THE ANCIENT CHINA NUMISMATIC HISTORY COLLECTIONS PART THREE

THIS THE SAMPLE OF E-BOOK IN CD-ROM,THE COMPLETE CD EXIST BUT ONLY FOR PREMIUM MEMBER

 

TANG DYNASTY
AD 618 to 907

The death of Yang Ti of Sui resulted in a civil war from which Li Yuan (of Western Wei) and his son Li Shih-min arose victorious, establishing the T’ang dynasty and extending the unification of China for another 300 years. Li Yuan, adopting the title T’ang Kao Tsu, ruled from AD 618-626 then abdicated in favor of his son Li Shih-min who adopted the title T’ai Tsung and ruled from AD 627 to 649. Both were able rules under whom T’ang began its rise to greatness. The next 300 years was a time of relative calm, prosperity and enlightenment with the cultural arts dominating over the military arts.


 

EMPERORS OF T’ANG

RULER

DATES

Kao Tsu
also known as Li Yuan

AD 618 – 626

T’ai Tsung
also known as Li Shih-min

AD 627-649

Kao Tsung

AD 649-683

Chung Tsung

AD 684-690

Wu Tsu-t’ien
Empress

AD 690-705

Chung Tsung
2nd reign

AD 705-710

Juei Tsung

AD 710-712

Li Lung-Chi
also known as Hsuan Tsung (Ming Hsuan)

AD 712-756

?????
son of Li Lung-chi

AD 756

Su Tsung
(full control)   (nominal control)

AD 756-757
AD 758-761

Shih Su-ming
rebel

AD 757-761

Tai Tsung

AD 762-779

Te Tsung

AD 780-805

Hien Tsung

AD 806-820

Mu Tsung

AD 821-824

?????

AD 824-827

Wen Tsung

AD 827-841

Wu Tsung

AD 841-846

Siuan Tsung

AD 847-855

?????

AD 856-859

Yi Tsung

AD 860-873

Hi Tsung

AD 874-888

Chao Tsung

AD 889-904

Chou We
through puppet emperor Ngai Tsung

AD 905-907

 

Considering the almost 300 years and over 20 emperors of the T’ang Dynasty, the coinage is fairly conservative with only a few distinctive issues. For the most part, the standard K’ai-yuan type was all that circulated. For those emperors that issued coins, or emperors with important historical interest, a discussion follows.


 

Emperor LI YUAN
AD 618-626

Reign title: T’ang Kao Tsu, AD 618-626

 

The K’ai-yuan coinage, usually attributed to T’ANG KAO TSU, was cast almost continuously throughout the 300 years of T’ang rule, with the only major change the addition of mint marks in AD 841.

 

S-312+. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” (Currency of the K’ai-yuan period). Reverse blank. There are three major variations of the character “Yuan”. Average (17 specimens) 25 mm, 4.1 grams.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00     XF   $6.50

 

S-406. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” (Currency of the K’ai-yuan period). Reverse blank. Schjoth’s sepecimen was 24 mm, 4.02 grams. Rare and of uncertain date. Value not established.

 

The general fabric and style of K’ai-yuan was the same as that introduced with the Wu shu of the Sui dynasty, but at an average of between 3.0 and 4.0 grams they are heavier. Wu (5) Shu was no longer expressed on the coins, but K’ai-yuans are Wu Shus by another name, cast to the official weight standard of 0.65 grams per shu rather than the coinage standard of 0.50 grams, an experiment seen earlier on the Ssu-shu issue of Emperor Wen, introduced in AD 430, as well as several other issues of that period. This was an enlightened move as, with no profit in casting full weight coins, counterfeiting was only profitable when light-weight coins were cast, which are more difficult to pass. The experiment must have worked as light-weight examples are seldom encountered. The economic stability thus created probably contributed greatly to the success of the T’ang Dynasty.

We do not actually know what the new denomination was called when first introduced, but it may have simply been known as a “K’ai-yuan”. We know that some future dynasties called it that and even issued larger coins with the denomination designated in multiple “K’ai-yuan”, but today this is the denomination we call the “Cash”, which remained the basic denomination of China until the late 19th century.

There are hundreds of minor varieties, from subtle differences in calligraphy to various small crescents, lines and dots on the reverses. These differences probably identified specific issues, but the meanings of these codes have probably been lost forever. We are compiling a list of the major varieties in the hope that some pattern will emerge, but there is no guarantee of success.

 

S-312 variety with a star-shaped hole. “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. The star-shaped hole is created by turning the center hole 45 degrees with respect to the inner rim. This occurs on so many different issues that it must be intentional, but the meaning is uncertain. Sometimes the star hole is combined with reverse symbols, in which case the example is worth a small premium.

F   $6.00     VF   $8.00     XF   $10.00


 

SINGLE REVERSE CHARACTER

 

S-315+. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: single crescent, line or dots in any of various positions. We have no records of relative rarity for the varieties, so at the this time cannot assign any differences in value.

F   $4.00     VF   $6.00     XF   $8.00

 

The exact position of these marks can vary from coin to coin, and we cannot be certain a crescent tilting slightly left or right is intentional or simply a minor shift in position. It is likely many types exist for each of the major calligraphy variations of “YUAN”, which is certainly of significance. Our research in this area is just beginning and it is far too early to draw any conclusions as to the meanings.

TOP

crescent out

crescent in

crescent out
sl left

crescent out
sl right

crescent in
sl right

dot

             

TOP RIGHT

crescent out

         
             

RIGHT

crescent out

crescent in
sl down

vertical bar

     
             

BOTTOM RIGHT

crescent out

 

crescent left

     
             

BOTTOM

crescent out

 

crescent out
sl left

crescent out
sl right

crescent left

 
             

BOTTOM LEFT

crescent out

crescent in

       
             

LEFT

crescent out

crescent in

vertical bar

     
             

TOP LEFT

NONE NOTED

         

 

* out – faces outer rim.    * in – faces inner rim     * sl left or right – tilts in that direction.
* the vertical bar may actually be a crescent with a very shallow curve.

 

We have not yet recorded an example with a single symbol in the top left corner, but all other positions exist with at least an outward facing crescent. One may turn up, but if not, this must have some significance.


 

TWO REVERSE CHARACTERS

 

S-335+. Bronze 1 cash. “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: two symbols (crescents, dots or lines) in various positions (less common than single-symbol types). We have handled one variety with crescents at top and bottom. The listed values are for that type. Some of the other types are scarcer.

F   $12.00     VF   $14.00     XF   $18.00

 

TOP & BOTTOM

thin crescents out

thick crescent out

     

LEFT & RIGHT

thin crescents out

crescents out left, dot right

     

TWO AT TOP

dot inside crescent out

 
     

TOP & RIGHT

crescents out

 
     

TOP LEFT & RIGHT CORNERS

crescent out in each corner

 

 

* out – faces outer rim.     in – faces inner rim

 

Schjoth lists a few examples with small dots in various positions on the obverse. We assume these to be casting defects of little significance and will include them only if we find out otherwise.


 

Emperor KAO TSUNG
AD 649-683

Kao Tsung, son of T’ai Tsung, extended Chinese control over much of Korea and part of Manchuria. He defeated the Japanese fleet, ending Japanese influence on the mainland for many years. The later years of his reign saw his father’s concubine, Wu Tsu-t’ien, asserting power, probably ruling from behind the scenes. She proved ruthless, eventually seizing power in her own name (AD 705-710).

 

Title: Ch’ien-feng, AD 666-??

K’ai-yuan was probably the basic coinage of this period, but another issue was cast.

 

  S-350-351. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-FENG CH’UAN-PAO” (Currency of the Ch’ien-feng period). Reverse: blank. Average (3 specimens) 4.68 grams, 25.4 mm, slightly larger and heavier than the normal K’ai-yuans.

VF   $135.00

We have not found out why this fiduciary 10 cash was cast, but the experiment seems to have failed with these coins being cast only briefly in AD 666.


 

Rebel Emperor SHIH SU-MING
AD 757-761

The rebel Shih Su-ming declared himself Emperor in AD 757 after killing Li Lung-chi’s son. He controlled a large area including the T’ang capital at Lo-yang, may have held more power than the official T’ang Emperor. As such, one could consider him to be the real ruler of T’ang during this short period period, during which he issued some interesting coins.

 

  S-407, FD-747. Bronze value 100 cash. Obverse: “TE-YI YUAN-PAO” (the currency of unity). Reverse: crescent opening upwards at the top. Average (3 specimens) 35.9 mm, 18.98 grams (but the weights vary quite a bit).

F   $125.00     VF   $175.00

 

FD-747, as S-407 but reverse blank. Bronze value 100 cash. Obverse: “TE-YI YUAN-PAO” (the currency of unity). Reverse: Blank. 35.5 mm. The one specimen we have handled of this type weighed 11.9 grams.

F   $110.00     VF   $145.00

 

  S-409, Bronze value 100 cash. Obverse: “SHUN-T’IEN YUAN PAO” (a currency agreeable to heaven). Reverse: crescent opening upwards at the top. Average (4 specimens) 36.5 mm, 20.12 grams.

F   $65.00     VF   $85.00     XF   $110.00

 

At 36-37 mm and about 20 grams these are both fiduciary issues, circulating at 20 times the value in their copper content.

Schjoth reports an example of this type (S-410) with an incuse “WANG” on the reverse. We have never seen one, and consider the use of an incuse character on coin like this to be suspect. It is possible the character was engraved into the reverse privately, long after the coin was cast.


 

Emperor SU TSUNG
AD 756-762

Reign title: CH’IEN-YUAN, AD 758-762

 

While the rebel Shih Su-ming ruled much of China, the legitimate T’ang emperor Su Tsung worked to restore order. In 758 he cast high denomination fiduciary coins to finance the war, but they proved a financial disaster.

 

  S-355. Bronze 50 cash (?). Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO” (Heavy currency of Ch’ien-yuan). Reverse: blank except for double rims. Average (6 specimens) 35 mm, 14.6 grams.

F   $25.00     VF   $35.00     XF   $48.00

 

At 35 mm and averaging around 14.6 grams, these contain only 4 cash worth of metal but were issued with a circulating value of 50 cash. The resulting inflation and wide spread counterfeiting of lower weight coins, caused great hardship. The coins were quickly devalued to 30 cash, which was not enough to stop the inflation and counterfeiting, and must have been a nightmare for anyone in possession of them from prior to the devaluation.

 

S-356-7. Bronze 50 cash ?. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO” (Heavy currency of Ch’ien-yuan). Reverse: crescent and double rims. 33 mm. Schjoth’s two specimens weighed 10.73 and 12.92 grams. It is unclear if these were still valued at 50 cash, or were issued at the reduced 30 cash denomination. We have not yet established a value for this type.

 

S-358. Bronze 50 cash (?). Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO” (Heavy currency of Ch’ien-yuan). Reverse: “CHI” (?) and double rims. 33 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighted only 7.92 grams while Mitchiner’s (#3398) was 13.5 grams. There is some question if the character on the back is really “CHI”, as on some specimens it is not solid and sometimes described as a cloud or even a bird. We have not yet established a value for this type, but it is scarce.

 

The effects of coinage debasement can be seen throughout history. One need only look around today’s world to see how leaving the gold standard (effectively token coinage replacing silver and gold) has resulted in inflation in every country on eatch, and major economic devastation in many countries. The saying “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” certainly applies here.

 

By AD 759, smaller versions were cast of this coinage was cast, at first at a five cash (30 mm, 7.5 grams) denomination, which was later devalued to devalued to two cash reflecting it’s true metal value of 2 cash.

  S-352. Bronze 5 or 2 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (4 specimens) 30 mm, 7.92 grams.

F   $12.00     VF   $17.00     XF   $27.00

 

There is also a rare series within this issue with what is sometimes referred to as an Auspicious Cloud on the reverse. At this point, we have not been able to determine the true reason or meaning behind these rare coins.

 

Shangi Encyclopedia #684. Bronze 5 or 2 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO” (Heavy currency of Ch’ien-yuan). Reverse: Auspicious Cloud at the bottom, double rims. The only specimen we have handled of this type was 31 mm, 7.1 grams.

   gVF   $450.00

 

finally some time around AD 760 the Ch’ien-Yuan Chung-pao coinage was issued as a one cash denomination, ending this brief experiment in feduciary coinage.

S-353. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank with single rim. Average (2 specimens) 24.5 mm, 3.42 grams.

VG   $5.00     F   $7.50     VF   $12.50

 

  S-361-3. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO”. Reverse: single rim and crescent (several varieties are known with the crescents in various positions. 24-25 mm, 3 to 3.5 grams).

VG   $6.50     F   $10.00     VF   $15.00

 

S-364. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YUAN CHUNG-PAO”. Reverse: a character possibly reading “YEN” and a single rim. Schjoth speculates this type was cast at Yen-chou-fu in Shantung. We have not yet established a value for this type.

Soon after these 1 cash Ch’ien-Yuan Chung-pao coins were issued, they were discontinued in favour of a return to the earlier Kai-yuan coinage, which helped re-introduced which re-established some degree economic stability. By AD 762 the rebel Emperor Shih Su-ming had been defeated and the capital of Lo-yang was was once again under the control of the rightful emperor Su Tsung. But soon after Su Tsung also died and the T’ang entered a period of decline during which real power shifting to the Court eunuchs.


 

Emperor TE TSUNG
AD 780-805

S-365. White brass 10 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: blank. Schjoth (page 23) reports that in the 1st year of Chien-Chung, at Kuangtung mint, large K’ai-yuan coins were cast of white brass. We have never seen one of these, but he lists a specimen of 41 mm weighing 24.65 grams. This is at the lowest acceptable weight for a 10 cash, indicating this was not a fiduciary coinage. We cannot suggest a value for such a coin at this time.


 

Emperor WU TSUNG
AD 841-846

Reign title: HUI-CH’ANG, AD 841 – ?

Schjoth notes (page 23) in the first year of Hui-ch’ang (AD 841) many Buddhist monasteries were destroyed. The copper bells and images were melted and cast into coins. Li Shen, revenue commissioner of Yang-chou, received permission to place the character “ch’ang”, short for Hui-ch’ang, on the reverse. It is likely this was done at other mints as well.

 

S-366. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “Ch’ang” (indicating a coin struck in the year “Hui-ch’ang” (AD 841). This seems to be the only dated coin of the T’ang dynasty.

VG   $4.00     F   $12.50     VF   $17.50

 

As with almost all K’ai Yuan coins with reverse characters, the reverse character will be somewhat weaker than the rest of the coin on this type (as explained below). We hope to replace this illustration with a better one when an example comes available.


 

K’AI-YUANS WITH MINT MARKS

Late in AD 841 it was decided to replace “Ch’ang” marks indicating the mint of issue. These mint marks were hand stamped into each mould, after impressing the main coin, with the result that they are often stamped deeper into the mould than the balance of the coin, becoming the high point on the coin and subject to the most wear. Others were poorly impressed and difficult to read on even the highest grade specimens. Only occasionally is one encountered with the mint mark as clear as the obverse, so our valuations assume the mint mark to be one grade lower than that of the obverse. Especially weak or strong mint marks affect the values accordingly.

REF.

MARK

MINT

VALUATION

S-367

Ching (at top)

Ching-chao
in Lo-yang

not yet determined

S-368

Ching (at top) (star hole)

Ching-chao
in Lo-yang

F   $14.00
VF   $20.00

S-369

Ching (at top)
(crescent below)

Ching-chao
in Lo-yang

F   $10.00
VF   $16.00

S-370-371

Lo (at top)
S-370 – round hole

Lo-yang in Honan

F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

Lo (at top)
S-371 -star hole

Lo-yang in Honan

F   $14.00
VF   $20.00

S-372

Yi (at top)

Hsi-ch’uan
(Ch’eng-tu in Szechuan)

F   $12.50

S-373

Lan (at right)

Lan-t’ien
(Hsi-an-fu in Shansi)

F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

S-377

Lan (at left)
(crescent at top)

Lan-t’ien
(Hsi-an-fu in Shansi)

not yet determined

S-380

Hsiang (at top)

Hsiang-chou
in Chihli

F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

S-381

Hsiang (at right)

Hsiang-chou
in Chihli

not yet determined

S-382

Ching (at right)

Ching-chou
in Hupei

not yet determined

S-383

Yueh (at bottom)

Yueh-chou
in Chekiang

VG   $7.00
F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

S-384

Hsuan (at left)

Hsuan-chou
in Anhui

F   $15.00
VF   $22.50

S-385

Hung – (at top)

Lin-chiang Fu
in Kiangsi

F   $12.50

S-386

Hung – (sideways at right)

Lin-chiang Fu
in Kiangsi

not yet determined

S-387

Hung – (sideways at right)
(crescent at top)

Lin-chiang Fu
in Kiangsi

not yet determined

S-388

Hung – (sideways at left)
(crescent at top)

Lin-chiang Fu
in Kiangsi

not yet determined

S-389

Hung – (upside down
at bottom)

Lin-chiang Fu
in Kiangsi

not yet determined

S-390

T’an (at left)

Ch’ang-shu
in Hunan

F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

S-391

Yen (at top)

Yen-chou Fu
in Shantung

not yet determined

S-393-394

Jun (at top)
S-393 – round hole

Chinkiang
in Kiangsu

VG   $7.00
F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

Jun (at top)
S-394 – star hole

Chinkiang
in Kiangsu

not yet determined

S-395

O-chou (at top)

Wu-ch’ang
in Hupei

not yet determined

S-396

P’ing (at top)

P’ing-chou
(Yung-p’ing fu in Chihli)

VF   $80.00

S-397

P’ing (at top)
(crescent at bottom)

P’ing-chou
(Yung-p’ing fu in Chihli)

not yet determined

S-398

Hsing (at top)

Feng-hsiang Fu
in Shansi

VG   $7.00
F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

S-399

Liang (at bottom)

Liang-chou
in North Hupei

not yet determined

S-400

Kuang (at right)

Kuang-chou Fu
in Kuangtung

not yet determined

S-402-3

Tzu (at top).
There are a number of variations
on this character.

Tung-ch’uan Fu
in Szechuan

F   $12.50
VF   $17.50

S-404

Tan (at top)

Tan-chou
in Shensi

F   $99.50

FD-734

Gui (at top)

???

F   $50.00

 

These coins are all bronze 1 cash with “K’AI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” on the obverse
and are about 24 mm and between 3 and 4 grams.

 

We assume, but are not certain, that the K’ai-yuans with blank or symbol reverses were not cast once the mint mark came into use. The mint mark issues probably continued until the end of the T’ang Period.

Chao Tsung, the last real T’ang emperor, was assassinated by Chou Wen in AD 904. After placing Ngai Tsung on the throne as a puppet emperor, Chou Wen was in control but in AD 907 he deposed Ngai Tsung, establishing himself as Emperor of his new Posterior Liang Dynasty and bringing the period of T’ang to a close.

 

PERIOD OF THE FIVE DYNASTIES
AND TEN KINGDOMS

The fall of T’ang plunged China into turmoil, with power shifted through a series of dynasties, culminating in the establishment of the Northern Sung dynasty. Direct transfer of power from T’ang to Northern Sung involved five dynasties, but at least another 10 dynasties existed and influenced the history of this period.

Only some of the roughly fifteen dynasties are known to have issued coins, but the numismatic history of this period is rich and complex. There are many very rare issues that are not listed in the standard reference books, including some which have not yet been fully identified. We have started by listing only the more well-known issues, but when time permits we will be including more of the rare ones.

The following outline gives the sequence of events that led to the establishment of the Northern Sung Dynasty. It is beyond the scope of this site to include a detailed history.

AD 907

The last T’ang Emperor is killed, and Chu Wen establishes the Posterior Liang. Taking advantage of the resulting confusion, Li K’o Yang establishes the rival Posterior T’ang dynasty. Both dynasties are caught up in internal power struggles. Chun Wang becomes the second emperor when he assassinates his own father in AD 914.

AD 923

The Posterior Liang Dynasty ends as Chun Wang is overthrown by Lo Tsun Hsu, son of the Posterior T’ang emperor Li K’o Yang. Lo Tsun Hsu becomes Emperor of Posterior T’ang in AD 927.

AD 936

Posterior Chin begins when Shih ching T’ang, a Turkish general in the Posterior T’ang army, conducts a coup from within, with the help of the Khitan border tribe.

AD 947

After eleven years of receiving annual tribute for their help in establishing the Posterior Chin dynasty, the Khitan disposed of Shih Chin T’ang, leaving the Posterior Chin throne vacant. Another Turkish general, Liu Chih Yuan, using the title Kao Tsu, established the Posterior Han. Fearing the Khitan, he immediately declared war and defeated them, but died the following year leaving his son on the throne (we have not found his name).

AD 950

A coalition of generals killed Liu Chih Yuan’s son, taking control of Posterior Han.

AD 951

The leader of the coalition, Kou Wei, established the Posterior Zhou dynasty. Power transferred, in AD 954, to Kou Wei (his adopted son) who was in turn killed in AD 959, by his chief General Chao K’ung Yin.

AD 960

Chao K’uang Yin took the reign title T’ai Tsu, as first Emperor of the Northern Sung Dynasty.

 

Some of the additional dynasties that existed during this period were:

Liao (AD 907-1125)
Anterior Shu (AD 907-960/976)
Southern Han (AD 917-942)
Northern Han (AD 950-976/997)
Southern Tang (AD 907-978)
and Ch’u (AD 930-970’s)

 

POSTERIOR HAN DYNASY

Emperor KAO TSU
AD 947-948

“Kao Tsu” was also the name adopted by the first T’ang Emperor. We have to assume this name was chosen to imply a connection to the family T’ang, thus establishing his right to rule. This name was also adopted by the first emperors of Anterior Shu, Posterior Liang and Posterior Chin, presumably for the same reason.

There is a record (Schjoth page 25) that in AD 947 mints were set up at the Posterior Han capital. In order to cast enough coins to pay the army, all copper was called in. This also had the result of suppressing counterfeiting by removing the raw materials from the hands of the counterfeiters.

 

S-411. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HAN-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. 2.94 grams. Schjoth’s specimen appears to have a dot in the lower right of the obverse.

VF     $45.00

 

  S-412-3. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HAN-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: crescent (S-412 with crescent at top, S-413 with crescent at bottom). Average (2 specimens) 24.1 mm. 3.57 grams.

F   $75.00     VF   $100.00

 

“Han-yuan” is a reference to the Han Dynasty, not a reign title. Issuing coins with this type of inscription is fairly common from about this time until the Northern Sung period. Schjoth had four specimens which averaged 3.48 grams, the same standard established during the T’ang Dynasty.

