied to the leaders themselves. Nguyen Nhac was the oldest of the three Nguyen brothers from Tay Son village and the founder of the Tay Son rebellion. He proclaimed himself emperor in 1778 and took the reign title of Thai Duc. Nguyen Nhac and his brothers, the leaders of the Tay Son rebellion, conquered Vietnam, overthrowing the imperial Later Le dynasty and the two rival feudal houses of the Nguyen in the south and the Trinh in the north.
VN86936. Bronze cash, Barker 91.6, VF, dark patina, porous and pitting, edge cracks and sand hole, weight 2.638 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, 1778 - 1788; obverse Thai Duc thong bao; reverse dot (star) above hole, crescent (moon) below hole; $9.00 (7.92)

Dai Nam (Vietnam), Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen Duc Tong (Tu Duc), 5 October 1847 - 19 July 1883

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Nguyen Duc Tong, reign name Tu Duc, is regarded as the last Emperor of Vietnam to rule independently. Tu Duc oppressed foreigners in Vietnam, especially Christians. He ordered Vietnamese Catholic converts to renounce their religion, or surrender all rights and be branded on the face. After a Spanish bishop was executed, France responded with a large attack from the south. The Nguyen army fought bravely, but their antiquated weapons and tactics were no match for the French. Tu Duc called upon his Manchu over-lord, the Qing Emperor, for help, resulting in the Sino-French War. France was victorious. China surrendered its position as feudal master of Vietnam. Faced with numerous rebellions and the advancing French, since the rebels would most likely depose or kill him, Tu Duc made a deal with the French. He signed away southernmost Vietnam to be a French colony and accepted the status of a French protectorate. Many Vietnamese refused to recognize the treaty and fought on, denouncing Tu Duc for surrendering part of their homeland. Tu Duc died in 1883, supposedly cursing the French with his dying breath. A case of smallpox left him impotent so he had no children despite a huge harem of wives. His adopted son Duc Duc was deposed by court officials after a reign of three days.Tu Duc
VN86975. Copper cash, Barker 103.1, F, earthen and chalky deposits, scratches and pitting, weight 2.697 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, 5 Oct 1847 - 19 Jul 1883; obverse Tu Duc Thong Bao; reverse plain; $9.00 (7.92)

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Le Kings under the Trinh, Le Hien Tong, 1740 - 1786

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Le Hien Tong, born Le Duy Hieu, was the second-last emperor of Vietnamese Le Dynasty and ruled for 36 years. During his reign, large numbers of coins were issued in many varieties. The Le Emperors were considered just figureheads (puppets) for the ruling Trinh Lords, from 1573 - 1788 after the Trinh Lord, Trinh Kiem, defeated the Mac Dynasty leaders.
VN86942. Copper cash, Barker 68.44, aVF, golden and light green patina, casting mark on reverse, weight 3.450 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1740 - 1776; obverse Canh Hung Thong Bao, small bird Canh; reverse plain; $8.00 (7.04)

Dai Viet (Vietnam), Le Kings under the Trinh, Le Hien Tong, 1740 - 1786

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Le Hien Tong, born Le Duy Hieu, was the second-last emperor of Vietnamese Le Dynasty and ruled for 36 years. During his reign, large numbers of coins were issued in many varieties. The Le Emperors were considered just figureheads (puppets) for the ruling Trinh Lords, from 1573 - 1788 after the Trinh Lord, Trinh Kiem, defeated the Mac Dynasty leaders.
VN86946. Copper cash, Barker 68.15, aVF, attractive green patina, earthen highlighting deposits, pitting, weight 4.033 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 0o, 1740 - 1776; obverse Canh Hung Thong Bao, one dot square head Thong, small field, broad rim; reverse plain; $8.00 (7.04)




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 Monday, November 11, 2019.
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