 

ANTERIOR SHU DYNASTY

Emperor KAO TSU
AD 907-918

“Kao Tsu” was also the name adopted by the first T’ang Emperor. We have to assume this name was chosen to imply a connection to the family T’ang, thus establishing his right to rule. This name was also adopted by the first emperors of Posterior Liang and Posterior Chin and Posterior Han, presumably for the same reason.

 

S-435. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-SHU T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.15 grams. We have not handled one of these and cannot provide a value at this time.

 

“Ta-shu” is not a reign title, but rather a reference to the “Great Shu” Dynasty. For some reason Schjoth does not attribute this coin to any particular emperor, but there is a pattern all through this period where the first issue of each dynasty has a reference of this nature rather than a reign title. We can see no reason not to attribute this coin to the earliest issue of Kao Tsu, probably in AD 907.


 

Reign title: T’UNG-CHENG, AD 911-912

 

S-429. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’UNG-CHENG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: crescent at top, dot at bottom. Average (2 specimens) 3.18 grams, 22.8 mm. We have seen specimens both with and without the star hole in the center.

F   $125.00     VF   $185.00

 

FD-771, as S-429 but reverse blank. Obverse: “T’UNG-CHENG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. The specimen we recently handled was 23.5 mm, 2.65 grams and had very poorly developed reverse rims.

VF   $185.00


 

Reign title: T’IEN-HAN, AD 912-913

Kao Tsu adopted the reign title T’ien-han in AD 912 and at the same time temporarily changed the name of the Dynasty to Han. The name was changed back within a year.

 

S-430. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-HAN YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: crescent at top. Average (4 specimens) 23 mm (range 22.5 to 24.0), 2.65 grams (range 2.0 to 3.1 grams). These tend to be somewhat crudely cast with a fairly broad range in size and weight.

F   $55.00     VF   $75.00


 

Reign title: KUANG-T’IEN, AD 913-915

S-431-2. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “KUANG-T’IEN YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.49 grams. From specimens of this type that we have recently handled, it appears that they type was fairly crudely and somewhat weakly cast.

F   $45.00     VF   $65.00


 

Emperor WANG YEN
AD 918-925

Reign title: CH’IEN-TE, AD 918-924

 

S-433. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-TE YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.04 grams.

VG   $12.50     F   $22.50

 

S-not listed. Hartill-not listed. FD-not listed by mention in his comments about #775). Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-TE YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimen) 24.2 mm, 3.77 grams (the specimen illustrated above is of this iron coin.

F   $75.00 (estimated only)


 

Reign title: HSIEN-K’ANG, AD 924-925

 

S-434, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIEN-K’ANG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (3 specimens) 24 mm, 3.07 grams. Schjoth (page 26) reports that these tend to be very poorly cast and quite ugly coins. We have never seen a really nice one.

VG   $60.00     F   $75.00     gF   $100.00

 

SOUTHERN HAN DYNASTY

Emperor: LIU YEN
AD 917-942

Reign title: CH’EIN-HENG, AD 917-942

 

Most coins of this reign title are of lead, with a fabric that suggests they are die struck, possibly with wooden dies, as they do not look at all like cast coins, with characters that are both very angular and shallow. There are two major variations on these coins that one occassionally see’s :

 

BLANK REVERSE S-436 to 438, 1 cash made of Lead, “CH’IEN-HENG CHUNG-PAO”, reverse: blank. Average 25.9 mm, 3.90 grams (These vary a little as Schjoth had three specimens ranging from 23 to 28 mm, averaging 3.7 grams).

F   $19.50    VF   $30.00     XF   $40.00

  FD-828, Lead 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-HENG CHUNG-PAO”. Reverse: “YONG” probably a mint mark. 25 mm, average (7 specimens) 4.2 grams.

F   $22.50     VF   $32.50

 

Although we have never seen one, Fisher’s Ding lists three examples of the “Ch’ien-heng” coins in bronze, as FD 829 to 831, where they are listed as being rare. The lead issues are normally seen grading VF or better, but are sometimes weakly cast (or struck). This suggests they saw little circulation, as any amount of circulation would quickly wear out a lead coin. It is doubtful people would have wanted to accept such an unusual issue that was obviously fiduciary.

 

SOUTHERN T’ANG DYNASTY
AD 937-978

The Southern T’ang Dynasty was one of the “Five Kingdoms” established during the turmoil following the fall of T’ang Dynasty. Controlling a large portion of China from their capital in Nanking, the dynasty was fairly successful, lasting until AD 978 when it was finally over run by T’ai Tsu who had established the Northern Sung Dynasty some 18 years earlier. Southern T’ang coins do not have reign titles on them, but we have listed the titles under which each type was cast. No coins were issued by the first Southern T’ang Emperor Lieh Tsu (AD 937 to 943) or under Yuan Tsung (AD 943 to 961) until about AD 955, so it is likely T’ang Dynasty Kai Yuan coins were still in use.


 

Emperor Yuan Tsung
AD 943-961

Reign title: Li Kung, AD 955 to 961

S-439. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “YUNG-T’UNG CH’UAN-HUO” (meaning Eternal Circulation Coin). Reverse: blank. This is a large coin at about 33 mm with Schjoth’s specimen weighing 14.48 grams. This is a rare type and we have never actually seen, and cannot currently provide a value for it. Variations on it exist in orthodox and seal scripts, and they are known in both bronze and lead. all variations are rare.

 

Li Kuang was fighting wars of expansion in Southern China, which caused a strain on the treasury. At the suggestion of minister Chung Mo, these fiduciary 10 cash coins were cast using 40% of official weight a full value 10 cash. As very few fiduciary coins had been issued in the previous 300 years, people were not used to the concept and would have refused to accept them, resulting in even further financial trouble for the treasury. Schjoth (page 26) quotes an old record of them having been quickly withdrawn, with the minister who suggesting issuing them (Chung Mo) incurring the displeasure of the Emperor, which probably means he was executed. They were replaced with the full value bronze 1 cash coins below.

 

S-440. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-T’ANG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script (meaning Great T’ang currency). Reverse: blank. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 2.16 grams and was about 21 mm, however a recent specimen we handled (illustrated above) was 4.45 grams and 23.7 mm. We are not yet sure if these are two different issues or (and more likely) Schjoth’s specimen may have been an light weight counterfeit of that time.

F   $55.00     VF   $85.00

 

The “Ta-T’ang” inscription would be expected on the earliest issues of the dynasty, usually the first or second year following it’s establishment, but in this case it is the second issue following the unsuccessful fiduciary 10 cash coins. Most major references indicate these were issued about AD 960 which is the year the Northern Sung dynasty was established and these may be a propaganda statement announcing the Southern T’ang was still strong in spite of the rise of the Sung.

 

S-441-442. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’ANG-KUO T’UNG-PAO” in seal script (meaning T’ang Kingdom Currency). Reverse: blank. Average 24-25 mm, average about 3.34 grams (based on 23 examples). This is a consistently well cast issue with clear characters.

VG   $3.00     F   $5.50     VF   $9.50

 

S-445. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’ANG-KUO T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script (meaning T’ang Kingdom Currency). Reverse: blank. 23-24 mm. Average (2 specimens) 3.77 grams, 25 mm. This type is normally fairly well cast.

VF   $42.50

 

Schjoth had two specimens, one of 2.2 grams and the other of 3.34 grams (our last specimens was 4.2 grams). It is highly likely the smaller specimen was a contemporary counterfeit and we have not included it in the average weight calculations.

 

FD-816, S-not listed. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’ANG-KUO T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: large dot. The specimen we recently handled as 23 mm and 3.15 grams.

VF   $135.00

 

The T’ang Kuo coins would probably be issued immediately after the Ta-T’ang coins, placing their first appearance in AD 961. On page 26, Schjoth records that that due to a money shortage these T’ang-kuo were valued at 1/2 Kai-yuan, which makes no sense as they are the same size and weight as a Kai-yuan. In a time time of shortage it would make much more sense if they were issued at a value of two Kai-yuan. Schjoth had an example with “WU” on the reverse (#443) which if genuine would suggest the intended denomination was 5 shu, which is a Kai-yuan, however there is reason to doubt the authenticity of that example and we have decided to leave it out of our listing.


 

Emperor LI YU
AD 961-978

The T’ang Kuo coins in seal script are far too common to be only a one year issue in AD 961, and it is likely were continued during the first year to two of Li Yu, until he replaced them with his Kai yuan coinage.

 

S-446, “KAI-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” in seal script (meaning “The Inaugural coinage”). This is a clear reference to the Kai-Yuan coins of the T’ang Dynasty, and shows they were issued at the Kai-Yuan denomination (5 shu). Reverse: blank. 25 mm, average (17 examples) 3.3 grams

F   $5.00     VF   $8.50     XF   $12.00

 

The old records indicate that 40% of Li’s issues were of iron, but these are seldom seen today.

 

POSTERIOR ZHOU DYNASTY
AD 951-960

Emperor SHIH TSUNG
AD 954-959

Because of a shortage of copper, in the second year of this reign (AD 955) Shih Tsung confiscated the bronze objects from 3360 monasteries, including all the images of Buddha, and cast them into coins. Many of these coins, being cast from melted-down images of Buddha and now are used as charms for midwives. The following year he ordered all publicly owned bronze to be turned in and forbade the casting of any bronze objects other than for official purposes, copying an order given in AD 947 by Emperor Kao Tsu of the Posterior Han Dynasty.

 

S-414, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “ZHOU-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. We have seen examples with star holes. Average (5 specimens) 3.83 grams and 24.5 mm (we have seen a range from 23.5 to 25.2 mm).

VG   $12.00     F   $16.00     VF   $22.00

 

Shih Tsung does not appear to have adopted a reign title. The “Zhou-yuan” inscription simply refers to the Zhou dynasty. This is a practice common to several dynasties in this era.

 

S-415-26. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “ZHOU-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: crescent, bar or dot in any one of several positions. We have only seen a few of the types, but assume they are all of about the same value.

F   $22.00     VF   $37.50

 

The following variations have been noted:

POSITION

   

TOP

.

.

.

TOP RIGHT

crescent

.

.

RIGHT

crescent

bar

dot

BOTTOM RIGHT

crescent

.

 

BOTTOM

crescent

bar

.

BOTTOM LEFT

crescent

.

.

LEFT

crescent

bar

dot

TOP LEFT

crescent

.

.

 

S-427. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “ZHOU-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: crescent at the top and a dot at the bottom. We cannot provide a value for this variety at this time.

 

S-428. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “ZHOU-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “MI” at the top. This is thought to be a mint mark for Mi-yuan at Shun-t’ien Fu in Chihli. We cannot provide a value for this variety at this time, but it should be worth more than the other types.

 

Schjoth had 15 examples from this series. The lightest one weighed 2.37 grams and the heaviest 4.61 grams, but the average was 3.28 grams.

 

CH’U DYNASTY
AD 930 TO ca AD 970

Ch’u was founded by Ma Yin, who was the governor of Hunan and part of Kuangsi during the late T’ang Dynasty and allied himself with Che Wen as the Posterior Liang Dynasty was established at the overthrow of T’ang. In AD 930 Ma Wen established the Ch’u Dynasty when he revolted against the Posterior Liang, but he died the same year. His Dynasty continued until absorbed by the Northern Sung in about AD 970, but we have found little further information about it.

 

S-447. Bronze 10 cash (?). Obverse: “T’IEN TS’E FU PAO”. Reverse: “YIN” (probably a reference to Ma Yin). This is a large coin of 42 mm. Schjoth’s example weighed 18.36 grams. Based on other coins from this era it is likely a fiduciary denomination of 10 cash was intended. We cannot provide a value for this type at this time.

 

FD-787. Iron 10 cash (?). Obverse: “T’IEN TS’E FU PAO”. Reverse: blank. This is a large coin of 42 mm. Weight not available. The denomination of this coin is not certain, but it is likely a fiduciary 10 cash. We cannot provide a value for this type at this time, but it is very rare.

 

Ma Yin held the title of “the Chief Commander of T’ien Ts’e”. The obverse legend of these coins, and the reverse of the following, refer to this.

 

S-448. Bronze 10 cash (?). Obverse: “CH’IEN-FENG CH’UAN-PAO”. Reverse: “T’IEN”. This is a large coin of 38 mm. Schjoth’s example weighed 29.04 grams and is listed as bronze, but the size and weight suggest either iron, or an iron-bronze alloy is more likely. Iron was cheaper than bronze, an alloy of bronze and iron, at this weight, could have about the same metal value as S-447 above. We cannot provide a value, but this is a very rare type.

 

FD-791. Iron 10 cash (?). Obverse: “CH’IEN-FENG CH’UAN-PAO”. Reverse: “T’IEN”. This is a large coin of 38 mm. No weight is available at this time. We cannot provide a value, but this is a very rare type.

 

Ding Fubao lists a number of variations on the coinage of Ma Yin, most of them cast in Iron. The Ch’u dynasty was centered in Hunan, an area rich in iron, hence the large number of iron issues from this dynasty. Unfortunately this is a very rare series, seldom offered for sale.

 

UNCERTAIN DYNASTY

Recently a group of iron spade moneys, based on the bronze spades of the Hsin Dynasty of Wang Mang came on the market. It is not certain which dynasty was responsible for issuing them, but it is reasonably certain they date to the Five Dynasties period in the 10th century AD. Prior to this group, only one of the three types was known and it is the only type in the common literature, listed in Hartill, Ding Fu Pao, and the Shanghai Encylopedia :

 

  Unknown to Schjoth, but listed as FD-842. Iron value 300 spade. Obverse: “HUO PU” copied directly from the Huo Pu reverse coins of Wang Mang (S-148). Reverse: “SAN-PAI” (300), based on the value 300 spades of Wang Mang.

 

F   $185.00     VF   $275.00

 

The hoard that came on the market contain two additional types not recorded in the standard reference books :

 

  Possibly representing a value 100 coin. Obverse: “HUO PU” copied directly from the Huo Pu reverse coins of Wang Mang (S-148), as as on the value 300 spade type above. Reverse: blank.

 

These have changed hands more recently in Fine at the $125 range, and VF in the $200 range, but please see my comments about them below.

 

  Iron, value 1000. Obverse: “TA-PU HUANG-CH’IEN”. Reverse: blank. Based on the value 1000 spade of Wang Mang (S-147). The reverse is blank.

 

These have changed hands more recently in Fine at the $125 range, and VF in the $200 range, but please see my comments about them below.

 

The denominations of the value 300 and value 1000 spades are obvious, as it is stated on the coins. The denomination of the possible value 100 spade is not not certain, but these appear to be part of a series for which 100, 300 and 1000 cash round coins were issued (reference FD-838-845), which we will list here at some future date.

There is a great deal of controversy over these coins and the hoard they are reported to have come from. As I commented above, prior to this group only the value 300 type was known to exist, so when this group came on the market the are fakes, with the two new types being modern fantasy coins. What I do know is there were numbers of very low quality examples, including damaged and some fragmentary examples. The value 1000 example above was an exceptional quality one, but the value 100 example is more typical of what they looked like, and as you can see, it has a rather convincing look of an old iron coin. Having seen a number of these coins up close, I lean toward the hoard being a genuine hoard with two of previously un-known denominations, but iron is a very easy metal to artificially age, and proving authenticity on any iron coin is difficult at best. The true status of these coins is at this time uncertain and may remain so for some time to come.

THE NORTHERN SUNG DYNASTY

 

This is a guide to the coins of the Northern Sung Dynasty (AD 960 to 1126), not a list of coins for sale. A list of the ancient and medieval Chinese coins we currently have available can be viewed on our : our vcoins store.

 

Images on this site (more coming soon) represent types,
but bear no relationship to actual size.

 

The Sung Dynasty, established in AD 960, saw relative stability in China, although conflict with the Tartars and Mongols continued. In AD 1127 the northern provinces were lost to them and the capital had to be moved from K’ai-feng Fu (Pien-liang) in the north to Lin-an Fu (Hangchou) in the south. We now refer to the period before the move as the Northern Sung and after the move as Southern Sung.

This is a complex series, with nine Emperors using dozens of reign titles and many inscription and calligraphy variations which defined dates and mints. If all the variations were catalogued, they would number in the thousands. Unfortunately the key to understanding them no longer exists.

If you have not done so, we recommend reading the following comments about the nature of Northern Sung coins. If you are already familiar with this section, you can click here to proceed directly to our listing of the coins.


 

OUTLINE OF THE BRONZE COINS

At the standard in use since the T’ang, the Northern Sung monetary system was based on full weight bronze 1 cash averaging 3.5 grams, 2 cash averaging 7 grams cast sporadically after AD 1093, and on a few occasions, usually during times of war, bronze 3 and 10 cash fiduciary coins cast to the 2 and 3 cash standard. In addition to bronze coins, fiduciary iron coins were also cast through much of this period.

AD 960 to 1041. The only bronze coins were full-weight 1 cash.

AD 1041. Fiduciary 3 cash (S-505) of about 7 grams and 29 mm. This was the earliest North Sung issue higher than a 1 cash. As a fiduciary issue it proved unpopular and subject to counterfeiting and in AD 1059 was devalued to 2 cash, consistent with the weight.

AD 1070. Fiduciary bronze 10 cash (S-538) of 7.2 grams and 30 mm were issued to raise funds for the Western Wars. As with the earlier fiduciary issues, these were unpopular and subject to counterfeiting and were devalued to 2 cash at the war’s end. Iron 10 cash were also issued at this time.

AD 1093. Full-weight 2 cash of about 7.0 grams and 29 mm. (S-575) were introduced as a regular part of the currency, but only issued sporadically.

AD 1102. Fiduciary 10 cash (S-621) were cast in an attempt to introduce them as a regular part of the coinage. At about 11 grams and 31 mm these contained 3 cash worth of metal and were devalued to value 3 cash in AD 1111.

AD 1107. A full weight 10 cash was issued (S-630) at about 27 grams and 50 mm, but was withdrawn within a year. These appear to have been hoarded, and used as a cheap source of metal for counterfeiting the fiduciary 10 cash issues still circulating from the issue of AD 1102.


 

OUTLINE OF THE IRON COINS

The earliest iron coins consisted of non-fiduciary 1/10 cash. Schjoth (page 28) records: “In the 2nd year of Ching-te (AD 1005) large iron coins were cast in the two localities of Chia-ting Fu and Chiung-chou in Szechuan, value one copper cash or ten small iron cash. These all circulated jointly and gave much satisfaction.”

The large iron coins, of bronze 1 cash value, seem to be S-472 (10.83 grams, 35 mm). We believe the “small iron cash” valued at 1/10th of a copper cash are the well known iron issues of bronze cash size and weight which start with the T’ai-p’ing (S-462) issues of AD 976-984. This would explain a passage where Schjoth records Mr. Hu, in AD 978, paid for copying some sacred classics with 120 strings of iron money. Recording payment specifically in iron money would not be necessary unless iron and copper cash were valued differently. This establishes iron at about 1/10th the value of copper, a figure very important to understanding other iron issues. The larger iron coin (S-472), at about 11 grams, was fiduciary with only about 0.3 cash worth of iron.

A careful analysis of the coins, as well as the literary evidence, suggests the following sequence:

AD 978. Non-fiduciary 1/10 cash iron coins are first cast. It is possible that earlier specimens may one day come to light.

AD 990. Non-fiduciary 1/10 cash iron coins cease to be cast, but continue to circulate until at least AD 1005.

AD 1004 (possibly a little earlier). Fiduciary iron 1 cash ware introduced (S-472) at 11 grams, 35 mm and issued sporadically throughout the Northern Sung period but at ever-reducing weights and sizes.

AD 1017. The standard for iron 1 cash is reduced to about 7 grams, 28 mm (S-483).

AD 1023. The size of iron 1 cash is reduced to about 25 mm, but the weight remains at about 7.0 grams (S-487).

AD 1070. Fiduciary iron 10 cash (S-542a) of 35 mm and variable weight between 7.5 and 11 grams are issued to finance the Western Wars. At the end of the war these are devalued to 2 cash.

AD 1093. Iron 2 cash (S-580) introduced at the same standard as the 10 cash of AD 1070, but prove an unsuccessful experiment and by the end of AD 1094 are trading at scrap iron prices (about 0.4 cash).

AD 1101. The weights of iron 1 cash become variable (S-615) averaging about 5.75 grams but specimens between 3.5 and 7 grams are encountered. The size remains consistent at about 25 mm.

AD 1111. Iron 2 cash (29 mm, 7-10 grams) (S-643) and 3 cash (32 mm, 9-11 grams) are cast but again faile to be accepted.


 

THE NATURE OF THE FIDUCIARY ISSUES

When we were first writing this site, the issuing and later devaluations of fiduciary coins appeared somewhat random, but it quickly became obvious this was not the case.

All of the iron coins, with the exception of the early 1/10 cash issues were fiduciary. Fiduciary 1 cash iron coins were accepted throughout this period, but all attempts at higher denominations were rejected.

It appears that almost all fiduciary bronze coins, and most fiduciary iron over 1 cash, were only cast during times of war or other emergencies and afterwards the bronze coins were devalued to denominations consistent with their size and weight, while iron coins were demonetized and withdrawn from circulation.

Fiduciary bronze was always cast to standards consistent with lower denominations, allowing them to be devalued later and still fit into the pre-existing coinage system. This shows planning, suggesting they were cast with the full intent of a future devaluation. (The same is not true of fiduciary iron coins).


 

INSCRIPTION VARIETIES

Northern Sung coins present a complex series of inscription variations which, while easily catalogued, are poorly understood. Date and mint codes are probably hidden in these variations, but it is possible we will never understand them.

 

CALLIGRAPHY STYLES

Schjoth’s introduction to Northern Sung coinage (page 27) says: “As regards the style of writing, the coins in the ‘seal’ writing come first, followed by those in the clerkly or orthodox writing, and ultimately finishing up with the ‘running’ hand, or ‘grass-character’ style of writing.”

By using “or” he is saying “clerkly” and “orthodox” are one script style, “running hand” and “grass-character” are a second. Seal script is the third style. A quick examination of the coins shows his statement of only three styles of calligraphy are correct.

1) “SEAL” – a very formal style of writing. Rounded characters with a fixed form and all details of each character included. The differences between coins are minor. There is no real Western equivalent, but type set block capital letters come closest.

2) “ORTHODOX” – also referred to as “clerkly”. Angular characters with a generally square or rectangular appearance in which most details are made up of distinct either straight or slightly curved stokes. The general layout of a character is fixed, but small details can be left out. From coin to coin there can be significant differences. The closest Western equivalent is handwritten small-case printing.

3) “GRASS” – also referred to as “running hand”. Flowing characters on which several details of a character can be represented by a single wavy or jagged line. A form of shorthand in which a character can show major differences from coin to coin. This is distinctly like Western handwriting (as opposed to hand printing).

Confusion throughout the general listings, such as for S-633-637 (page 33) where he states the type exists in both “clerkly” and “orthodox” script leads us to believe Schjoth did not write this part of the catalogue. It must have been written by someone working from his rough notes in which must the terms have been used interchangeably.

We relied on Schjoth’s drawings and descriptions to determine the calligraphy style of most issues, but the drawings are not always accurate. Some of the drawings show coins with a mix of orthodox and grass characters, in which cases we list the coin by the style of the 12 o’clock character. If actual specimens confirm this mixing of types, we will comment on them later.

 

CALLIGRAPHY VARIETIES

From the work of Mr. Berger, we know the Ch’ing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911) used subtle calligraphy variations indicating dates, with two changes per year at each mint. With many mints operating, this produced hundreds of variations for any type issued for more than one or two years. Northern Sung coins also have many variations per issue, suggesting a similar system was already in use, but unlike the Ch’ing coins, for which many official records have survived, and the code has been broken, the Northern Sung code is unlikely to be completely understood (we are told Mr. Berger is trying).

 

INSCRIPTION ENDINGS

In his introduction to the Northern Sung coinage, Schjoth (page 27) writes “It will be noted that the Yuan-paos, implying the ‘opening’ or ‘beginning’ currency are placed before the T’ung-paos, implying the principle of the ‘flowing’ currency.”

A simple examination of the coins shows no such relationship exists. There is also a third ending,”Chung-pao”, which Schjoth has ignored in this passage. We have noted the following pattern in the use of these endings:

AD 960 to 989 – all coins use “T’UNG PAO”.

AD 990 to 1007 – all coins use “YUAN-PAO”.

AD 1008-1016 – both “T’UNG PAO” and “YUAN-PAO” during the same reign title.

AD 1041 – a third ending of “CHUNG-PAO” was introduced.

AD 1017-1041 – only one ending was used during any reign title, but it could be either “T’UNG PAO”, “YUAN-PAO” or (after AD 1041) “CHUNG-PAO.

AD 1053-1126 – no evident pattern. Anywhere from one to three endings used in any reign title. In the cases where only one was used, it could be any of the three.

At this time we cannot comment of the significance of these endings, but there must be one. Coins of some reign titles are very rare and it is possible new types may turn up which will help establish a more significant pattern.

INSCRIPTION ORIENTATIONS

Northern Sung coins occur with inscriptions reading either TOP, BOTTOM, RIGHT, LEFT or TOP, RIGHT, BOTTOM, LEFT. Both orientations occur throughout and some issues can be found either way. We have not yet been able to determine any significance of these two orientations.


 

MINTING TECHNIQUES AND WEIGHT VARIATIONS

Starting in the late 5th century AD, the majority of Chinese coins were cast in two-piece moist sand molds into which a master coin (called a seed) was used to make many impressions. Channels were cut to connect the impressions and, after joining the two pieces, molten metal was poured in. When taken apart, the mold yielded what looked like a tree studded in coins, which was then cut apart.

The impression of the mold’s sand grains leaves a granular surface. The coins were run over a rasp to smooth the surfaces, leaving a series of parallel file marks which wear off very quickly and are only visible on very high grade specimens (a few Ming Rebel issues have courser file marks that do not wear off). The lower points on the coin are not affected by the rasp and usually retain some evidence of the pebbled surface on all but the most worn coins (difficult to see on a heavily patinated coin).

Cutting the coins from the tree left a rough spot on the edges which was then filed smooth. The coins were cast with wide rims to allow for this filing.

This method was easy, very fast and, because all of the coins were impressed with the same seed coin, thousands and even millions of identical coins were possible, allowing calligraphy variations to be used as mint and date control marks. Each coin would be exactly the same diameter except for small size variations caused by filing the edges. The only major drawback was in controlling the weights. It was impossible to control the exact depth of each seed impression, and a slightly deeper impression gave a heavier coin and a shallow one a light coin. Weights could vary as much as 25% from coin to coin, so officials concerned themselves with the average weight of one thousand coins, not the weight of each individual coin, as discussed earlier.

Earlier coins were often cast in handcarved stone (steatite) moulds. No two molds could have identical calligraphy, and controlling the exact depth of the carving was difficult, so coins cast by this method (many of the knife, spade and ban-liang) could vary considerably in weight. The molds had a limited useful life and one could not cast tens of thousands of identical coins. Other early coins were cast in non-reusable clay molds which were produced with a type of seed coin, but the mould-making process was too slow to serve the needs of China’s expanding population. The Chinese were aware of lost-wax casting, and used it for many purposes, but the process was far too slow for casting hundreds of millions of coins.

It is difficult to determine the intended denomination of a coin simply by weight. The problem is not too bad with Northern Sung bronze 1 cash which were cast to a standard of 3.5 grams, but could weigh between 2.75 and 4.5 grams. It is worse for 2 cash which at a 7 gram standard vary from 5.5 to 9 grams and overlap with 3 cash at a 10.5 gram standard but vary between 8.25 to 13.5 grams. As can be seen, the heavier 2 cash can weigh more than a light 3 cash. The problem gets worse for higher denominations.


 

SIZE AND DENOMINATION

These small copper coins did not have a lot of purchasing power and except for the smallest transactions, they were tied together in strings of 100 coins. In this form it was impossible to weight each coin, so how could one be sure a string was not of mixed denominations? The answer is fairly simple. Make each denomination a consistent size and without any special equipment and even a blind man would be able to tell if there were a few small coins in the middle of a string of large coins (or vice versa).

The following chart shows the sizes and average weights known to exist for bronze coins of each reign title (omitting reign titles for which no coins are known). It leaves little doubt that there were distinct size ranges.

 

DATE

TITLE

under
23
mm

23-26
mm

27-30
mm

31-35
mm

over 35
mm

968-975

KAI-PAO

3.2 grams

976-984

T’AI-P’ING

3.1 grams

990-994

SHUN-HUA

3.2 grams

995-998

CHIH-TAO

3.5 grams

998-1004

HSIEN-P’ING

3.6 grams

1004-1007

CHING-TE

3.5 grams

1008-1016

HSIANG-FU

3.7 grams

1017-1021

T’IEN-HSI

3.2 grams

1023-1031

T’IEN-SHENG

3.7 grams

1032-1033

MING-TAO

3.9 grams

1034-1037

CHING-YU

3.7 grams

1038-1039

PAO-YUAN

3.6 grams

1040

K’ANG-TING

3.3 grams

1041-1048

CH’ING-LI

3.3 grams

7.2 grams

1049-1053

HUANG-YU

2.7 grams

1054-1055

CHIH-HO

3.7 grams

1056-1063

CHIA-YU

3.5 grams

1064-1067

CHIH-P’ING

3.6 grams

1068-1077

HSI-NING

3.5 grams

7.2 grams

1078-1085

YUAN-FENG

3.3 grams

7.0 grams

1086-1093

YUAN-YU

3.2 grams

7.8 grams

1094-1097

SHAO-SHENG

3.7 grams

7.0 grams

1098-1100

YUAN-FU

1.7 grams

3.2 grams

7.4 grams

1101

CHIEN-CHUNG

2.0 grams

3.6 grams

6.5 grams

1102-1106

CH’UNG-NING

2.7 grams

10.3 grams

1107-1110

TA KUAN

3.85 grams

?? grams

23.5 grams

1111-1117

CHENG-HO

3.3 grams

7.2 grams

1118

CHUNG-HO

4.9 grams

1119-1125

HSUAN-HO

3.4 grams

6.1 grams

6.7 grams

1126

CHING-K’ANG

7.3 grams

 

Included in the average weights are numbers of worn coins which reduce the average weight slightly. In most cases, the original weights were probably about 0.2 grams higher than the average of the surviving coins.

Many of these issues are extremely rare and, for many types, we have been unable to locate actual specimens from which to take weights and measurements. The only readily available source of this information is the Schjoth catalogue, so we have based this table, and our descriptions of the types, on information provided by Schjoth. It is possible, especially for sizes, that some errors are included, but we will modify our listing if actual specimens indicate discrepancies.


 

COUNTERFEITS

It is important to read our discussion of weights before proceeding in this section.

 

TYPE 1

By counterfeit, we refer to illicit castings made at about the same time as the official castings, with the intent of spending them. These can be difficult and in some cases impossible to tell from official castings. Coins made recently, with the intent of fooling collectors, are called forgeries and are generally much easier to spot. No discussion of the forgeries will occur on this site as it would inform the forgers as to what they are doing wrong and allow them to make forgeries that are much more difficult to spot.

Chinese cash were all cast, making the counterfeiter’s job very easy, as casting is also the easiest of all counterfeiting methods.

By gathering heavier coins and recasting them as lighter coins, a counterfeiter could turn one hundred coins averaging 4 grams into 145 coins averaging 2.75 grams, a profit of 45%. Assuming an official coin was used as the master, each counterfeit would be at the low end of the acceptable weight range with the correct alloy, size, and calligraphy.

These coins must have been very difficult to spot back then, and almost impossible today. We can safely assume many coins at the lower end of the weight standards are counterfeits, but cannot be sure which ones. Official and counterfeit coins freely circulated side by side at the time, so both are part of China’s numismatic history and we therefore see little reason to worry about them.

 

TYPE 2

Many coins, including some listed by Schjoth, are much smaller and generally lighter than the normal standard. It is likely that most of these are illicit castings. There are some documented cases of very crude, small, light coins with Northern Sung (and other) types being cast for local use in parts of Southeast Asia. They were never meant to fool anyone in China and in some cases were cast hundreds of years after the official castings. They are an interesting collecting area unto themselves.

 

Emperor CHAO K’UANG YIN
AD 960-976

Chao K’uang Yin, chief General of the Posterior Zhou Dynasty disposed of Emperor Shih Tsung in AD 959, declaring himself Emperor and casting Posterior Zhou coins with the “ZHOU-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” inscription. Within one year he established the Northern Sung Dynasty, adopting the T’ai Tsu reign title.

 

Reign title: T’AI TSU, AD 960-968

Schjoth (page 27) lists “T’ai Tsu” as the Emperor’s name and not a reign title. We cannot identify any coins of this period, but the “SUNG-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” issues attributed to the following reign title may have first been cast at this time, as one would expect these to have been Chao K’uang Yin’s first issue.

 

Reign title: KAI-PAO, AD 968-975

 

S-451
Orthodox Script

 

Kai-pao is Chao K’uang Yin’s second reign title, but does not appear on his coins as it was considered incorrect for the character for “Pao” to occur twice on the same coin. Rather, “SUNG-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” (referring to the coinage of Sung) was used.

 

S-451. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SUNG-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (10 specimens) 25.2 mm, 3.40 grams.

VG   $2.50     F   $4.00

 

We recently notice some specimens of this type that were only about 23.0 mm and around 2.40 grams (not included in the average above) while this type is nearly always over 25 mm and greater than 3 grams (we have seen one that was 25.7 mm, 4.20 grams). At this point we are not certain what the status of these smaller coins is, but suspect they are either contemporary counterfeits, or possibly Japanese or Annamese imitative coins.

 

S-452-8. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SUNG-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: any of various nail marks, dots and vertical strokes, but there are more types than Schjoth lists. Average (4 specimens) 25.0 mm. Average 4.71 grams.

VG   $5.00     F   $7.50     VF   $11.50

 

We have noted the following variations:

 

TOP

 

crescent

 

UPPER RIGHT

crescent

   

RIGHT

vertical stroke

   

LOWER RIGHT

     

BOTTOM

crescent

   

LEFT

 

crescent

vertical stroke

UPPER LEFT

crescent

   

 

S-459. Iron 1/10 cash (see above). Obverse: “SUNG-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 4.09 grams. We have not seen one of these and cannot assign a value at this time.

 

These are reported to have been cast in Szechuan, Shansi or Fukien. Ding Fubao (Fisher’ s Ding) suggest these might be mother cash (models used to cast the seed cash), but average rim width makes that impossible.

 

Emperor T’AI TSUNG
AD 976-997

Reign title: T’AI-P’ING, AD 976-984

 

S-460
Orthodox Script

 

S-460. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-P’ING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script (meaning “Money of the Heavenly Kingdom”). Reverse: blank. Average (4 specimens) 24.8 mm, 3.21 grams.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-461. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-P’ING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: crescent at top. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.1 grams We have not had one, and cannot provide a value at this time (this does not necessarily mean it is rare).

 

S-462. Iron 1/10 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-P’ING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 4.16 grams. These are rare and we have no record of a value for the issue.

 

(The 1/10 cash denomination is based on information discussed above.)

It is recorded that a proposal was put forward to cast larger iron coins for this reign title. We assume the larger 1 cash similar to those of the “CHING-TE” reign title were intended, but we find no evidence they were cast.

 

Reign title: ??, AD 985-989

Schjoth, Fisher’s Ding and Mitchiner record no information about this period, but clearly show a gap between the preceding and following reign title. We will have to look further into this in the future.

 

Reign title: SHUN-HUA, AD 990-994

   

S-463
Orthodox Script

S-464
Running hand Script

 

S-463-464. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHUN-HUA YUAN-PAO” in orthodox and running hand script. Schjoth says there is a grass script type by we have not seen one, and neither Schjoth nor Hartill lists one. Reverse: blank. We have noted specimens with star holes. Average (4 specimens) 24.4 mm, 3.3 grams.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Reign title : CHIH-TAO, AD 995-998

     

S-465
Orthodox Script

S-467
Mixed Scripts

S-468
Grass Script

 

S-465-468. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-TAO YUAN-PAO” in orthodox, grass script and one type of mixed scrip (top and bottom in grass script, left and right in orthodox script). Reverse: blank. 24.6 mm. Average (12 specimens) 3.58 grams (excluding a 2.2 gram specimen must have been a contemporary counterfeit).

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Emperor CHEN TSUNG
AD 998-1022

Reign title : HSIEN-P’ING, AD 998-1004

 

S-470
Orthodox Script
Broad rims

 

S-469-470. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIEN-P’ING YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. There is only one caligraphy style for this issue, but it comes with both narrow (S-469) and wide (s-470) rims. Average (6 specimens) 24.5 mm, 3.54 grams.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Reign title: CHING-TE, AD 1004-1007

 

S-471. Bronze cash. Obverse: “CHING-TE YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (9 specimens) 24.6 mm. 3.78 grams

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Schjoth (page 28) records 1,830,000 strings of this issue were cast in each of the four years of this reign title. Each string was 100 coins, indicating about 732 million coins cast.

 

S-472. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CHING-TE YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 35 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 10.83 grams. Rare, no value can yet be assigned.

 

In spite of the weight, it is fairly certain these were issued as 1 cash (see our discussion of iron coins). He records (page 28) these were cast in the second year of Ching-te (AD 1005) at Chia-ting Fu and Chiung-chou in Szechuan.

 

Reign title: HSIANG-FU, AD 1008-1016

   

S-474
Orthodox script
Yuan-Pao ending

S-477
Orthodox script
T’ung Pao ending

 

With “T’UNG PAO” and “YUAN-PAO”, this is the first occurrence of multiple inscription endings during a reign title (See our discussion of inscription varieties).

 

S-473-474. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIANG-FU YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script (large and small calligraphy). Reverse: blank. Average (5 specimens) 24.9 mm. 3.94 grams.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-475. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIANG-FU YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Schjoth’s specimen was 26.0 mm. 5.58 grams. This coin has very wide rims, is 1.2 mm larger than usual, and is considerably above the 1 cash standard weight range. It has all the characteristics one would expect from a SEED CASH and as such should be considered a very rare specimen, however the size is in line with 2 examples of S-477 we describe below, and in fact this may turn out to be fairly common. More research needs to be done on this issue, and we cannot currently assign a value to it.

 

S-478. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIANG-FU YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 34 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 10.82 grams (about the same as S-472). This is a rare coin and we cannot provide a valuation.

 

S-476-477. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIANG-FU T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script (large and small calligraphy) Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 25.7 mm, 4.55 grams (Schjoth shows his specimens as about 24 mm. Average 3.8 grams, however the 2 specimens we recently examined averaged 25.7 mm, 4.55 grams, suggesting Schjoth’s listing may have been in error).

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Reign title: T’IEN-HSI, AD 1017-1021

   

S-479
Four different scripts.

S-480
Orthodox Script

 

Schjoth (page 29) records that during the last year (AD 1021) at least four mints were casting copper coins (Yung-ping at Jao-chou in Kiangsi, Yung-feng at Ch’ih-chou in Anhui, Kuang-ning in Fookien, and Feng-huo at Chien-chou in Shansi) and a few other mints may have operated briefly at Pien-liang (the capital) and Hangchow. Three mints cast iron coins (Chiung-chou, Chia-ting-fu and Hsing-chou, all in Szechuan) and in one year 1.5 million strings were cast, but it is not clear if this includes the iron issues.

He also records a formula for the bronze alloy: in 5 cattie of coins was 3 cattie 10 ounces of copper, 1 cattie 8 ounces of lead and 8 ounces of tin.

 

S-479. Not in Hartill or FD, so a scarce type. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-HSI T’UNG-PAO” in four different scripts. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimens) 23.8 mm, 2.79 grams.

F   $25.00     VF   $45.00.

 

Schjoth states that this type has a different calligraphy styles on each of the four characters: “T’IEN” – seal script, “HSI” – orthodox script, “T’UNG” – grass script, “PAO” in li (official) script, and while this is not clear from his drawings, the specimens we have now seen bare this out. This is the earliest occurrence of seal script on a Northern Sung coin, possibly an experimental coin to see how it would look. However, this is controversy over this type, as while Schjoth believed it to be a Chinese issue (hence we include it here) there are others that think it is an Annamese issue, but there appears to be no clear consensus on this.

 

S-480,482. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-HSI T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 24.5 mm, Schjoth had two specimens, one of 24 mm. 4.16 grams. Schjoth has a specimen that was only 21 mm, 2.48 grams, which is likely a counterfeit of the period and which has be left out of our average size and weight figure.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-481. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-HSI T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: crescent at top left. 24 mm. 3.15 grams. We have not had this type and cannot provide a valuation at this time.

 

S-483. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-HSI T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 28 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 7.52 grams. This is a very rare coin and we cannot provide a valuation at this time.

 

This is smaller and lighter than the iron coins cast during the previous two reign titles, but slightly heavier than those of the next. Please see our general discussion of the iron coins for why we believe they are 1 cash and not 2 cash as Schjoth suggests.

 

Reign title: CH’IEN-HSING, AD 1022

No coins seem to have been cast for this reign title.

 

Emperor JEN TSUNG
AD 1023-1063

Jen Tsung used nine reign titles, casting coins for all of them. He used as many as ten denominations of mixed iron and bronze, with numerous variations in script style and orientation, providing dozens of major and hundreds of minor varieties.

 

Reign title: T’IEN-SHENG, AD 1023-1031

   

S-484
Seal Script

S-486
Orthodox

 

S-484-486. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-SHENG YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. Average (12 specimens) 24.8 mm 4.11 grams.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-487-488. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-SHENG YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. Schjoth had two specimens of 25 mm and averaging 6.6 grams, smaller and lighter than those cast in the previous reign title. This type is rare and we have not been able to establish a value for it.

 

Reign title: MING-TAO, AD 1032-1032

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-489
Seal Script

S-490
Orthodox Script

 

S-489-490. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “MING-TAO YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 25 mm. Schjoth had two specimens averaging 4.0 grams. The orthodox script variety is common but we are not certain about the rarity of the seal script type.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-491. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “MING-TAO YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. 25 mm. Reverse: nail mark in top left corner. Schjoth had one specimen of 3.55 grams. We have not yet determined a value for this variety.

 

Schjoth does not record any iron coins for this reign title.

 

Reign title: CHING-YU, AD 1034-1037

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IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-492
Seal Script

S-494
Orthodox Script

 

S-492-494. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHING-YU YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 25 mm. Average 3.73 grams.

   

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $5.00

 

S-495. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CHING-YU YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 25 mm. 6.8 grams. We have not handled one of these and cannot provide a valuation for it.

 

Schjoth records: “Hsu Chia’s proposal to cast coins by a chemical process, of fusing copper and iron, was adopted.”. We assume this refers to a copper-iron alloy but have not been able to determine which coins these were. As copper was worth more than iron, it makes little sense to issue iron coins with a copper content, but a considerable saving could be had by adding some iron to mostly copper issues. Some years ago we had a few North Sung cash that looked like rusty iron, but were non-magnetic, which we assumed just had a peculiar patination. However, they were issued under the reign title HSUAN-HO around AD 1119-1125 which is 100 years after this (An image of one is available via this link).

 

Reign title: PAO-YUAN, AD 1038-1039

   

S-498
Seal Script

S-500
Orthodox Script

 

“Huang-Sung” was used instead of “Pao-Yuan” on these coins. To do otherwise would have repeated the character “Pao”, a practice considered to be incorrect.

 

S-496-500. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUANG-SUNG T’UNG-PAO” (Imperial currency of Sung) in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank but one example with a star shaped hole. Average (2 specimens) 24.5 mm. 3.35 grams.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-501-502. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “HUANG-SUNG T’UNG-PAO” (Imperial currency of Sung) in seal and orthodox script. Schjoth had two specimens, one of 24 mm, 7.53 grams and the other of 25 mm, 7.07 grams. These are rare and we cannot provide a valuation at this time.

 

Reign title: K’ANG-TING, AD 1040

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S-503
Orthodox Script

 

Jen Tsung only used this reign title for less than a year and very few coins were issued. We have never seen one.

 

S-503. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “K’ANG-TING YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 18 mm. 3.35 grams. This specimen is far too small for an official casting, but the weight is too high to suggest a contemporary counterfeit. As this is very rare and does not fit with then normal structure of the coinage, it may be a modern forgery. We note Fisher’s Ding (Ding Fubao) lists two Iron 1 cash for this reign title, but no bronze coins.

 

Schjoth (page 29) records: “In the K’ang-ting year, the official, Pi Chung-yuan, drawing attention to the bad state of the finances and the requirements for frontier expenditure, proposed the issue of a large currency, ‘value ten’ of copper and iron.” We have found no evidence that value ten cash were cast during this or either of the next two reign titles, but this passage is important as it shows that iron and copper coins could be cast and be circulating at identical denominations.

 

Reign title: CH’ING-LI, AD 1041-1048

   

S-504
read from top, then
around to the right

S-505
read top-bottom-right-left

 

S-506. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’ING-LI CHUNG-PAO” in orthodox script reading top-bottom right left. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. 3.35 grams. We have not recorded a value for this type.

 

S-504 and 505. Bronze, 3 cash. Obverse: “CH’ING-LI CHUNG-PAO” in orthodox script with orientations reading top-bottom right-left (504) and top around to the right (505). Reverse: blank. Average (10 specimens) 7.4 grams with a range from 6.2 to 8.6 grams, 30-31 mm (the 8.6 gram specimen was 32 mm).

F   $15.00     VF   $25.00

 

These weights are correct for value 2 cash, but Schjoth (page 30) records: “In the 4th year of Chia-yu (AD 1059), owing to the increased casting by the people of illicit coins, the ‘value three’ coins of the heavy issue of Ching-li chung-paos were reduced to the value of two cash”.. This clearly suggests the heavier “Ch’ing-li” coins were issued as a fiduciary three cash, making them subject to counterfeiting.

 

Reign title: HUANG-YU, AD 1049-1053

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S-507
Orthodox Script

 

S-507-508. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUANG-YU YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. 23 mm. Schjoth had two specimens weighing 2.15 and 3.2 grams. This issue is rare and we have no record of a price for it.

 

It appears from Schjoth (page 30) that during this reign title an order was given to cast value 10 large copper and iron coins, but there is no evidence that these coins were actually cast.

 

Reign title: CHIH-HO, AD 1054-1055

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S-509
Seal Script
with YUAN-PAO

S-511
Orthodox Script
with YUAN-PAO

 

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IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-512
Seal Script
with T’UNG-PAO

S-513
Orthodox Script
with T’UNG-PAO

 

S-509-511. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-HO YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Average 3.72 grams.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-512-513. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Average 3.62 grams. We have no valuation records for this type.

 

Reign title: CHIA-YU, AD 1056-1063

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

 

S-514
Seal Script

S-515
Orthodox Script

 

S-514-515. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-YU YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. We have noted an orthodox script example with a star shaped hole. 24 mm. Average 3.87 grams.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-516-518. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Schjoth notes an orthodox script example with a star shaped hole. 24 mm. Average 3.32 grams.

VG   1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Emperor YING TSUNG
AD 1064-1067

Reign title: CHIH-P’ING, AD 1064-1067

   

S-519
Seal Script

S-522
Orthodox Script

S-519-523. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-P’ING YUAN-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Average 3.34 grams.

VG   1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

This type often exists with an unusual style of “CHIH”. Munro believes these were cast in Japan, which is possible. We will elaborate on this at some future date.

 

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IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-524
Seal Script

S-526
Orthodox Script

S-524-526. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-P’ING T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Average 3.97 grams. Our records do not include a price for this type, but it is probably the same as those above.

 

Schjoth (page 30) records that during this reign title, 1,700,000 strings of cash (100 coins per string) were cast annually from six minting departments.

 

Emperor SHEN TSUNG
AD 1068-1085

Schjoth (page 31) records that as many as twenty-six mints operated during this period, with a combined annual mintage as high as five-and a half million strings.

 

Reign title: HSI-NING, AD 1068-1077

     

S-527
Seal Script version 1
with Yuan-pao

S-529
Seal Script version 2
with Yuan-pao

S-535
Orthodox Script (one of several styles)
with Yuan-pao

 

     

S-538
Seal Script
with Chung-pao

S-537
Orthodox Script style 1
with Chung-pao

S-542
Orthodox Script style 2
with Chung-pao

 

All coins of this reign title read from the top around to the right. Early in the reign only 1 cash coins were cast, and those with orthodox script tend to be style 1. Later in the reign the large denominations were cast, on which those with orthodox script tend to be style 2. It is not yet clear to me is the 1 cash denomination continued to be made after the larger denominations were introduced.

 

EARLY ISSUES

S-527-530 and 532-535. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSI-NING YUAN-PAO” in seal (two different versions) and orthodox scripts (3 different versions). Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 23.8 mm. Average 3.12 grams. One with a star-shaped hole has been noted.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

One of Schjoth’s specimens weighed only 1.63 grams. It is probably a contemporary counterfeit and in not included is the average weight calculation.

 

S-531. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSI-NING YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: crescent at bottom. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.7 grams. We have not recorded a value for this type.

 

S-544. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “HSI-NING YUAN-PAO” (or “T’UNG-PAO”) in orthodox script. Schjoth’s specimen must have been in poor condition as the exact reading was uncertain). Reverse: blank. 25 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 7.53 grams. We cannot provide a valuation for this type at this time.

 

At 7.53 grams and 25 mm, this appears to be a 1 cash and must have been part of this early series.

 

S-536-537. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSI-NING CHUNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 25 mm. Average 3.57 grams. Our records do not currently include a value for this type.

 

Schjoth describes these as larger than usual, but 25 mm is not enough larger to be significant.

 

LATER ISSUES

Schjoth (page 31) records the following passage: “During the years the armies moved westward, coins value ten were cast. When the war was ended and the armies withdrawn, the illicit casting of coins set in, and the value of the large coinage had to be reduced to ‘three’ and eventually to ‘two’. On the recommendation of some high officials, henceforward, of the larger issues of coins only value two were cast and these circulated throughout the empire.”

 

S-538-42a. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “HSI-NING CHUNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. The size of these varies between 30 and 32 mm, with significant weight variations between about 6.5 and 8.5 grams. Based on 43 specimens we found an average weight of about 7.8 grams. These fit a 2 cash standard but appear to have been issued at 10 cash, later devalued to 2 cash. We have noted one example with a star-shaped hole.

VG   $2.50     F   $4.00     VF   $7.50, gVF   $9.00

 

From a recent hoard we noticed that the type S-538 seems to come in both the 30 to 32 mm size (later re-valued to 3 cash) and in the 28 to 29 mm size (later re-valued to 2 cash). It is possible that the 28-29 mm specimens were a distinctly different issued from the 30-32 mm specimens.

 

S-543. Iron 10 cash. Obverse: “HSI-NING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. 35 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 10.54 grams. These are rare and we have not seen one, and cannot provide a valuation for it.

 

The passage about war-issue 10 cash coins (see above) does not mention iron coins, but at 35 mm these are large coins and are likely of this series as they do not fit anywhere else.

 

Reign title: YUAN-FENG, AD 1078-1085

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

   

S-546
Orthodox Script

S-545
Seal Script

S-556
Grass Script

 

1 CASH ISSUES

S-545-550. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal, orthodox and grass scripts. Reverse: blank or with crescent. We have also seen one example with a star hole (add about 60% to the price for a crescent or star hole). Average (36 specimens) 24.5 mm, 3.90 grams. We have noted that there is a range of sizes with specimens noted from 23.5 to 25.1 mm.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.75     VF   $5.00

 

S-551-552. Bronze larger 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. Average (3 specimens) 25.6 mm, 3.56 grams (range 2.87 to 4.15 grams). These are interesting coins, and the consistently large size suggest they are a separate issue from those above, but the weights are well within the 1 cash weight range. At this point, we do not know why the two issues exist, but we do not that coins of this size were cast during earlier reign titles (see S-477 above).

VG   $7.50     F   $9.75     VF   $12.50

 

S-563-564. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. Schjoth had two specimens of 25 and 24 mm. Average 7.05 grams. The same weight and size as the iron 1 cash cast prior to the war and appear to be a re-introduction of that denomination at the end of the war. We have not seen an example of these and cannot provide any valuation for them at this time.

 

LARGE ISSUES

S-553, 556. Bronze 10 (2) cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass script. Reverse: blank. These vary between about 28 and 31 mm (average is 30 mm), and based on 31 specimens we found an average weight of 7.44 grams. We have also seen some examples with a star hole which should be worth a small premium).

VG   $2.50     F   $4.00     VF   $6.00

 

S-554, 555, 557-559. Bronze 10 (2) cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass script. Reverse: several varieties with an assortment of dots and crescents. 28 mm. Schjoth had 5 specimens averaging 6.45 grams. We do not have any records of valuations for these variations, but they should be worth some premium over the plain-reverse examples above.

 

S-560-562. Iron 10 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse blank or with a nail mark. 30 mm. Averaging 11.88 grams, these are of the same standard as the fiduciary 10 cash issues cast during the previous reign title. We have not handled any of these and cannot provide a valuation at this time.

 

The Western Wars were ongoing during the early years of this reign title, so these heavy coins were probably a continuation of the fiduciary 10 cash of the previous reign title which were devalued at first to 3 and then to 2 cash.

Schjoth records (page 31): “In the 8th year of Yuan-yu ‘(AD 1086)’, when Che Tsung ascended the throne, fourteen of the old mints were closed. During the eight years that followed Shansi had orders to re-issue its small currency.”

It appears Shansi issued larger coins until AD 1086. We have not found the year in which the Western War ended, but it appears to have been before AD 1086 indicating some of these heavy coins were cast at a 2 cash denomination (we believe this probably only applies to the bronze issues). As the bronze 10 cash were cast to the two cash standard, it is probably not possible to differentiate early 10 cash from later 2 cash.

 

Emperor CHE TSUNG
AD 1086-1100

Reign title: YUAN-YU, AD 1086-1093

   

S-565
Seal Script

S-567
Grass Script

 

S-565-8. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 24.5 mm. Average about 3.85 grams (17 specimens).

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-569-572. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal script. There are unusual North Sung issues with the following reverses: S-569 – numeral 1, S-570 – numeral 2, S-571 – “Ch’uan” (a stream) and- S-572 – characters meaning “ten months”. 24 mm. Average 2.96 grams. These are rare. We have never seen one and cannot provide a valuation for them.

 

These coins do not fit with the rest of the North Sung series. Schjoth’s suggestion that these may have been cast is Japan could be correct. There is no indigenous coinage from Japan during the Northern Sung period and it appears Japan used Chinese coins during this period, so it is likely some North Sung types were cast in Japan.

 

S-573-574. Metal ?? value ??. Obverse: “YUAN-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth lists these as bronze 1 cash, but the weights of 6.06 and 5.52 grams fit into the weight/size standard for iron 1 cash. Until we are able to confirm the alloy and weights of these two coins, we do not wish to classify them. We would appreciate hearing from anyone with access to the Schjoth collection (we think it is in Oslo, Norway) who can check them for us.

 

S-577-578. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. 24 mm. Averaging about 7.12 grams. The weight and size are at the iron 1 cash standard suggesting these are early issues of this reign title. Schjoth does not mention orthodox script for this type, but his illustration of S-578 shows “YUAN” in orthodox script. We have not handled any of these and cannot currently provide a valuation for them.

 

ISSUES OF AD 1093

Schjoth (page 31) records value two cash were re-introduced in AD 1093, but discontinued in favor of 1 cash after two years. This title ends in the first year, so some must have been cast under the following reign title. Schjoth indicates all two cash were discontinued, but numismatic evidence indicates only iron 2 cash were discontinued while bronze two cash continued to be cast.

 

S-575-576. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 29 mm. Average 7.85 grams (the weight standard previously established for bronze 2 cash). We note these usually show up in gF or better.

F   $3.50     VF   $5.50

 

S-580-581. Iron 2 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-YU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. 34 mm. Average 11.03 grams (the standard used during the previous two reign titles for 10 cash later reduced to 2 cash).

F   $25.00     VF   $37.50

 

These are the earliest Northern Sung iron coins we have seen available in recent years. It is very possible they came from a single hoard and may turn out to be scarcer than the values we have seen would indicate.

 

Reign title: SHAO-SHENG, AD 1094-1097

   

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-582
Seal Script
with YUAN PAO

S-586
Grass Script
with YUAN-PAO

S-592
Orthodox Script
with T’UNG-PAO

 

ISSUES OF AD 1094

S-597-598. Iron 2 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-SHENG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 34 mm. Average 11.0 grams (the size and weight standard of the iron 2 cash issued in AD 1093).. These must be part of the series discontinued after AD 1094.

F   $25.00     VF   $42.50

 

Schjoth records that the “Book of Economical Economy of Sung” (v. Hui-k’ao, vol iv p. 24a) states: “During the first years of the Shao-sheng style, the copper coins were daily becoming more scarce, while the iron ones were increasing numerous, a thousand copper-cash were received in exchange of two thousand five hundred of iron.”

This is an interesting passage. It appears bronze coins were being issued at their metal value of about 3.5 grams per cash (see below), but the 11-12 gram iron 2 cash had been demonetized (or people refused to accept them) and were trading at their scrap iron value. Two and a half iron 2 cash, between 27.5 and 30 grams of iron, were exchangeable for a 3.5 gram copper 1 cash (an 8 or 9 to 1 ratio). This supports our earlier belief that iron was worth about 10% of copper and that this had changed little by the late Northern Sung period.

The government’s response was to withdraw the iron 2 cash coins, although it appears that iron 1 cash were still cast and accepted. We find no evidence of iron 2 cash being cast again during the balance of the Northern Sung period, but some brief but unsuccessful attempts at other denominations did occur.

 

OTHER ISSUES OF AD 1094 AND LATER

S-582, 585, 586, 591. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-SHENG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse blank. Average (4 specimens) 24.5 mm, average 3.90 grams (excluding S-585 which at only 21 mm and 1.82 grams is probably a contemporary counterfeit).

F   $2.50     VF   $4.50

 

583-584, 587-590. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-SHENG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: a variety of crescents and dots. Average (6 specimens) 24.5 mm, 3.87 grams. We have no records of values for these, but they should be worth some premium over the blank-reverse type.

 

S-596. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-SHENG YUAN-PAO” in grass script. 24 mm. Reverse: blank. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 7.02 grams. We have no records of value for this type at this time.

 

S-593-595. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-SHENG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass script. Reverse: blank. Average (3 specimens) 29.3 mm, 6.85 grams.

F   $3.50     VF   $5.50

 

S-592. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-SHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 2.94 grams. We have no record of handling this type.

 

Reign title: YUAN-FU, AD 1098-1100

 

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-606 vareity
Seal Script
with T’UNG-PAO

S-602
Grass Script
with T’UNG-PAO

 

S-599, 602. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 23 mm. Average about 3.21 grams.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.50

 

S-600-601. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FU YUAN-PAO” in seal script. Reverse: crescents in various positions. 23 mm. Average about 3.41 grams. We have no record of handling these.

 

S-603. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FU T’UNG-PAO” in grass script. Reverse: blank. At 21 mm and 1.66 grams this is probably a counterfeit.

 

S-606. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FU T’UNG-PAO” in seal script. Reverse: blank. 29 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 5.86 grams. We do not have a valuation for this type.

 

S-604-605. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FU T’UNG-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 28 mm. Average 7.40 grams.

VG   $2.50     F   $3.50     VF   $6.50

 

H-16.336 (Schjoth does not list this denomination). Iron 3 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-FU T’UNG-PAO” in seal script. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimen) 34.2 mm, 13.23 grams.

F   $30.00     VF   $45.00

 

Emperor HUI TSUNG
AD 1101-1125

Hui Tsung’s coinage is very complex with several attempted reforms, including the introduction of some new fiduciary issues. We have done our best to sort these out, but in some cases only speculations can be offered.

 

Reign title: CHIEN-CHUNG CHING-KUO, AD 1101

   

S-607
Seal Script

S-609
Grass Script

 

An unusual reign title, composed of four rather than two characters, which does not fit the normal coin layout. “SHENG-SUNG” was used instead.

 

S-607, 609. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHENG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. Average (3 specimens) 24 mm. Average 3.65 grams.

VG   $1.75     F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

S-608, 610. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse “SHENG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. S-608 at 19 mm, 1.92 grams and S-610 at 21 mm, 2.16 grams. The size and weights suggest Schjoth’s specimens were contemporary counterfeits, but the types do exist at regular size and weight.

 

S-611. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHENG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” in grass script. Reverse: crescent. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.28 grams. We have not handled one of these and cannot currently suggest a value.

 

S-612-614. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “SHENG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. 28 mm. Average 6.53 grams.

VG   $2.50     F   $3.50     VF   $5.50

 

The iron coins of this reign title are a little perplexing. This is one of the areas where we can only offer speculations, and more study is needed.

 

S-615-617. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “SHENG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: blank. The sizes and weights of Schjoth’s specimens are very inconsistent. One of 23 mm, 3.91 grams, one of 25 mm, 5.67 grams and one of 21 mm, 2.72 grams.

VG   $55.00     F   $70.00     VF   $100.00

 

During the balance of the Northern Sung, 23 to 24 mm iron coins were sporadically cast at both a 5 to 6 and 3 to 4 gram standard. It is important to remember iron coins are fiduciary, even at the heavier standard containing about 0.2 cash worth of metal. It has been our observation that size is more significant than weight in determining denomination, and that both of these standards are intended to be value 1 cash. We believe the 21 mm specimen above may have been a counterfeit of the period.

 

S-618. Iron coin of uncertain denomination. Obverse: “SHENG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. At 33 mm and 12.59 grams this coin is larger and heavier than the iron 2 cash issued earlier, but the same as the earlier iron 10 cash that were later demonetized. This appears to be an attempt to introduce a large fiduciary iron coinage, but we have found no evidence to suggest the intended denomination, although the size is the same as the bronze 10 cash of the next reign title. Rare, we have no valuation currently available.

 

Reign title: CH’UNG-NING, AD 1102-1106

   

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-620
Orthodox Script
CH’UNG-NING CHUNG-PAO
read top-bottom-right-left

S-621
Orthodox Script
CH’UNG-NING T’UNG-PAO
read top-right-bottom-left

S-626
Orthodox Script
CH’UNG-NING YUAN-PAO
read top-right-bottom-left

 

While the coins with the Chung-Pao ending, and those with the T’ung-Pao ending, appear to have very different caligraphy styles, they are both variations of Othodox Script.

Schjoth lists value 1, 5 and 10 cash for this series, but his literary reference mentions only 10 cash. We have so far found no convincing evidence of any coins cast with the intent of a 5 cash denomination.

 

REGULAR SERIES

S-626. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’UNG-NING YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. 25 mm. 6.04 grams. We have not seen an example of these and cannot provide a valuation at this time.

 

Schjoth does not list any bronze coins with the “YUAN-PAO” inscription, but the existence of this iron coin proves the inscription was used. It is likely that bronze issues exist but are very rare.

 

S-619, bronze 1 cash, “CH’UNG-NING T’UNG-PAO”. Orthodox script. 25 mm. 3.27 grams. This is consistent with a 1 cash denomination. The 1 cash is rare with this inscription.

VF   $90.00

 

S-625, iron 1 cash, “CH’UNG-NING T’UNG-PAO”. Orthodox script. 24 mm. At 3.46 grams, this is consistent with the iron 1 cash denomination (S-615) issued under the previous reign title. We have not seen one of these and cannot provide a value.

 

S-620, bronze 1 cash, “CH’UNG-NING CHUNG-PAO”. Orthodox script. 25 mm. At 2.12 grams it is unlikely that this is an official issue, but it may be a contemporary counterfeit of a value 1 cash coin of this type. We cannot provide a value for this type at this time.

 

FIDUCIARY 10 CASH SERIES

 

Schjoth records (page 32): “In the 1st year of Ch’ung-ning (AD 1102) the Board of Revenue directed that the four minting departments of Chiang, Yao, Shih and Chien should hand in samples of the new currency …… Each string of a thousand of the value-ten coins weighed 14 catties 7 liang, 9 catties 7 liang 2 mace being copper, 4 catties 12 liang 6 mace being lead, 1 catty 9 liang 2 mace being tin, the waste by melting being 1 catty 5 liang. Each coin weighed 3 mace.”

As far as we have been able to determine 3 mace is about 11 grams, so this passage must be referring to an issue of larger bronze coins. We also note that the two halves may not belong together. The first is about testing 1000 coins that already exist. In the second part “waste by melting” suggests the formula is the amount of metal needed to cast 1000 coins, including the casting sprew that is left after the coins are removed from the trees. This is still open to interpretation.

Schjoth (page 33) also records: “In the 1st year of Cheng-ho (AD 1111), orders were issued that ‘value ten’ coins, which grasping officials for momentary gain some years before had issued to the harm of the government and the people, should be reduced to ‘value three’. The Minister Chang Shang-ying (died 1121) obtained leave to demonetize all the spurious ‘value 10’ coins met with and cast them into light weight Hsiao-p’ing cash”.

Bronze 3 cash should weigh about 10.5 grams, but this passage also makes it clear that 10 cash coins were being cast to a 3 cash standard. It is also clear that counterfeits were abundant. We believe the large coins of this period are the coins referred to, and that any under 8 grams are probably examples of the counterfeits.

 

S-621. Bronze 10 cash (Schjoth calls it a 5 cash). Obverse: “CH’UNG-NING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (8 specimens) 34.1 mm, 11.47 grams (at the 3 cash standard). These are generally well cast coins with bold characters and fairly high rims.

F   $8.00     VF   $15.00     XF $22.50

 

S-624 is a double-obverse example of the S-621 issue (31 mm, 12.38 grams). Double-obverse coins were never a tradition in China and it is unlikely to be an authentic issue. There are other double-sided fantasy coins that are believed to have been cast during the 19th century for the collector’s market.

 

S-622, 623. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “CH’UNG-NING CHUNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (7 specimens) 9.65 grams, with the range between 7.6 and 13.3 grams. The range from 34 to 36 mm. Two of the specimens were under 8 grams were poorly cast and probably old counterfeits, leaving an average of 10.5 grams for the remaining specimens. These are generally bold, well cast coins.

F   $10.00     VF   $15.00

 

Schjoth (page 32) records a story of the enemy melting iron coins to manufacture iron weapons, so tin and lead were added to the alloy to make the metal soft and brittle, not suitable for weapons. The iron coins of this series may be those referred to. “Enemies making weapons” shows these fiduciary coins were cast in a time of war, just as similar coins were cast during the Western Wars 35 years earlier.

 

S-627. Iron 10 (?) cash. Obverse: “CH’UNG-NING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 32 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 10.07 grams. This is in the same weight and size standard as the bronze 10 cash issue, suggesting this was intended to circulate at that denomination. Rare.

 

Reign title : TA KUAN, AD 1107-1110

 

 

S-630
Orthodox Script

“TA-KUAN YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script, with very fine calligraphy said to be in the Emperor’s own hand, which Hartill refers to as “slender gold” script. They come in a number of different denominations, in both bronze and iron, all with blank reverses. In later times this was a popular model for amulets with a wide variety of reverse types, which are are not coins.

 

Bronze 1 cash, 23 to 24 mm, average 3.85 grams. S-628-629.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

Bronze 2 cash, 29 mm. FD-1059, Hartill 16.421.

F   $60.00     VF   $85.00

 

Bronze 10 cash, average (5 specimens) 41.0 mm, 17.5 grams. S-630.

VF   $25.00     XF   $45.00

This is a large and impressive type first cast in AD 1107, which is reported to have been withdrawn in AD 1109 due to excessive counterfeiting, although we expect that report is a little muddled. When these were issued at about 17 grams, the 11 to 12 gram value 10 coins of the previous reign title were still circulating and counterfeiters could make a significant profit melting these and using the bronze to cast the earlier type. The recall was probably to stop this counterfeiting of that earlier type. These are far too common for a coin officially withdrawn after only two years, suggesting they were hoarded in large numbers at the time.

Schjoth’s specimen weighs 23.52 grams and 40 mm, equivalent to value 8 cash, but it was double-sided and probably an amulet made much later (probably Ming or even Ching period).

 

 

S-632 – iron
Orthodox Script

 

Iron 1 cash. Schjoth’s specimen was about 23 mm, 3.42 grams. S-631.

F   $40.00     VF   $75.00

 

Iron 10 cash (what Hartill calls a 2 cash). Average (2 specimens) 30.5 mm. 7.35 grams. S-632. The size and weight are within the standard for fiduciary 10 cash of the previous reign and since those 10 cash were not devalued to 3 cash until after these coins were issued, we believe these were also issued as feduciary 10 cash.

F   $30.00     VF   $55.00

 

Reign title: CHENG-HO, AD 1111-1117

   

S-645
Seal Script

S-646
Orthodox Script

 

S-633-636. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Average 3.37 grams.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00     XF   $7.00

 

S-637. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox scripts. Reverse: crescent. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.11 grams. We currently have no record of a value for this type.

 

S-638-640. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse blank. Average (4 specimens) 29 mm, 6.89 grams.

F   $3.50     VF   $5.50

 

S-641-642. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Schjoth has two specimens, one of 25 mm, 6.51 grams and another of 21 mm, 5.56 grams (possibly a counterfeit).

F   $25.00     VF   $45.00

 

No bronze 3 cash were cast during this reign title, but Schjoth (page 33) records information suggesting many bronze value 3 cash must have been in circulation: “In the 1st year of Cheng-ho (AD 1111), orders were issued that ‘value ten’ coins, which grasping officials for momentary gain some years before had issued to the harm of the government and the people, should be reduced to ‘value three’. The Minister Chang Shang-ying (died 1121) obtained leave to demonetize all the spurious ‘value 10’ coins met with and cast them into light weight Hsiao-p’ing cash”.

This passage cannot be referring to the type S-630 as these contained at least 8 cash worth of copper and had been recalled in AD 1109. The 10 cash of the western wars had been devalued long before, so the reference must be to the value 10 coins of the Ch’ung-ning reign title which contain about 3 cash worth of metal.

“Hsiao-p’ing cash” is a term that can describe any lightweight cash. In some other references it appears to refer to value 1 cash of either bronze or iron, but in a few references seems to specifically mean fiduciary iron coins where “lightweight” means coins which weigh far less than the value at which they circulated, in which case they may be the following two coins:

 

S-643-644. Iron 2 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse blank. 29 mm. Schjoth had two specimens, 6.82 and 9.66 grams. The size and weight of these suggests a value 2 denomination was intended.

F   $25.00     VF   $45.00

 

S-645-646. Iron 3 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse blank. Average (2 specimens) 31.8 mm, 32 mm. Average 9.10 grams. The size and weight of these suggests a value 3 denomination was intended.

F   $25.00     VF   $45.00

 

Reign title: CHUNG-HO, AD 1118

 

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-647
Orthodox Script

 

S-647. Bronze 1 (?) cash. Obverse: “CHUNG-HO T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 26 mm. 4.97 grams. This coin is peculiar in not fitting into any of the regular size and weight standards. If truly a medieval coin, it would probably be a counterfeit value 2 cash, and being a rare type, we would prefer to examine it for authenticity before committing to a classification for it.

 

Reign title: HSUAN-HO, AD 1119-1125

   

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-656
Seal Script
with T’UNG PAO

S-660
Orthodox Script
with T’UNG PAO

S-652
Orthodox Script
with YUAN PAO

 

S-648-650 & 653-655. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Average 3.51 grams.

F   $3.50     VF   $6.00

 

S-651. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal script. Reverse: crescent at the top and star (more like a donut) at the bottom. 24 mm. 3.05 grams. We have not had this type, and cannot suggest a value at this time.

 

S-662. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO”. Orthodox (?) script. Reverse: “SHEN”. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.0 grams. These are rare and we cannot currently assign a value to them.

 

We assume “SHEN” is a mint mark (very unusual on a Northern Sung coin). Schjoth lists this as a bronze pattern for the iron coin of the same type (see below), but at this time we have no reason to believe this to be true.

 

S-666. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox (?) script. Reverse: “SHEN” (see above). 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.58 grams. These are rare and we cannot currently assign a value to them.

 

S-663-665. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. Schjoth’ had two of 23 mm averaging 5.85 grams, and one of 21 mm, 4.16 grams. These appear to be of and iron 1 cash but the 21 mm specimen may be a counterfeit. These are rare and we cannot currently assign a value to them.

 

S-656-657. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. Average (4 specimens) 28.1 mm. Average 6.28 grams. These are common, and must have been a huge issue as these are very common.

F   $3.50     VF   $5.50

 

S-658-661. Bronze 2 or 3 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank or with a crescent. Average (five specimens) 30 mm, 6.6.84 grams. The crescent reverse should be worth a premium. These are common, and must have been a huge mintage.

F   $3.50     VF   $5.50

 

These larger “HSUAN-HO T’UNG-PAO” coins are a bit of a mystery. The two distinct sizes of 28 and 30 mm suggests two denominations, but both specimens weigh in the 2 cash standard. We need to examine more specimens, and study the coins that follow in the Southern Sung, before commenting further on this series.

 

S-652. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-HO YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weighed 3.24 grams, which he notes had an alloyed appearance, but we are not certain what he meant by that. We have no record of a value for this type.

 

Emperor CH’IN TSUNG, AD 1126

Reign title: CHING-K’ANG, AD 1126

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-667
Seal Script

S-670
Orthodox Script

 

Coins of this reign title are all rare although we have had a few over the years. Unfortunately we do not have a record of the prices. We are attempting to track down the purchasers in order to retrieve this information and image the coins.

 

S-669-670. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CHING-K’ANG T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Schjoth had two specimens, one of 21 mm, 5.7 grams and the other of 24 mm, 7.13 grams. These fall into the weight standard for late North Sung iron 1 cash, but the 21 mm specimen is too small and may be a counterfeit. Rare, no valuation available.

 

S-667-668. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “CHING-K’ANG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 30 mm. Average 7.25 grams. Rare, no valuation available.

 

Schjoth mentions the existence of varieties not represented in his collections, including some with the “CHING-K’ANG YUAN-PAO” inscription, as well as specimens with orthodox script.


 

The dynasty name was changed to Southern Sung after the northern provinces were lost to the Mongol invaders in AD 1127. For a discussion of the Southern Sung coinage please continue to the next page.

THE SOUTHERN SUNG DYNASTY

 

This is a guide to the coins of the Southern Sung Dynasty, not a list of coins for sale. A list of the ancient and medieval Chinese coins we currently have available can be viewed on our : our vcoins store.

 

Images on this site (more coming soon) represent types,
but bear no relationship to actual size.

 

The Northern and Southern Sung Dynasties are really two parts of one dynasty. The division between then is traditionally placed where the Capital was moved from K’ai-feng Fu to Lin-an (modern Hangchou) following the lose of the Northern territories to Mongol invaders. Kao Tsung, first Emperor of Southern Sung, actually ruled from the Northern capital of K’ai-feng Fu for his first two years and could also be considered the last Emperor of Northern Sung.

We have still in the process of researching this portion of our reference guide. We have tried several formats of presenting the information, and have settled on the style currently used for the last few reign titles, but it will take a little while to change over the entire page to that format. For the moment, we are including a number of tables, working theories and various observations in the introduction and body of the text. In many cases these will be removed after the information derived from them has been incorporated into the text. In some cases we may make them available on a separate page.

Please remember that this part of our site is still in a very rough form and is far from complete. There will undoubtedly be a number of errors that will eventually be corrected, and a complete proof reading is still to be performed.


 

AVERAGE WEIGHTS

We have decided to put a chart of the denominations, sizes and weights under each reign title. When the listing is complete the larger table of this information will be eliminated from the site. It this formate proves effective, will will incorporate the it into other parts of the site. Each of these tables has a heading for “#” at the end. This refers to the number of specimens used to determine the average weight.


 

DENOMINATIONS

The bronze denominations used during this dynasty are similar to those used during the Northern Sung dynasty with the additions that there are some non-feduciary 5 and 10 cash issues, as well as one issue of feduciary 100 cash.

A minor difference occurs in the bronze 1 cash in that, while the Northern Sung bronze 1 cash are generally about 24 mm throughout the dynasty, the Southern Sung issues vary between 22 and 25 mm, although there is usually a consistent size within any one reign title and thought, no matter what size, the average weights seem to have remained fairly consistent with an intended weight standard somewhere just over 3 grams.

The iron denominations are very different than those used during the Northern Sung. They are still all feduciary issues, but there seems to have been more acceptance of them as a regular part of the currency although we still have some questions about this. Iron was only issued prolifically during the middle years of the dynasty with no iron issues during the last few reign titles, and there were regular issues of 1 and 2 cash, as well as fairly regular issues of 3 and 5 cash. As many of these issues have survived in fairly large numbers, we have to assume that they were not recalled and melted for scrap metal as the Northern sung issues above 1 cash seem to have been (and are thus much rarer).


 


 

MINTS

Many Southern Sung coins, and in particular the iron coins, have actual mint marks on them. We are just beginning to build this section, and will be adding additional mints as images of the mint marks become available.

 

T’UNG

Refers to the T’ung-an district in Fuken.

 


 

Dates

Many Southern Sung coins, have regnal date marks indicating how many years into the particular reign title the coin was minted. From these we can calculate the exact year of issue, of any coin with such a mark. The date marks we have so far imaged are below, and we will be adding more as become available.

 

YEAR 2

 

YEAR 3

 

YEAR 5

 

YEAR 6

 


 

VALUATIONS

For many type we have not provided a valuation. This does not mean that the type is rare or overly valuable. It simply means we have not found what we feel is an acceptable valuation for the type. In other cases, where a valuation is given for a description which included several year variation, the valuation is for the commonest year that we have handled. If we determine that another year is especially rare or valuable, we will make not of it.

All of our valuations are in Canadian dollars,
which at the time I last updated this are virtually on part with the US dollar.

 

BRONZE & IRON MINT MARKS – NO DATE MARKS

Reign Title

Date

Reverse Types

     

Bronze

Iron

     

CHIEN-YEN

1127-1130

blank
CHUAN

blank

     

SHAO-HSING

1131-1162

blank
crescent
crescent & dots

LI

     

LUNG-HSING

1163-1164

blank

blank

     

CH’IEN-TAO

1165-1173

blank
crescent & dot
CHENG

CHIUNG
T’UNG

     

SHUN-HSI

1174-1189

blank
T’UNG
CH’UAN

crescent & 2 dots
LI
CHIUNG

     

SHAO-HSI

1190-1194

 

crescent & 2 dots

     

CH’ING-YUAN

1195-1200

blank*

crescent & 2 dots

     

CHIA-T’AI

1201-1204

blank **

       

K’AI-HSI

1205-1207

 

blank

     

CHIA-TING

1208-1224

Ch’un/value 5

blank
crescent & 2 dots
TING/crescent & 2 dots
CH’UAN/value 5
LI/value 5
HUI/value 5
value 5
value 10

     

PAO-CH’ING
(using Ta-sung)

1225-1227

 

blank

     

SHAO-TING

1228-1233

         

TUAN-P’ING

1234-1236

blank**
LI/value 10**

blank
CHIUNG/value 5
TING-WU/value 5
HUI/value5/SHI- SHANG

     

CHIA-HSI

1237-1240

blank **
blank *

       

SHUN-YU

1241-1252

value 100

       

PAO-YU
(as Huang-sung)

1253-1258

         

K’AI-CHING

1259

         

CHING-TING

1260-1264

         

HSIEN-SHUN

1265-1274

         

 

* – for some types, blank reverses seem to indicate year one.
** – an unusual large coin, not part of the regular series.

 

COIN WITH REVERSE NUMBERS (USUALLY DATES)
(note that this list is currently far from complete)

Reign Title

Date

Metal

Mint

Year Marks Seen

   

CHIEN-YEN

1127-1130

bronze

blank

none

   

SHAO-HSING

1131-1162

bronze

blank

none

   

LUNG-HSING

1163-1164

bronze

blank

none

   

CH’IEN-TAO

1165-1173

bronze

blank

none

   

SHUN-HSI

1174-1189

bronze

blank

7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16

   

iron

Ch’un

9,11,13,14,15,16

   

iron

T’ung

14,15

   

SHAO-HSI

1190-1194

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5

   

iron

Ch’un

3,4,5

   

iron

T’ung

1,4,5

   

iron

Han

1,2,3,4,5

   

CH’ING-YUAN

1195-1200

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5,6

   

iron

Ch’un

1,2,3,4,6

   

iron

T’ung

1,2,3,4,5,6

   

iron

Han

1,2,3,4,6

   

iron

CHUAN

5, 6-3, 7-3, 9, 6/73

   

iron

crescent
& 2 dots

1-5, 2-5, 3-5, 4-5

   

CHIA-T’AI

1201-1204

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4

   

iron

Ch’un

1,2

   

iron

T’ung

2,3

   

iron

Han

1,2,3

   

iron

Li

96 (probably not a date)

   

iron

CHUAN

1/83, 2/93, 3/40

   

K’AI-HSI

1205-1207

bronze

blank

1,2,3

   

iron

T’ung

1,2,3

   

iron

Ch’un

1,2,3

   

iron

Han

1,2,3

   

iron

Li

10-6 (or 16) (not a date)

   

iron

CHUAN

3/24

   

CHIA-TING

1208-1224

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14

   

iron

blank

3 above & below, 3 above,

   

iron

blank

2 (an unusual type)

   

iron

Li-chou

1

   

iron

Li

3

   

iron

T’ung

1

   

iron

Ch’un

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

   

iron

Han

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

   

iron

Ting

2

   

iron

various

complex unusual series S-934-958
not part of the regular series.

   

CHIA-TING
as Shao-hsing

1208

iron

Li

5 (probably denon. mark)

   

iron

blank

5 (probably denon. mark)

   

PAO-CH’ING
(using Ta-sung)

1225-1227

bronze

blank

1,2,3

   

iron

Ch’uan

3

   

SHAO-TING

1228-1233

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5,6

   

iron

Ch’un

3

   

TUAN-P’ING

1234-1236

bronze

blank

1

   

CHIA-HSI

1237-1240

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4

   

SHUN-YU

1241-1252

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

   

PAO-YU
(as Huang-sung)

1253-1258

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5,6

   

K’AI-CHING

1259

bronze

blank

1

   

CHING-TING

1260-1264

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5

   

HSIEN-SHUN

1265-1274

bronze

blank

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

   

 

At the moment it appears the”crescent & dot” reverse may indicate value 2 coins,
and the “crescent & 2 dots” reverse value 3 coins.

 

SIZES AND PROBABLE DENOMINATIONS

Reign Title

Date

Alloy

mm.

Gr.

Prob. Denom.

 

CHIEN-YEN

1127-1130

bronze

24

3.7

value 1

 

bronze

28

6.0

value 2

 

iron

21

5.0

value 1 (?)

 

SHAO-HSING

1131-1162

bronze

24

3.0

value 1

 

bronze

28

6.0

value 2

 

bronze

30

8.6

value 3 ?

 

iron

18

3.5

value (?)

 

iron

24

3.6

value 1

 

iron

27

6.5

value (?)

 

LUNG-HSING

1163-1164

bronze

24

3.2

value 1

 

bronze

28

7.5

value 2

 

iron

18

4.3

value (?)

 

iron

28

7.8

value 2

 

CH’IEN-TAO

1165-1173

bronze

28

6.0

value 2

 

iron

21

3.7

value (?)

 

iron

21

7.0

value (?)

 

iron

24

8.2

value (?)

 

iron

28

7.7

value 2

 

SHUN-HSI

1174-1189

bronze

24

3.0

value 1

 

bronze

25

3.8

value 1

 

bronze

27

6.0

value 2

 

iron

18

3.0

value ?

 

iron

28

6.5

value 2

 

iron

28

9.0

value 3 (cres\2 dots)

 

iron

31

13.0

value 3 (cres\2 dots)

 

SHAO-HSI

1190-1194

bronze

24

3.4

value 1

 

bronze

28

7.2

value 2

 

iron

23

4.9

value 2

 

iron

27

7.1

value 2?
(1-cres\2 dots)

 

iron

31

10

value 3 (cres\2 dots)

 

CH’ING-YUAN

1195-1200

bronze

22

3.2

value 1

 

bronze

30

6.7

value 3 (?)

 

bronze

31

10.3

value 3

 

iron

24

4.1

value 1

 

iron

29

6.7

value 2

 

iron

30

9

value 3 (cres\2 dots)

 

iron

32

12

value 3 (3 mark)

 

CHIA-T’AI

1201-1204

bronze

24

3.2

value 1

 

bronze

29

6.4

value 2

 

bronze

34

10.7

value 5 or 10 ?

 

iron

29

7.5

value 2 or 3

 

iron

29

10

value 2 or 3 ?

 

iron

32

11

value 3 or 5 ?

 

K’AI-HSI

1205-1207

bronze

23

3.5

value 1

 

bronze

27

6.0

value 2

 

iron

28

6.0

value 2

 

iron

30

10.5

value 3 or 5 ?

 

CHIA-TING
as Shao-hsing

1208

iron

33

11.0

5 (5 mark)

 

CHIA-TING

1208-1224

bronze

24

3.25

value 1

 

bronze

28

6.5

value 2

 

bronze

33

14.0

value 5 or 10 ?

 

bronze

51

38.3

value 10 marked

 

iron

24

4.8

value 1

 

iron

27

7.2

value 2 ?

 

iron

33

9-13

value 3 or 5

 

iron

32

11-14

value 3

 

iron

34

10-14

value 3 or 5

 

PAO-CH’ING
(using Ta-sung)

1225-1227

bronze

23

3.5

value 1

 

bronze

29

6.3

value 2

 

iron

29

7.7

value 2

 

iron

31

12.8

value 3 ?

 

SHAO-TING

1228-1233

bronze

23

3.4

value 1

 

bronze

29

6.6

value 2

 

iron

26

5.9

value 1 or 2

 

TUAN-P’ING

1234-1236

bronze

23

3.8

value 1

 

bronze

34

10.6

value 5 ?

 

bronze

40

26.6

value 10 marked

 

iron

25

7.2

value 1 or 2

 

iron

29

10.9

value 2 or 3

 

iron

35

11.4

value 3 or 5

 

CHIA-HSI

1237-1240

bronze

22

3.6

value 1

 

bronze

27

6.7

value 2

 

bronze

35

15.1

value 5 (?)

 

bronze

48

40.0

value 10 marked

 

SHUN-YU

1241-1252

bronze

23

3.1

value 1

 

bronze

28

5.9

value 2

 

bronze

37

14.2

value 100 marked

 

bronze

50

28.4

value 100 marked

 

PAO-YU
(as Huang-sung)

1253-1258

bronze

23

3.0

value 1

 

bronze

29

5.5

value 2

 

K’AI-CHING

1259

bronze

23

3.1

value 1

 

bronze

27

7.0

value 2

 

CHING-TING

1260-1264

bronze

23

3.1

value 1

 

bronze

28

6.2

value 2

 

HSIEN-SHUN

1265-1274

bronze

22

3.1

value 1

 

bronze

28

4.9

value 2

 

 

UNUSUAL REVERSE TYPES

Schjoth #

Inscription

Possible Translations
or meaning

   

S-683, 687, bronze 2 cash

crescent

Possibly some type of mint mark. Could indicate the number 1 (or 1st mint).    

S-725, bronze 1 cash

crescent/dot

Some suggest this indicates a value 2 cash, but we no longer agree and believe it may be a mint mark although it could indicate 2 or (2nd mint).    

S-703, 727, 728, bronze 2 cash

crescent/dot

   

S-781, iron 2 cash

2 dots/crescent

Some suggest this indicates a value 3 cash but S-781 appears to be a value 2 cash. The number 3 (or 3rd mint) could be intended.    

S-783, 784, 785, 786, 787, 823, 830, 831, 832, 829, iron 3 cash

2 dots/crescent

   

S-784, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fourth six

An usual series of the crescent/2 dots with additional marks. These are the only iron issues of this reign title not baring a clearly identifiable mint mark in this position occupied by the crescent/2 dots, leaving us will little doubt that this is also a mint mark). The secondary marks, running through two reign titles, form a continuous sequence of numbers from 47 to 54 if one accepts, as is apparent from S-785, 786 and 787, that the meaning is the same whether the characters are side by side at the bottom or on opposite sides of the hole.We have developed what we believe to be a strong theory as to the meaning. S-823 bares the crescent/2 dots reverse but no numeric marks giving a total of 5 types in the Ching-yuan title, which is a five year title. The three specimens in Chia-Tai title appear to be dated years 1, 2 and 3 so are sequential with those above, as are the numeric marks. This strongly suggest these numeric marks are annual sequential marks, suggesting #46 (S-784) was cast in AD 1191 (assuming the un-numbered example was cast before the numbering was started). Forty six years earlier was AD 1145 which is in the Shao-Hsing reign title where we see S-683-684-683-84 and S-686-88 which is the first occurrence of the thick crescent on a Southern Sung coin. This suggest these are annual sequential marks dating from when the mint was opened. For this theory to work, we must make one assumption in that Crescent, Crescent/dot and Crescent/2 dots must come under one authority, as the first occurrence does not use the Crescent/2 dots. This does fit with the concept that at least the early mint marks were actually marks of not individual mints, but of governmental districts possibly in charge of more than one mint (as discussed elsewhere).    

S-785, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fourth seven

   

S-786, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fourth eight

   

S-787, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fourth nine

   

FD-1294, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots, fifty

   

S-830, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fifty one

   

S-831, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fifty two

   

S-832, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fifty three

   

S-833, iron 3 or 5 cash

crescent/2 dots,
fifty four

   

S-824, iron 3 or 5 cash

Chuan, five

This is an odd series. Cast during a six year reign title, no number above six can be a year mark.The marks here are not as clear cut as on the crescent/2 dots series, but we can make a few speculations. First, as the Chuan mint mark resembles the number 3 turned on it’s side, it is possible that S-824 could also be read as 35, and S-827 as 38. One the crescent/2 dots type we have shown and the numbers either side of the hole should be read as if the hole is not present, so S-825 becomes 37 and S-826 becomes 36. The only problem is S-828 with would now read as having both 36 and 37 on it. In spite of this analysis, the meaning of these numbers is still unclear. (remember that this is only a theory and by no means proven.    

S-826, iron 3 or 5 cash

Chuan, six, three

   

S-828, iron 3 or 5 cash

six, Chuan,
thirty seven

   

S-825, iron 3 or 5 cash

Chuan, seven, thirty

   

S-827, iron 3 or 5 cash

nine, Chuan

   

S-854, iron 3 cash

one Chuan
thirty eight

Another unusual series. The one, two and three appear to be year marks. The thirty eight, thirty nine and fourth are uncertain but seem to be continuous with the thirty seven of the series above. The reverse marks clearly seem to be consecutive and not directly related to the reign title. FD-1238 and S-856 are the only two we have so far noted with the same year mark but different reverse marks.    

S-855, iron 3 cash

two Chuan
thirty nine

   

S-856, iron 3 cash

three Chuan, forty

   

FD-1238, iron 3 cash

three Chuan, forty one

   

S-873, iron 3 cash

Chuan, three, forty two

This coin continues the sequence of the two series above. A pattern is definitely here.

   
         
         

 

The data collected in these charts is based on a limited number of sources. It is almost a certainty that more dates will eventually be added to the date chart, and that there may be denominations and possible mints that we have not yet come across. The current information should cover most issues but it is possible some new discoveries may cause us to re-evaluate some of our interpretations in the future.

The weights listed in this chart are only quick estimates based on the specimens in the Schjoth collection. It should be assumed that many of the coins were worn and possibly corroded (especially the iron) and that the average weight when cast would have been as much as 10% higher.

From these tables we are able to make the following observations:

1) There do not seem to be any examples of the same mint mark appearing on both bronze and iron coins during a reign title.

2) Early bronze coins sometimes have mint marks, and most later bronze coins have date marks, but be have not found an example where both occur together on a bronze coin.

3) The “mint” marks may be more complex then they first appear, and in some cases may not be true mint marks. At no more than eight in any one title, and in some cases only one is used, there seem to be too few mints to account for the numbers of coins that should have been needed. At times the Northern Sung at as many as twenty-six mints operating. With the loss of the Northern Territories, the Southern Sung would have had a smaller population, but they did occupy the most populous parts of China and the needs would have been cut no more than in half. Schjoth (page 34) notes that “Li”, “Chuan” and “Chiung” were all district names rather than distinct cities.

4) There must have been a major currency reform during the Shun Hsi reign title (AD 1174-1189). The use of mint marks on iron coins was greatly expanded sometime between 1174 and 1180. In 1180 date marks were introduced. It also appears that during this period the use of iron coins was greatly expanded.

5) The use of iron coins is greatly reduced at AD 1224 and seems to stop around AD 1230.

6) The normal working denominations and standards for bronze coins do not seem to have changed a great deal from the Northern Sung period. The basic one cash seems to been cast under most reign titles at a standard between 3 and 4 grams with the size early in the dynasty about 24 mm and gradually reducing to about 22 mm by the end of the dynasty. Most reign titles cast bronze 2 cash of a standard between 5.75 and 7.5 grams (also as in the Northern Sung) with the size varying between 27 and 30 mm, a slightly wider range than in the Northern Sung. A few reign titles cast bronze 5 and 10 cash coins, several of which are clearly marked as to their denomination, but in most cases are cast to a weight standard close to official standard (15-17 grams for a 5 cash and 30-35 grams for a 10 cash). Only in one instance were high denomination feduciary bronze coins cast (at a value of 100 cash).

7) At first glance the iron coins seem to work on a system similar to the Northern Sung system whereby size if important but weights vary considerably. We are still working on this part, but it appears that value 2 iron cash were cast at about 28-30 mm with weights abut 6.5 to 8 grams, about the same as the bronze value 2. Value 3 iron cash at about 31-33 mm but with weights between 8 and 13 grams. Something what were cast here, but not during the Northern Sung, were value 5 iron coin. There is little doubt about them as some types were clear marked as value 5. They tend to be about 34 mm 10 to 15 grams.

8) At first is appeared that the crescent/dot and 2 dots/crescent reverse types indicated value 2 and value 3 coins. A closer examination of the coins shows that this is probably not the case. It would imply the the crescent only types, such as 683 and 687 were value 1 cash, but those two are obviously 2 value 2 cash. S-725 bares the crescent/dot reverse but appears to be a 1 cash. While the 2 dots/crescent reverse usually occures on value 3 cash, S-781 is an example where the marks occure on a value 2 cash. The meaning of these marks still remains a mystery, but at the moment it appears that the most likely explanation is that they are mint marks of some type. We have noted that they only occur on bronze coins during the early period when other mint marks also appear on bronze coins. Later, when mint marks only occur on iron coins, these marks also only occur on iron coins. At the moment, this early draft of this site may have some types described with these marks listed as denomination marks, but these comments will be removed from the next draft.

 

Emperor KAO TSUNG
AD 1127-1162

Reign title: CHIEN-YEN, AD 1127-1131

S-671, 673 Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIEN-YEN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox and seal scripts. Reverse: blank. 23-24 mm.

 

S-672, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIEN-YEN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: “CHUAN” which Schjoth believes referes to Western Szechuan (probably Ch’eng-tu Fu mint). 22 mm.

 

S-674-676. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “CHIEN-YEN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox and seal scripts. Reverse: blank. 28 mm. Average average 6.5 grams (ranging from 5.33 to 8.6 grams). Schjoth assigned a value of 3 cash to the 8.6 gram specimen all three are the same size and fit into the Northern Sung standard for a 2 cash.

F   $9.00     VF   $15.00

 

S-677-678. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIEN-YEN T’UNG-PAO”in seal script. Reverse: blank. 20 m. Average 5.08 grams. These are very small coins, but weights fit with earlier Iron 1 cash. These need further study.

 

We believe the iron and bronze coins of similar size circulated at the same values, with the iron coin being fiduciary by a ratio of about 10 to 1 by weight. A discussion of the development of the iron coinage during the North Sung Dynasty can be found of that part of our site.

 

Reign title: SHAO-HSING, AD 1131-1162

S-679. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weight 2.81 grams.

 

S-680. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING YUAN-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: crescent. 24 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weight 3.07 grams.

 

S-681-689. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING YUAN-PAO” in seal script. Reverse: blank or with a variety of crescents and dots. 28-29 mm. Schjoth’s specimen weight 5.50 grams but include a number of relatively light weight specimens that may be contemporary counterfeits. It appears that the intended standard may have been somewhat over 6 grams.

 

SCRIPT

REVERSE

TOP

TOP/BOTTOM

TOP RIGHT

ORTHODOX

blank

crescent

crescent/dot

crescent

SEAL

blank

crescent

crescent/dot

 

 

This chart shows in interesting trend in that, with the exception of one rather oddly positioned crescent, there appears to be parallel development in the crescents and dots in both script styles. The exact meaning of this is not yet clear, and more types may exist, but we currently speculate that the crescents and dots are mint marks.

 

S-690, 691. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING T’UNG-PAO” in seal and orthodox scripts. Reverse: blank. 29 mm. Schjoth had two specimens averaging 6.87 grams.

 

S-692. Iron 2 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 27 mm. Schjoth had one specimen of 6.82 grams.

 

S-693. Iron 2 (or 1) cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: “LI”. 26 mm. Schjoth had one specimen of 5.82 grams.

 

On this type, Schjoth (page 34) has recognized that the reverse mark “LI” is not a city name, but rather the name of a governmental area made up of parts of Szechuan and Shensi. This suggest that rather than a mint mark, it is a governing authority in charge of possibly several mints. It is possible this is also the case for the other Southern Sung “Mint Marks” that occur later in the series.

 

S-694. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 23 mm. Schjoth had one specimen of 3.84 grams.

 

S-695. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: “LI”. 23 mm. Schjoth had one specimen of 3.52 grams.

 

S-696. Iron 1 (?) cash. Obverse: “SHAO-HSING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. 18 mm. Schjoth had one specimen of 3.20 grams.

 

These small (under 22 mm) iron cash is something new to the Sung series. We cannot dismiss them as a counterfeit as similar coins were cast during the following reign titles. Further analysis is needed on these.

 

Emperor HSIAO TSUNG
AD 1163-1189

Reign title: LUNG-HSING, AD 1163-1164

Reign title: CH’IEN TAO, AD 1165-1173

 

ORTHODOX SCRIPT

T’UNG MINT

Hartill 17.150, iron 2 cash,”CH’IEN-TAO YUAN-PAO”, mint mark at the bottom, no date mark. Average (1 specimen) 26.0 mm, 4.69 grams.

VF   $95.00

 

Reign title: SHUN HSI, AD 1174-1189

NO MINT MARK

S-725 variety, bronze 1 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, Reverse: crescent and two dots at bottom.

gF   $8.50

 

S-730, bronze 2 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, no year mark.

gF   $7.00

 

MINT AND DATE MARKED COINS

Sometime in the first 6 years of Shun-hsi, the practice of putting Mint marks on the reverse was introduced for Iron but not bronze coins. The 7th year saw the introduction of regal dates on the reverse of almost all coins, bronze and iron. Schjoth (page 34) states the dates were added to stop illicit casting, and were successful in doing so. There has to be more to this than meets the eye. We see no reason why the practice would have affected counterfeiting by the general population, as they would have simply made coins bearing the date and mint marks. Since the counterfeiting stopped, we can assume the problem was not with the general public. On the other hand, when mint and date marks are combined, it makes it possible to identify the mint official responsible for any given issue. This would be a great deterrent to the casting of sub-standard coins by official mints.

The next question that is raised is why were mint marks not added to bronze coins. The obvious answer would appear to be that there was only one mint casting bronze coins, but is not certain. The bronze coins of this reign title are fairly common, and seem to exist in numbers far to large for the production of a single mint. Another possible answer is that bronze coins, being non-feduciary in nature, were not as easy a target for sub-standard casting and as tight of controls were not deemed necessary. This is an area that needs more research.

 

S-735, bronze 2 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, Year-11.

F   $6.00

 

S-735, bronze 2 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, Year-11.

gVF   $12.00

 

S-738, bronze 2 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, Year-14.

aVF/F   $7.00

 

CH’UN MINT

S-751, iron 2 cash “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, Year-14.

gF   $45.00

 

T’UNG MINT

NOT LISTED, like S-726 but iron 2 cash,
“SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”, no year mark,
Reverse: mint mark at the top.

gF   $40.00

 

NOT LISTED, iron 2 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”,
Year-14. Reverse: mint mark at the top.

aVF   $65.00

 

NOT LISTED, iron 2 cash, “SHUN-HSI YUAN-PAO”,
Year-15 (to left), Reverse: mint mark to the right and date to the left (unusual).

gF   $75.00

 

Emperor KUANG TSUNG
AD 1190-1194

Reign title: SHAO-HSI, AD 1190-1194

 

CH’UN MINT

S-772, iron 1 cash, “SHAO-HSI T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

VF/F   $39.50

 

NOT LISTED, iron 2 cash, “SHAO-HSI T’UNG-PAO”,
Year-3 to left, mint mark to the right, orthodox script.

VF/F   $75.00

 

T’UNG MINT

NOT LISTED, iron 2 cash, “SHAO-HSI T’UNG-PAO”,
mint mark at the top. There is no year mark but it may have been removed.

VF   $10.00

 

NOT LISTED, iron 2 cash, “SHAO-HSI T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

VF/G   $40.00

 

HAN MINT

It appears that the Han mint (in Hupei province) was opened in the first year of Shao-hsi (AD 1190). While Schjoth did not have one, we have owned an example of Han year-1.

 

Emperor NING TSUNG
AD 1195-1224

The coinage of Ning Tsung is by far the most interesting and diversified of the Sung Dynasties, and possibly any Chinese Emperor. During as 29 year reign he used 5 reign titles, issued prolifically in both bronze and iron, and made extensive use of mint and date marks. Schjoth lists about 180 different examples, which is by no means a complete listing of what must have existed.

 

This is the part of this site that we will be working on next.

 

Reign title: CH’ING-YUAN, AD 1195-1200

 

 

Schjoth (page 36) says “In the 3rd year of Ch’ing-yuan (A.D. 1197) the Shen-ch’uan mint cast ‘value three’ coins from the accumulated copper utensils obtained”. The coins referred to appear to be the larger copper issues, S-800-802, which do not bear mint marks. Schjoth has specimens date years 4, 5 and 6. This appears to be the same mint that cast a set of unusual iron coins (S-854-856) which appear to be dated years 1, 2 and 3. This is the first evidence we have found that during a single reign title a mint cast both non-mint-marked copper coins and mint marked iron coins, but it should be noted that there is no overlap in the date marks, so there is still no evidence of both being cast at one mint at the same time.

 

CH’UN MINT

S-806, iron 1 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

F   $35.00

 

S-806, iron 1 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

gF   $40.00

 

NOT LISTED, iron 1 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-6.

VF/F   $40.00

 

S-814, iron 2 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-3.

VF/VG   $35.00

 

S-816, iron 2 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-6.

F   $40.00

 

HAN MINT

NOT LISTED iron 1 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-4.

aF   $29.50

 

T’UNG MINT

NOT LISTED, iron 1 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

VG/F   $25.00

 

NOT LISTED,iron 1 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

VG-F   $25.00

 

S-812, iron 2 cash, “CH’ING-YUAN T’UNG-PAO”, Year-5.

VG-F   $29.50

 

CHUAN MINT

Schjoth 824-828 represent an unusual series of iron coins. The meaning of Chuan mint mark is fairly clear but there are other characters of uncertain meaning. S-824 has a “5” to the left which may or may not be a date mark. S-825 as two marks, 7 at right and 30 at left (formed by a combined 3 and 10), neither of which can be a date mark as this title only lasted six years. S-826 has a “6” at the left and “3” at the right. Either one, but not both, could be date marks but S-825 and S-827 suggest this series is not dated. S-827 has a “9” at the top beside “Chuan”, which cannot be a date mark. S-828 has a “6” at the top beside “Chuan” and the same 7 and 30 marks seen on S-826, at the bottom. The meaning of these is unclear, but it should be noted that a similar series (S-854-856), also of the chuan mint, have similar marks, as does S-873. It appears that the Chuan mint used a different system than other mints. At 33 mm, these coins are larger than the normal series (although the same as S-829-834 discussed next). It is possible they are some type of emergency issues but we are as yet unable to provide an explanation of them.

 

IRON COINS WITHOUT MINTMARKS

Schjoth 829-833 are another odd series of iron coin. Since they are also 33 mm, they are probably related to S-824-828. Schjoth lists these as of unclear meaning, but we have a theory about them. All have the crescent with 2 dots at the top, which Schjoth suggests means value 3 cash, which we will accept for the moment (but are uncertain about). The marks at the bottom 1-5 (or 15), 2-5 (or 25), 3-5 (or 35), 4-5 (or 45) and 6-5 (or 65). Note there is no 5-5 but there is a type with no numbers on the reverse that may occupy that position in the series (the Chinese of this period did not like to repeat characters on coins, as can be seen from some unusual reign titles). Also note we have not yet documented any year-5 iron coins from other mints. It is possible that in year 5 an experiment was tried whereby the 1, 2, 3, 4, blank=5, and 6 indicate the mints of issue. Other explanations are possible, including that the numbers indicate furnaces (workshops) with one central mint. It has also been suggested that these are mould series marks, but as non-reusable sand molds were probably used, and every mould was different, mold numbers would be pointless.

At first glance, S-823 to 833 all appear to be value 3 cash. Some bare the crescent with 3 dots mark which may indicate value 3. There seem to be two weight standards in use. S-823-829 are all in the 11 to 13 grams range while 830 to 833 are at a 9 to 10 gram range. The 9 to 10 grams coins have no mint marks but the crescent with 2 dots mark at the top, with double digit mark at the bottom composed a 5 on the right and A 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the left. This confused the issue slightly and needs to be given more consideration. The heavier coins, S-823-829 are years 5, 6, 7 and 8 as well as one with no date mark.

 

Reign title: CHIA-T’AI, AD 1201-1204

 

ORTHODOX SCRIPT

S-843. Bronze 3 cash. Obverse : CHAI T’AI TUNG PAO (read clockwise from the top). Reverse : blank. Average (1 specimen) 34.6 mm, 10.54 grams.

S-852 is shown in Schjoth’s illustration as a blank reverse, but in the text he notes it is a blurred reverse, indication something was there.

 

S-853 is an unusual coin. It has the “LI” mint mark at the top and the numbers 9 and 6 (or 96) at the bottom. Neither digit can be a date. This seems to be related to S-829-833 above although it is not over-sized as they were. We do not yet have an explanation this.

 

S-854-856 are also unusual. On the top of the reverses they all have the Chuan mint mark with the digits 1, 2 and 3 beside. This appear to be year marks. At the bottom they each have another double digit mark, 8-3 (or 83), 93 (or 93) and 10-4 (or 40). As yet we do not have an explanation for them.

 

Reign title: K’AI-HSI, AD 1205-1207

BRONZE ISSUES

Under the K’ai-Hsi title bronze coins were issued in both the 1 and 2 cash denomination, with date marks but not mint marks. The 1 cash average (3 specimens) 3.44 grams, 24 mm. The 2 cash average (3 specimens) 5.73 grams, 28 mm.

S-857. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : “Yuan” for year-1 (AD 1205). Value not yet recorded.

S-858. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : Year mark for year-2 (AD 1206).     F   $4.00     VF   $6.50

S-859. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : Year mark for year-3 (AD 1207). Value not yet recorded.

S-860. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : “Yuan” for year-1 (AD 1205). Value not yet recorded.

S-861. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : Year mark for year-2 (AD 1206). &Value not yet recorded.

S-862. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : Year mark for year-3 (AD 1207). Value not yet recorded.

IRON ISSUES

The iron issues of the K’ai-hsi period are for the most part fairly standard. There are issues for year 1, 2 and 3 from each of the three principle mints of T’ung, Han and Ch’un, but only in the two cash denomination.

S-863 to 871. Iron 3 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : date and mint mark. These will be written up at some future date.

Schjoth listed the following three issues that do not fit the standard pattern but appear to be of a 3 cash denomination.

S-872. Iron 3 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : blank. Average (1 specimen) 10.93 grams. The blank reverse on this specimen seems rather odd and does not fit with other issues of this period. I suspect Schjoth’s specimen was simply too corroded and what ever was on the reverse was not visible. Value not yet determined.

S-873. Iron 3 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : “SAN CH’UAN SSU ERH” (thee Ch’uan twenty four). It seem likely that 3 Ch’uan means third year at Ch’uan mint, but the meaning of the 24 is as yet unclear (Schjoth speculates it is a mold number that seem unlikely to me). Average (1 specimen) 11.58 grams. value not yet determined.

S-874. Iron 3 cash. Obverse : “K’ai-Hsi T’ung-pao”. Reverse : “LI LIU SHIH” (LI sixty). LI may be the mark for the Shao-Hsing mint in Li-chou. The meaning of the number sixty is as yet uncertain. Average (1 specimen) 9.35 grams.

 

Reign title: CHIA-TING, AD 1208-1224

S-903-904 iron only unusual in that the Li-chou mint mark is written in full rather than with only the Character for LI.

 

S-905 iron is unusual as it does not have a mint mark and the date mark is at the top. It is a typical type for an bronze coin. It should be checked to see if it is really iron.

 

S-934-958 are a complex series of coins that will need a lot of study to sort out. This will have to wait until later.

 

Emperor LI TSUNG, AD 1225-1264

Not that Schjoth (top of page 40) notes that Li tsung’s government was over-burdened with the difficulties of war. This must be considered when interpreting this next series of coins. It might help explain the unusual series S-983-990. Is the stopping iron issues (from S-991 on) related to this war?

 

Reign title: PAO-CH’ING, AD 1225-1227

To use the Pao-ch’ing reign title on a coin would have required the character for “Pao” to occur twice on the same coin. It had long been established that characters were generally not repeated on the obverse of Chinese coins, so in a tradition stating much earlier, an inscription commemorating the Sung Dynasty was chosen. In this case it was “TA-SUNG YUAN-PAO” which means roughly “coinage of the great Sung dynasty”.

Schjoth seems to think that coins with the “Pao-ch’ing” inscriptions were cast in the first few months of this title, but he did not have a specimen and we have never seen one. Since is would have gone against long standing tradition to have cast such coins, we would want to examine any such specimens for authenticity before including them in this listing.

 

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

23 mm

3.45 gr

2

Bronze 2 cash

29 mm

6.29 gr

3

Iron 2 cash

29 mm

7.74 gr

2

Iron 3 cash

31 mm

12.83 gr

1

       

 

BRONZE COINS

S-959-960, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 3 been documented (we once had the year 2 that Schjoth was missing).

VF   $27.50

 

S-961-963,bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “TA-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. Years 2 and 3 have been documented. Schjoth had a year three with a crescent in the bottom right corner. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

IRON COINS

NO MINT MARK

S-965 iron 2 cash. Obverse: “TA-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. This coin is an anomaly for this period, as blank reverses are not normal on iron coins. Sometimes the reverses are weak on these and if the coin was in poor condition, possibly not legible. This coin should be examined very closely. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

S-966 iron 2 cash. Obverse: “TA-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: “LI-CHOU HSING-SHIH” (the currency of Li-Chou). Not that these is not date on this type. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

CH’UAN MINT

S-964 iron 3 cash. Obverse: “TA-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: “CH’UAN SAN” (Ch’uan mint year 3). Only year 3 has been documented but we would expect others to exist. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

Schjoth listed all three of these iron coins as value 3 cash, but both the sizes and the weights clear indicate that two different denominations were intended

 

Reign title: SHAO-TING, AD 1228-1233

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

23 mm

3.37 gr

7

Bronze 2 cash

29 mm

6.65 gr

6

Iron 1 cash

25 mm

5.89 gr

1

       

 

BRONZE COINS

S-967-972, 975 bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-TING T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 6 been documented.

F   $5.00     VF   $9.00

 

S-973, 974, 976-979 bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-TING T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. Only year 1 has been documented. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

Schjoth describes his example #975 as a clipped two cash, but if the diameter within the rims are drawn accurately, we so no reason to believe it was not cast as a one cash.

 

IRON COINS

CH’I-CHUN MINT

S-980 iron 1 cash. Obverse: “SHAO-TING T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: “CH’UN SAN” (Ch’un mint year 3). Only year 3 has been documented but we would expect others to exist. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

Reign title: TUAN-P’ING, AD 1234-1236

This is the last Southern Sung reign title under which iron coins were cast, and for which mint marks were used.

 

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

22 mm

3.76 gr

1*

Bronze 5 cash

34 mm

10.64 gr

1

Bronze 10 cash

40 mm

26.58 gr

1

Iron 1 cash

25 mm

7.19 gr

1

Iron 2 cash

29 mm

10.92 gr

1

Iron 5 cash

35 mm

11.36 gr

1

 

* One of the two specimens Schjoth had is listed as weighing 5.91 grams, which is so far off the usual standard we have to assume the listing is an error and have only included one of the specimens in the weight calculation. Hopefully we will be able to locate more specimens in the near future.

 

BRONZE COINAGE

S-981-982, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. Only year 1 has been documented. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

S-983, bronze 5 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. A recent specimen we handled was 35.5 mm, 10.4 grams. This is a fairly common type.

F   $15.00     VF   $25.00

 

S-984, bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: “LI CHE SHIH” (Li-chou value 10). We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

Schjoth (page 39) suggest this is a bronze trial casting for an iron type. As it bears a mint mark this is possible, but as of yet we have not seen any evidence for iron examples having been issued. The presence of bronze value 10 cash coins in the next reign title, as well as under Chia-ting (AD 1208-1224), suggest it was more likely was intended as a bronze 10 cash. The mint mark makes it an anomaly amoung bronze coins of this period, but many of the coins of this reign title are unusual types.

 

IRON COINAGE

The iron coins of this reign are unusual in that none of the specimens we have so far documented bear dates, and only some of them bear mint marks. This shows some type of coinage reform was underway, which seems to have resulted in a total stop to the issue of iron coins by the end of this period.

 

CHIUNG MINT

S-985, iron 5 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: “CHIUNG WU” (Chiung mint value 5). We have not yet determined a value for type.

 

TING-CHOU MINT

S-986, iron 5 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: “TING-WU PEI-SHANG” (value five of Ting-chou, upper north). We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

HUI (MIN) MINT

S-988, iron 5 cash. Obverse: TUAN-P’ING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “HUI-WU HSI-SHANG” (value five of Hui Mint, upper western). We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

Schjoth illustrates both S-986 and 988 as being without rims, but makes no comment about this. We assume that his specimen was just in very poor condition, which is not unusual for iron coins. Both types have reverse inscriptions which are not yet understood. Like some other South Sung Iron coins of this general period, there is a reference to a geographic direction and a rank with these as upper, S-1000 as second. We are not sure if his translation is correct and wonder if upper could also mean something like main, first or primary, in which case we might take these to mean that the mint mark lists the governmental office in charge and that the secondary mark referes either to a specific mint, or a workshop within a mint. This needs more research and the help of a better translator.

 

NO MINT MARKS

S-989, iron 1 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. We have not yet determined a value for this type yet.

 

Schjoth refers to this as a 2 cash but at 25 mm it is far more likely to have been intended as a 1 cash. At 7.19 grams it a little heavy, but all the evidence indicates that size is far more important then weight in determining denomination (see our discussion of size and weights under the Northern Sung dynasty) and it is not unusual for iron coins to be significantly heavier than bronze coins of the same size. (the same applies to the 2 cash below).

 

S-990, iron 2 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Schjoth refers to this as a 3 cash but at 29 mm it is far more likely to have been intended as a 2 cash. We have not yet determined a value for this type yet.

 

S-987, iron 5 cash. Obverse: “TUAN-P’ING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. We have not yet determined a value for this type yet.

 

Reign title: CHIA HSI, AD 1237-1240

 

 

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

22 mm

3.58gr

3

Bronze 2 cash

27 mm

6.66 gr

5

Bronze 5 cash

37 mm

15.75 gr

3

Bronze 10 cash

48 mm

40.04 gr

1

 

S-991-993, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-HSI T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 4 have been documented.

VG   $3.50     F   $5.00

 

S-994-998, bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-HSI T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 4 have been documented, plus a year 2 with a crescent at the top. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

S-999, bronze 5 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-HSI CHUNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. We recently had a two specimens, both of 37 mm. The average weight of thee specimens was 15.75 grams. The specimens we have had were well cast with bold deep characters.

F   $50.00     VF   $75.00

 

Schjoth considered these to be value 3 cash, but at 35-37 mm and about 16 grams, it is much larger than the 31-32 mm and 10.74 grams one would expect (based on a average 3.58 for the one cash) but only slightly below the range one would expect for a value 5 cash. The next issue, S-1000, is clearly intended to be a value 10 cash, and at 40.0 grams is just at the upper limit for a full weight 10 cash, we feel it is safe to assume S-999 was intended as a non-fiduciary 5 cash.

 

S-1000, bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-HSI T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: denomination mark for 10 at the top with “HSI ERH” at the bottom. We have not yet determined a value for this type.

 

As the weight of this issue is consistent with a 10 cash, we so no reason not to believe that the “10” at the top of this coin is not a mark of denomination. The ‘HSI ERH” at the bottom is more of a mystery. Schjoth translates it to “Western second (series)”, the meaning of this is as yet uncertain. We can speculate that this is a type of mintmark. Earlier we mentioned that some of the “mint marks” are in fact the names of governmental admistrative districts, rather than specific mints, and that it is possible that several mints may have opperated withing each of these areas. It is possible that the term “Western second series” is a designation of a specific mint within one of these areas.

 

Reign title: SHUN-YU, AD 1241-1252

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

23 mm

3.09 gr

10

Bronze 2 cash

28 mm

5.87 gr

10

Bronze 100 cash

37 mm

14.22 gr

1

Bronze 100 cash

50 mm

28.41 gr

1

 

S-1001-1010, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “SHUN-YU YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 12 have been documented

VG   $3.50     F   $5.00     VF   $9.00

 

S-1011-1021, bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “SHUN-YU YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. Years 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 have been documented. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

S-1022-1023, bronze 100 cash. Obverse: “SHUN-YU YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating the denomination. These do not have year marks. We have had one example of the smaller version in

gF   195.00.

 

S-1022 is half the weight of S-1023. It may be significant that that S-1022 is about the same standard as S-999 (probably a 5 cash), and S-1023 is about the same as S-1000 (10 cash), both of the previous reign title. The question is why would such fiduciary issues be necessary. A study of the history of this reign title might suggest something. The most likely cause would be an economic crisis brought on by war. It is likely the two sizes date to different parts of the reign, but without date marks we may never know for sure.

 

Reign title: PAO-YU, AD 1253-1258

 

 

Coins of this reign title us the inscription “HUANG-SUNG YUAN-PAO” which means “the currency of the Imperial Sung”. This was done was using Pao-yu would require repeating the character for Pao, which was considered to be incorrect. A similar situation occurs on some coins of the Northern Sung period.

 

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

23.0 mm

3.00 gr

7

Bronze 2 cash

29.1 mm

5.54 gr

6

 

S-1024-1029, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUANG-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years 1 to 6 have been documented.

F   $4.50

 

S-1030-1035, bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “HUANG-SUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years 1 to 6 have been documented.

F   $6.00     VF   $9.00

 

Reign title: K’AI-CHING, AD 1259

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

23 mm

3.13 gr

1

Bronze 2 cash

27 mm

6.97 gr

1

 

S-1036, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-CH’ING T’UAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark for Year-1. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

S-1037, bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “K’AI-CH’ING T’UAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark for Year-1. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

Reign title: CHING-TING, AD 1260-1264

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

23 mm

3.06 gr

4

Bronze 2 cash

28 mm

6.19 gr

7

 

S-1038-1041, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHING-TING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. Years -1, 2, 3 and 4 are known.

VG   $3.50     F   $6.00     VF   $8.50

 

S-1042-1048, bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “CHING-TING YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 5 have been documented. As well, Schjoth has one example of year 4 with a crescent at the right. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

Emperor TU TSUNG
AD 1265-1274

Tu Tsung was the last emperor of the Sung dynasty, ruling for 10 years with only one reign title.

 

Reign title: HSIEN-SHUN, AD 1265-1274

DENOMINATION

SIZE

WEIGHT

#

Bronze 1 cash

22 mm

3.11 gr

6

Bronze 2 cash

28 mm

4.86

9

 

S-1049-1054, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIEN-SHUN YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. Years -1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 are known. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

S-1055-1063, bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “HSIEN-SHUN YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: mark indicating year of issue. All years from 1 to 8 have been documented. As well, Schjoth has one example of year 4 with a crescent at the right. We have not yet determined a value for these.

 

The current data suggest that there was a weight reduction in the 2 cash, from about 6.2 to 4.9 grams. We need to see more specimens to be sure this is really the case, but if it is, it may have been a measure take as the Mongols were closing in.


 

BRONZE CURRENCY BARS

Schjoth lists these as talley sticks, which we take to mean they were used to keep track of accounts. The inscriptions state they were “current” which clearly indicated they circulated and were therefore money. Similar items, but of bamboo, were made and circulated at the end of the Ching Dynasty and early in the Republic.

It is not clear when, or by whom, these were issued, but Schjoth (page 40) indicates that Lin-an-fu (now Hangchow) only had that name from AD 1129 until the end of the Sung period. If this is correct, then these must have been cast during the Southern Sung Dynasty.

 

S-1064, bronze 500 cash currency bar. Obverse: “LIN-AN-FU HSING-YUNG” (current in Lin-an Prefecture”. Reverse: “CHU WU PAI WEN SHENG” (Value five hundred cash with a reduction). 22×70 mm, 26.14 grams. No value yet determined.

 

S-1064a, bronze currency bar. Obverse: “LIN-AN-FU HSING-YUNG” (current in Lin-an Prefecture”. Reverse: “CHU WU PAI WEN SHENG” (Value two hundred cash with a reduction). 20×65 mm, 18.80 grams. No value yet determined.

 

The statement that they are valued with a reduction is something we do not yet understand. We have seen a number of these offered for sale in recent years. In our opinion, none that we examined were genuine.

TARTAR, MONGOL, MING DYNASTIES
(A.D. 960 to 1644)

 

This page is a reference guide for Chinese coins issued by the Tartar, Mongol, Ming and other medieval non-Sung Dynasties between (A.D. 960 to 1644), not an offering of coins for sale. A listing of the ancient and medieval Chinese coins we currently have available can be viewed on our : our vcoins store.

 

Images used on this page represent the types, but bear no relationship
to the actual size of the coins. Where known, the actual sizes will be listed.

 

LIAO DYNASTY, AD 907-1125

The Liao were a Tartar Dynasty known as the Ch’i-tan or Ki-tan Tartars, first established by T’ai Tsu in AD 907 during the period of the 5 dynasties. The dynasty lasted for 218 years until AD 1125, ruling from their capital at Beijing. For most of their existence they existed along side the Northern Sung Dynasty, in what appears to be somewhat less than peaceful co-existance.

The first Emperor of Liao did not issue any coins. There were five Emperors between AD 907 and 1031 who issued coins, but only a handful of each type is known to exist and it is unlikely any genuine examples will come on the market. We have not listed them here as it is unlikely anyone viewing this site to identify a coin will have one, but you will find information on them on page 216 of David Hartill’s book CAST CHINESE COINS. Schjoth (page 41) notes a record of the Liang Dynasty Emperor Mo, using the reign title Lung-te, issuing large numbers of coins during this period, which are likely what circulated in the Liao region for what little need the Liao people had of coins at that time.

The earliest readily available coins of Liao begin with the Emperor Hsing Tsung during his second reign title of Ch’ung Hsi after he established the first Liao central mint in Manchuria in AD 1053. The mint was not particularly skilled and most Liao coins are fairly crude, poor quality castings.

There are some differences in the dating of the Liao reign titles by Schjoth and Hartill, and we have chosen to use those given by Hartill as it is much more recent and almost certainly more reliable research.


 

Emperor HSING TSUNG
AD 1031-1055

reign title: CHING-FU, AD 1031

No coins were cast by Emperor Hsing Tsung under this title.

 

reign title: CH’UNG-HSI, AD 1032-1055

S-1065. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’UNG-HSI TUNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank Average 24 mm. These coins tend to be poorly cast.

VF   $250.00

 

Schjoth (page 41) records that “in the 22nd year of Ch’ung-hsi (AD 1053) a cash bureau was established at Ch’ang-ch’un in Manchuria”. We assume this is the same as saying a Mint was established there. From this time on, the coinage of Liao becomes much more abundant. We hope to one day look into the events that may have prompted them to take such a move.


 

Emperor TAO TSUNG
AD 1055-1101

reign title: CH’ING-NING, AD 1055-1064

 

S-1066. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’ING-NING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimen) 2.57 grams, 24.3 mm (but the specimen was rather worn). These coins tend to be poorly cast, and we apologize for the image of a very worn specimen, bu it is the best specimen we have been able to image.

F   $95.00     VF   $135.00

 

reign title: HSIEN-YUNG, AD 1065-1074

 

S-1067. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSIEN-YUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. These very somewhat in weight. Th average of what we have seen (3 specimen) is 24.3 mm and 3.53 grams, but we have seen them from 2.75 to 3.9 grams. As with most Liao coins, this tends to be a a poorly cast issue. It is also the most common coin of the Liao Dynasty.

VF   $135.00

 

reign title: TA-K’ANG, AD 1075-1084

 

S-1069. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-K’ANG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average 24 mm. These coins tend to be poorly cast.

F   $115.00

 

S-1068. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-K’ANG Y’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average 24 mm. These coins tend to be poorly cast. We have handled this type, but it was before we started recording values and do not currently have a value for it.

This appears to be the only time when two distinct types were issued during the Liang Dynasty. We note that all Liao coins previous to this reign title were caste with “T’UNG-PAO”, and all Liao coins afterwards with “Y’UNG PAO”. We assume that means that for this reign title, the T’ung-pao issues are the earlier of the two. We wonder if this might present a clue as to why many Northern Sung reign titles also occur with more than one of these (and other) variations.

 

reign title: TA-AN, AD 1085-1094

 

S-1070-71.Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-AN YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimen) 24.5 mm, 3.51 grams. There are some varieties in this type, with Schjoth noting one with a star hole, and another with a small dot in the upper left corner. We have owned a specimen with a small nail mark on the reverse. These variations would be worth a premium. These coins tend to be poorly cast with slightly irregular rims.

F   $95.00     VF   $135.00

The presence of a dot or nail mark on the reverse, or a star hole on a coin of this type is probably intentional, as similar star holes are very common on Northern Sung coins of this same period. Their meaning is as yet uncertain.

 

reign title: SHOU-CH’ANG, AD 1095-1101

 

S-1072. H 18.19. Obverse: “SHOU-CH’ANG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimen) 24.0 mm, 3.62 grams. These coins tend to be poorly cast and somewhat irregular rims, and that must be allowed for in their grading.

F   $95.00   VF   $145.00


 

Emperor T’IEN CHA
AD 1101-1125

reign title: CH’IEN-T’UNG, AD 1101-1110

S-1073. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-T’UNG Y’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average 24 mm. These coins tend to be poorly cast.

F   $95.00     VF   $135.00

 

reign title: T’IEN CH’ING, AD 1111-1120

S-1074. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN CH’ING Y’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average 24 mm. These coins tend to be poorly cast.

F   $85.00     VF   $120.00

 

This appears to be the last coin issued by the Liao Dynasty, even though the dynasty was to last for another five years after this title ended. Hartill (CAST CHINESE COINS, page 217) discusses and additional group of coins which are sometimes attributed to the Liao Dynasty, although all are rare and seldom encountered types which we have not included here.

 

WESTERN HSIA DYNASTY

This was a dynasty fo the Tangut people. Their capital was in Kansu Province, but it is not certain if their capital was in Kanchow or Soochow. In AD 1227, after breaking a promise to support Genghis Khan, this dynasty was exterminated.


 

Emperor JEN TSUNG
AD 1140-1193

reign title: T’IEN-SHENG, AD 1149-1168

 

As S-1078 but copper 1 cash. Obverse: ‘T’IEN-SHENG YUAN PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (13 specimens) 23.9 mm, 3.51 grams.

F   $12.00     VF   $25.00

 

These are always well cast coins with bold characters and seldom seen in a grade below gF. The the brass has a very distintive light-brown tone to it. Schjoth says that the copper of this type is rare and that iron is common, but we currently find the opposite to be true

 

reign title: CH’IEN-YU, AD 1169-1193

 

S-1080. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’IEN-YU YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (4 specimen) 24.8 mm, 3.82 grams.

F   $35.00     VF   $75.00

 


 

Emperor HSIANG TSUNG
AD 1206-1212

reign title: HUANG-CHIEN, AD 1210-1212

S-1081, “HUANG-CHIEN YUAN-PAO”. This is an unusual coin in that the inscription starts at the top and is read around to the right, rather then the usual top-bottom-left-right.

gVF   $145.00

 


 

Emperor SHEN TSUNG
AD 1212-1222

reign title: KUANG-TING, AD 1212-1222

 

S-1082, “KUANG-TING YUAN-PAO. This is an unusual coin in that the inscription starts at the top and is read around to the right, rather then the usual top-bottom-left-right. The specimens of this type that we have seen tend to be crudely cast from course sand molds. Average (1 specimen) 24.9 mm, 4.07 grams.

F   $75.00     VF   $110.00

 

CHIN DYNASTY, THE NU-CHENG TARTARS

Emperor WAN-YEN LIANG
AD 1149-1161

reign title: CHENG-LUNG, AD 1156-1161

 

S-1083. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHENG-LUNG YUAN-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (12 specimen) 3.83 grams. 25.1 mm.

F   $6.00     VF   $8.50     XF   $12.50

This is a fairly well cast coinage, with consistently clear characters and very well formed rims. We have found that the size and weights have very little variation within most specimens.


 

Emperor SHIH TSUNG
AD 1161-1189

 

reign title: TA TING, AD 1161-1189

 

S-1085-1086. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (7 specimens) 25.4 mm, 4.14 grams.

F   $6.00     VF   $8.50    XF   $12.50

 

  S-1087. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthdox script. Reverse: “SHEN” at top indicating this type was struck in AD 1188. Average (2 specimen) 3.29 grams. 24.4 mm.

F   $20.00     VF   $35.00     XF   $55.00

 


IMAGE NOT
YET AVAILABLE

S-1088. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthdox script. Reverse: “SHEN” at bottom indicating this type was struck in AD 1188. Average (1 specimen) 2.95 grams. 24.5 mm.

F   $20.00     VF   $35.00     XF   $55.00

 

  S-1089. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthdox script. Reverse: “YU” at top indicating this type was struck in AD 1189. Average (4 specimen) 3.37 grams. 25.6 mm.

F   $22.50     VF   $39.50     XF   $60.00

We recently handled a specimen of this type that was only 2.25 mm and 2.3 grams. The patination and casting showed that the coin is genuine from the time, but we suspect it is a contemporary (of the time) counterfeit.

 


IMAGE NOT
YET AVAILABLE

S-1090. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthdox script. Reverse: “YU” at bottom indicating this type was struck in AD 1189. Average (1 specimen) 3.50 grams. 25.4 mm.

F   $20.00     VF   $35.00     XF   $55.00

 


IMAGE NOT
YET AVAILABLE

S-1091. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Schjoth had such a specimen, but we doubt that it was authentic. At 2.75 grams is was light for coins of the period.

 


IMAGE NOT
YET AVAILABLE

S-1092. Iron 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-TING T’UNG-PAO” in orthdox script. Reverse: blank. Schjoth had such a specimen, which weighed 3.41 grams. We cannot confirm if the type actually exists or not, but if it does it has to be very rare and we cannot establish a value at this time.

 

Emperor CHANG TSUNG
AD 1190-1208

reign title: T’AI-HO, AD 1201-1208

 

S-1093-94. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-HO CHUNG-PAO” in seal script. Reverse: blank. The two different Schjoth numbers are for narrow (1093) and wide (1094) rims, with the wide rim variation being the scarcer. We have seen narrow rim examples from 16.29 to 24.3 grams with the average of 3 specimens was 19.91 grams, 44.5 mm. The single wide rim example we saw was 27.75 grams, 47.6 mm.

Narrow -VF   $80.00     XF   $120.00
Wide – VF   $125.00     XF   $175.00

 

Schjoth records four specimens of this series, two with blank reverses averaged 16.35 grams, one with Ch’uan Huo on the reverse at 17.24 grams, and one that is most probably a later amulet, with the obverse repeated on the reverse at 32.92 grams. Because of the very high relief of this issue, they are never seen below a grade of VF, and are always very well made coins.

 

YUAN (MONGOL) DYNASTY

Emperor CH’ENG TSUNG
AD 1295-1306

reign title: YUAN-CHEN, AD 1295-1296

 

FD-1711. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUAN-CHEN T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimen) 24.2 mm, 3.08 grams.

VF   $650.00

 

There is some question in our mind about the authenticity of the specimen illustrated above. We would appreciate hearing form anyone that can give a reasonable informed opinion on it.


 

Emperor WU TSUNG
AD 1308-1311

reign title: CHIH-TA, AD 1308-1311

   

S-1098
Orthodox Script

S-1099
Mongolian Seal script

 

S-1098. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-TA T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox script. Reverse: blank. The size and weigh of this issues seems to vary somewhat. The last two specimens we had access two were 24.5 mm at 3.1 grams and 23.5 mm at 2.85 grams.

VG   $3.00     F   $5.00

 

S-1099, Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “TA-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” in Mongol seal-writing. Reverse: blank. Average (5 specimens) 42.3 mm, 20.5 grams. These are said to have been first cast in the third year of Chih-Ta (AD 1310). These tend to be crudely cast, often with casting holes in the fields, and attractive specimens are scarce and command a premium.

F   $32.00     VF   $45.00

 

Paper money was used extensively during this period, although to the best of my knowledge only two examples of Yuan Dynasty paper money are know to still exist today.


 

Emperor HEN TSUNG
AD 1312-1320

reign title: HUANG-CH’ING, AD 1312-1313

S-1102, “CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in Mongol seal-writing. Value 2. RARE. The only specimen was have handled was VG with the top character weakly cast.

VG   $225.00

 


Emperor SHUN TI
AD 1333-1367

Shun Ti’s coins of the first two years of his reign (AD 1333 to 1334) do not have a reign title on them, but rather come YUAN TONG YUAN BAO inscription in Chinese characters.

 

reign title: CHIH-YUAN, AD 1335-1340

Shun Ti adopted the title CHIH-YUAN in AD 1335 and used it until 1340. The coin of this period are rare, and we do not have one yet available to image.

 

S-1102. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-YUAN T’UNG-PAO” in Mongolian square script. Reverse: blank. Schjoth specimen was about 28 mm, 5.08 grams.

VG   $225.00

 

reign title: CHIH-CHENG, AD 1341-1367

 

IMAGE NOT YET AVAILABLE

S-1103
Orthodox Script

S-1102
Mongolian Seal script

Shun Ti adopted the title CHIH-CHENG in AD 1341 and used it until he died in 1367. This is an interesting series, in that many of the coins have date and/or denomination indicators on them.

 

S-1103. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: “MAO” in Mongol seal script. MAO is short for HSIN MAO, indicating this coin was struck in AD 1351. The date indicator on the reverse is normally somewhat weak on these. Average (2 specimens) 25 mm, 3.55 grams.

F   $65.00     VF   $85.00

 

  S-1109. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: The number “2” written in Mongolian script above the hole, and in chinese numbers below the hole. Average (2 specimen) 28.9 mm, 6.2 grams (range 5.04 to 7.15 grams)

F   $65.00     VF   $100.00

 

S-1107. Bronze 3 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: “SSU” in Mongol seal script. SSU is short for Kuei Ssu indicating this coin was struck in AD 1353. Average (2 specimens) 30.1 mm, 8.5 grams.

F   $75.00     VF   $100.00

 

  S-1108. Bronze 3 cash. Obverse: “CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: “SHEN” in Mongol seal script. SHEN is short for PING SHEN indicating this coin was struck in AD 1356. Average (1 specimens) 34.0 mm, 11.22 grams.

F   $75.00     VF   $115.00     XF   $195.00

 

  S-1110. Bronze 3 cash. Obverse: CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: The number “3” written in Mongolian script above the hole, and in chinese numbers below the hole. Average (2 specimen) 35.5 mm, 11.55 (range 9.85 to 12.24 grams)

F   $75.00     VF   $110.00

 

S-1111. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “”CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: the denomination indicator as the Mongol seal script word for “10” above the hole. Average (two specimens) 45 mm, 22.9 grams.

F   $75.00     VF   $110.00

 


FULL IMAGE

FD-1810. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “”CHIH-CHENG T’UNG-PAO” in orthodox Chinese script. Reverse: the denomination indicator as the Mongol square script word for “10” above the hole, and the Chinese number “10” with a dot above it, below the hole. Average (1 specimen) 48 mm, 63.6 grams. The casting on this particular coin is rather crude with only partially finished rims. The specimen illustrated while grading only F for visual appearance is pretty much as cast with full original file marks on the high points.

F   $450.00

 

This type tends to be bold and well cast with high rims,
but the edges tend to be poorly finished.

 

YUAN REBELS

Pretender Emperor CH’EN YU-LIANG OF HAN
AD 1358-1363

reign title: T’ien-ting, ca. AD 1363

 

S-1124, Bronze 3 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN TING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 32.5 mm, 8.89 grams.

F   $175.00     VF   $245.00

 

CHU YUAN-CHANG as the REBEL PRINCE WU
AD 1364-1367

Chu Yuan-Chang (later to become Emperor Tai Tsu, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (see below)) was one of the Yuan Rebels fighting each other to see who would take control of China at the eventual fall of the Yuan Dynasty. His coins of this period bare the inscription TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO but TA-CHUNG is not actually a reign title.

I have run into some confusion over the Ta-Chung coinage, because Schjoth states that the inscription was first cast by Chu Yuan-Chang in AD 1361 when the Pao-Yuan Minting Department was set up at Nanking, however as he did not declare himself as Prince Wu until 1364, this draw into question exactly who he was minting them for between 1361 and 1364. Apparently only the 1 cash denomination was cast during this period.

In 1364, after defeating Ch’en Yu-liang of Han (another of the Yuan Rebels), and gaining control over a much larger part of China, Chu Yuan-chang declared himself the Prince Wu and adopted the reign title of Ta-ming but rather than putting the Ta-ming title on the coins he continued casting the Ta-Chung types, but now from a number of mints. In 1368 he controled enough of China to Declare himself as Emperor T’ai Tsu of the Ming Dynasty, at which time he adopted the reign title Hung-Wu.

The Ta-chung coinage tends to be somewhat crudely cast when compared to the later coins cast under the Ming Dynasty.

 

S-1127. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (5 specimens) 23.5 mm (range 23.2 to 24.0 mm), average 3.30 grams. These coins tend to be of inferior quality to the later coinage of Ming.

VG   $4.50     F   $8.50     VF   $15.00

S-1128. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “PEI-P’ING” (a mint in Chihli). Average (1 specimen) 23.5 mm, 3.44 grams. We do not have a record of a price for this type at this time.

S-1129. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “CHE” (Chekiang mint). Average (1 specimen) 23.5 mm, 2.53 grams. We do not have a record of a price for this type at this time.

 

S-1130. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimens) 29 mm, 6.11 grams.

VF   $35.00

 

S-1131. Bronze 3 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimens) 35 mm, 10.10 grams.

VF   $49.50

 

S-1132. Bronze 5 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimens) 41 mm, 17.49 grams.

VF   $42.50

 

S-1133. Bronze 5 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “YU” (Honan mint). Average (1 specimens) 40 mm, 15.41 grams.

VF   $145.00

 

  S-1134. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “SHIH” (for value 10). Average (2 specimens) 45.5 mm, 23.8 grams (these vary several grams either side of this).

VG   $65.00     F   $99.50

 

S-1135. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “SHIH CHE” (for value 10 of Chekiang mint). Average (1 specimens) 45.5 mm, 25.69 grams. We have not yet recorded a value for this type.

 

S-1136. Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “TA-CHUNG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “SHIH CHI” (for value 10 of Shantung mint)). Average (1 specimens) 45.5 mm, 27.09 grams. We have not yet recorded a value for this type.

 

MING DYNASTY

After 88 years of rule by the Mongols of the Yuan dynasty, the Chinese people finally regained control in AD 1368. The Ming dynasty is noted for a high degree of culture with a strong literature, and for the fine porcelain they produced.

There were a total of 17 emperors during the Ming dynasty. Most of them cast coins, but some of them are very rare. In spite of this being one of the more recent dynasties, the exact attribution of some of the rarer Ming coins is still in question.


 

Emperor T’AI TSU
AD 1368-1398

As discussed above, T’ai Tsu began his rise to power as Chu Yuan-chang Prince of Wu, one of the Yuan Rebels. Most references include issues of that period as Ming Coins, although that is not technically correct andwe have chosen to incude them under the heading of Yuan Rebels.

 

reign title: HUNG-WU, AD 1368-1398

 

The Hung-wu reign title was adopted after the fall of the Yuan and the defeat of the other Yuan Rebels, thus this is the first true reign title of the Ming Dynasty.

 

S-1137. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUNG-WU T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (18 specimens) 23.8 mm, 3.50 grams (the weight vary considerable and we have records of specimens from 2.2 to 4.1 grams)

F   $2.50     VF   $4.50     XF   $7.50

The Hung-Wu 1 cash also is found with a number of different reverse symbols and mint marks, of which we have so far noted the following all have the standard Hung-Wu Obverse:

IMAGE

DESCRIPTION

VALUE

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1138. Reverse: crescent at right

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1139. Reverse: crescent at bottom right

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1140. Reverse: crescent at left

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1141. Reverse: crescent at bottom slightly left

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1142. Reverse: YI-CH’IEN (1 cash) to the right

VG $2.50
  F $4.50
XF $8.50

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1143. Reverse: PEI-P’ING (Pei-p’ing Fu in Chihli)

VG $2.50
  F $4.50
XF $8.50

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S=1144. Reverse: YU (in Honan)

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1145, 1146. Reverse: CHE at top (Chekiang mint mark).
One example with star hole.

  F  $5.00
VF  $8.00
XF $10.00

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1147. Reverse: CHE at top (Chekiang mint),
with a crescent at lower right.

  F  $5.00
VF  $8.00
XF $10.00

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1148. Reverse: FU at bottom (Fukien mint).

  F  $5.00
VF  $8.00
XF $10.00

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1149. Reverse: FU at right (Fukien mint).

  F  $5.00
VF  $8.00
XF $10.00

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1150. Reverse: KUEI at right
(Kuei-lin mint in Kuangsi mint).

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1151. Reverse: CHIH?? (reading uncertain).

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

NOT YET
AVAILABLE

S-1152-3. Reverse: A symbol possibly representing a priest hat (Hung-wu had been a Buddhist priest prior to becoming Emperor).

VALUE NOT YET DETERMINED

 

S-1154 variety. Bronze 2 cash. Obverse: “HUNG-WU T’UNG-PAO”.
Reverse: “ERH CH’IEN”. 31 mm.

F   $25.00     VF   $40.00

 


FULL IMAGE

S-1158. Bronze 10 cash (or 1 tael). Obverse: “HUNG-WU T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: “SHIH” (10) at the top and “YI-LIANG” (1 tael) to the right. Average (2 specimens) 48 mm, 34.8 grams.

F   $60.00     VF   $85.00

 


 

Emperor CH’ENG TSU
AD 1403-1424

reign title: YUNG-LO, AD 1403-1424

 

S-1166. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUNG-LO T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (33 specimens) 25 mm, 3.75 grams.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.50

 


 

Emperor HSUAN TSUNG
AD 1426-1435

reign title: HSUAN-TE, AD 1426-1435

S-1170. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HSUAN-TE T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (based on 2 specimens) 25 mm, 3.75 grams.

F   $10.00     VF   $16.50

 


 

Emperor HSIAO TSUNG
AD 1488-1505

reign title: HUNG-CHIH, AD 1488-1505

S-1176. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUNG-CHIH T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 24.0 mm, 3.85 grams (range 3.25 to 4.45 grams).

VG   $3.50     F   $6.00     VF   $9.50

 


 

Emperor SHIH TSUNG
AD 1522-1566

reign title: CHIA CHING, AD 1522-1566

 

S-1181. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CHIA-CHING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 24.2 mm, 3.74 grams.

VG   $4.00     F   $7.50     VF   $12.00

 

This type is reported to have been cast in very large numbers in AD 1527 (6th year of Chia Ching). Schjoth (page 48) notes that in AD AD 1553 (32nd year of Chia Ching) there was another large issue of coins, but using the 9 earlier Ming reign titles following Hung-wu. It is very possible some of those reign titles were only cast at this time.


 

Emperor MU TSUNG
AD 1567-1572

reign title: LUNG-CH’ING, AD 1567-1672

 

S-1183. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “LUNG-CH’ING T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 25 mm, 3.31 grams (range 2.88 to 3.75 grams).

F   $60.00     VF   $90.00

 

Schjoth (page 48) reports that this type was cast in the year AD 1570.


 

Emperor SHEN TSUNG
AD 1573-1619

reign title: WAN-LI, AD 1573-1619

 

S-1185. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “WAN-LI T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank, probably indicating this is an early issue of either Board of Revenue or Board of Works mint.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00     XF   $7.00

 

An interesting feature sometimes seen on the coins of Wan-Li are chop marks (small merchants counter marks) applied on the rims of the coins. These do increase the value of the coins, but the exact amount of the increase depends on the number, and clarity of the marks. We have provided this link to an image of a typical specimen illustrating these chop marks.


 

Emperor KUANG TSUNG
AD 1620

reign title: T’AI-CH’ANG, AD 1620

 

S-1199, Bronze 1 cash. “T’AI-CH’ANG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (3 specimens) 25.2 mm, 3.50 grams. The weights on these vary considerably. Of the three specimens I have weights on, the range is from 2.88 to 4.20 grams.

F   $15.00     VF   $25.00     XF   $35.00

 

S-1200, Bronze 1 cash. “T’AI-CH’ANG T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: Dot above centre hole.

F   $15.00     VF   $25.00     XF   $35.00

 

Kuang Tsung ruled for only one month and very few coins would have been issued during that time. Most specimens of this type were issued by his successor Hsi Tsung in 1621 in his memory. We are not yet sure if the two types, with and without the dot above the hole on the reverse, indicate the two mints of Board of Works and Board of Revenue mints (is so, we do know know which is which), or if they might differentiate between the life-time and non-lifetime issues.


 

Emperor HSI TSUNG
AD 1621-1627

reign title: T’IEN-CH’I, AD 1621-1627

 

image not yet available

S-1223
T’ai-Ch’ang T”ung-Pao

S-1201
T’ai-Ch’ang T’ien-Ch’i

 

S-1201, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-CH’ANG T’IEN-CH’I”. Reverse: Dot above center hole. This type is very rare, and we have never actually seen one, so cannot estimate a value. This is an interesting type, issued to honor the previous ruler who died after only one month on the throne, and may be the only Chinese cash coin to bare two reign titles on the same coin.

 

NO MINT MARK

S-1202, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-CH’I T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. There are a number of variations on this type with dots in various positions on the reverse. The meaning of these dots is not known.

F   $3.50     VF   $7.50     XF   $12.00

 

YUNNAN MINT

S-1214, bronze 1 cash. “T’IEN-CH’I T’UNG-PAO, Reverse: “YUN”.

F   $12.00     VF   $18.00

 

HIGH DENOMINATION TYPES

  S-1221, Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-CH’I T’UNG-PAO”, Reverse: “SHIH” (10) at the top (without dot at bottom). Average (1 specimens) 45.0 mm, 24.55 grams.

F   $25.00     VF   $40.00     XF   $55.00

 

  S-1222, Bronze 10 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-CH’I T’UNG-PAO”, Reverse: “SHIH” (10) at the top, DOT at bottom next to the rim. Average (2 specimens) 47.0 mm, 22.60 grams.

F   $25.00     VF   $40.00     XF   $55.00

 

  S-1223. Bronze 10 Cash or 1 Liang. Obverse: T’IEN-CH’I T’UNG-PAO. Reverse: “SHIH” (10) at the top, and “YI-LIANG” (1 Liang) to the right. These seem to come on two sizes, with the smaller average (3 specimens) 40.7 mm, 31.85 grams, and the larger with wider rims average (3 specimen) 47.2 mm, 34.53 grams.

small – F   $25.00     VF   $40.00

large – F   $35.00     VF   $55.00

 

  S-1224. Bronze 10 Cash or 1 Liang. Obverse: T’IEN-CH’I T’UNG-PAO. Reverse: “FU” for Hsuan-ch’eng ming in An-hui. Average (1 specimens) 47.0 mm, 26.33 grams.

small – F   $75.00     VF   $115.00

 


 

Emperor CHUANG LIEH
AD 1628-1644

reign title: CH’UNG CHEN, 1628-1644

NO MINT MARK

 

S-1226-1229, bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “CH’UNG-CHEN T’UNG-PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (1 specimen) 24.9 mm, 3.30 grams.

F   $3.00     VF   $5.50     XF   $9.00

 

There are many variations of this type, with different dot placements, or different characters on the reverse. We will make not of them as we have a chance. For the variations, the weights and sizes are the same as the main type unless otherwise noted.

 

S-1231-1232. Reverse dot at top. Average (2 specimen) 25.7 mm, 3.97 grams.

F   $5.00     VF   $9.50     XF   $15.00

 

MING REBELS

In AD 1644 the Chinese were once again conquered by foreigners as the Manchurians took control of much of China to establish the Ch’ing Dynasty, but reaching that point was a long drawn out process, starting about 70 years earlier and they did not gain full control for another 40 years. This was a period of turmoil during which a series of pretenders and rebels controlling small (some sometimes not so small) regions fought a series wars and rebellions at first against the Ming, later against the Ch’ing, and sometimes between each other. These people are referred to as the Ming Rebels and it is a fairly complex period in Chinese history.

The order in which Schjoth lists these rules does not give a sense of this history, and I am working on sorting out presentation that hopefully will do so, but I am not there yet. This is a section I am just now beginning to again work on, so hopefully there will be a better presentation here soon.


 

LI TZU-CH’ENG, AD 1644

Reign title: LI-YUNG, AD 1674-1677

 

Li Tzu-ch’eng was the son of a village leader in Shansi. After a period of famine and high taxation, Li and his followers revolted. The end of the Ming dynasty came in 1644 when Li succeeded in taking Peking. He assumed the reign title Yung-Ch’ang and declared himself emperor, upon which Chuang Lieh, the last Ming emperor, committed suicide.

 

S-1325, Bronze 5 cash. Obverse: “YUNG CH’ANG T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 37.8 mm, and (range 13.73 to 15.30 grams. In high grades, these coins will show heavy original parallel files marks.

VF   $55.00

 


 

CHU YU-SUNG, PRINCE OF FU
AD 1644-1646

Reign title: Hung-Kuang, AD 1644-1446

 

Chu Yu-Sung, as Prince of Fu, was the grand son of Shen Tsung (the Ming Emperor Wan Li). In the third month of 1644 he became Prince of Nanking, declared himself Emperor and issued coins under the Reign title of Hung-Kuang.

 

S-1287, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUNG-KUANG T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: Blank. Average (1 specimens) 24.1 mm, 3.44 grams.

F   $12.50     VF   $18.00

 

S-1288, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “HUNG-KUANG T’UNG PAO”. Reverse: Dot at top. Average (2 specimens) 24.1 mm, 3.6 grams (range 3.02 to 4.17 grams).

F   $10.00     VF   $15.00

 


 

PRINCE YUNG-MING
AD 1646-1659

Reign title: Yung-Li, AD 1646-1459

IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE YET

IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE YET

 

S-1315
Seal Script

S-1316
Grass Script

S-1296
Orthodox Script

Chu Yu-lang, Prince Yung Ming, was a grandson of Shen Tsung (the Ming Emperor Wan Li). In the 11th month of 1646 he was declared Emperor and set up his capital in Chao-ch’ing Fu in Kuangtung, and issued coins under the Reign title of Yung-li. In 1659 he was defeated by the Manchu (Ching Dynasty) army and when to Burma. Later he return of Yunnan province where he died in 1662. Both he and his mother became Christians.

 

S-1296, Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: “YUNG-LI T’UNG PAO” in orthodox. Reverse: Blank. Average (3 specimens) 24.5 mm, 3.02 grams.

VG   $3.00     F   $5.00     VF   $7.50

 

  S-1307. Iron 1 cash.

 

 

THE CH’ING DYNASTY

 

 

This is a reference guide only for Chinese coins issued by the Ch’ing Dynasty, not an offering of coins for sale. A listing of the ancient and medieval Chinese coins we currently have available can be viewed on Driwancybermuseum. At this time, this page is far from complete with many even common mint marks missing, but it will help you identify all of the rules and many of the mint marks.

 

Images on this page represent types only, and bear no relationship to actual sizes. When two or more reign titles used the same mint mark, we normally use the same image of of the mint mark for all of them, which speeds up download times, but means that some of the mint marks on the actual coins will have stylistic differences from the images used.

During the mid 1500’s the Manchurians rebelled against the Ming Dynasty, and in AD 1559 Nurhachu (also know as T’ai Tsu) established a small Manchu dynasty. By 1625 Nurhachu has gained enough territory to need a capital, which he established at Mukden, but he died only a year later which brought his son Abahay (also known as T’ai Tsung) to the throne. Abahay changed the Dynastic name to Ch’ing in 1638 and on his death in 1644 his nine year old son Shih Tsu (know as Shun Chih) came to the throne. By then the Ch’ing controlled large parts of China, although they did not control the entire country until they defeated the last “Ming Rebels” about 1681. Most references date the start of the Ch’ing dynasty to AD 1644, but that is a very artificial concept, and you would replace the start any time between 1559 and 1681.

The Ch’ing Dynasty was a period of enlightenment, with the arts and literature reaching a high point under the Emperorss K’ang Hsi and Ch’ien Lung. This was also a period of increased interaction with the Western powers who, while gaining significant influence in China, failed in their efforts to colonize China.

The coinage of Ch’ing is fairly straightforward, and with one exception the Ch’ing Emperors used only one reign title each on their coins, which is why they are better known by their reign titles than their real names.

The The obverses of the coins conform to a fairly standard types with an obverse listing the reign title along with the words “T’UNG PAO” (money) in Chinese characters. The reverses vary over time. Under Shun Chih (1644 to 1662) the mint marks on the reverse are normally a single character in Manchu script, although at the end of his reign we some coins issued with “BOO” (meaning mint) and mint name, both in Manchu script. Under K’ang Hsi most reverse types have the mint mark twice, on the left in Manchu script and on the right in Chinese characters, although for the two principle mints in Bejing continued the “BOO” and mint name in Manchu. Most coins after K’ang Hsi, use the “BOO” and mint name in Manchu reverse type, with some later issues having extra characters in Chinese to denote additional information (denominations or dating).

To aid people trying using this page to identify an unknown coin, the following table shows all of the major obverse types, which you can click on to go directly to the section discussing that reign title.

 

     
     
     
       

 

Note that for the Hsien Feng issue (row 3, column 2) there are other characters that can occur on the right side.

Emperor NURHACHU (T’AI TSU)
1559-1626

Reign title: T’ien Ming, AD 1616-1626

S-1356. Bronze 1 cash.
Obverse: “T’IEN-MING T’UNG-PAO” in Chinese orthodox script. Reverse: blank.

VG   $95.00

 

S-1355. Bronze 2 (?) cash. Obverse: “ABKAI FULINGGA HAN JIHA” in what was at that tiime a nealy invented version of Manchurian script (Manchurian for “Imperial coin of the Heavenly Mandate”. Reverse: blank. Average (2 specimens) 29 mm, 7.5 grams. These vary in weight quite a bit and are fairly crudely cast with poorly finished or unfinished rims and course unfinished surfaces.

F   $45.00     VF   $60.00     gVF   $75.00

 

This issue was first cast in about 1616 under Nurhachu, but continued to be cast throughout the reign of Abahay. The large size and heavy weight suggest this was intended to be of value 2 cash.

Emperor SHIH TSU
AD 1644-1661

reign title: SHUN CHIH, AD 1644-1661

 

FIRST SERIES (probably ca AD 1644). The reverse is blank.

S-1359, Reverse: blank.     F   $3.50     VF   $6.00

 

SECOND SERIES (AD 1644-1652). The reverse has only the mint in Chinese only. The character can occur either at the top or on the right side.

 

S-1363, “HO” (Honan mint) at the top.     F   $15.00     VF   $25.00

 

  S-1370, “YUAN” at right (T’ai Yuan Fu in Shansi).

F   $14.50     VF   $20.00

 

S-1377, “NING” (Ningpo mint).     F   $18.50     VF   $37.50

 

S-1378, “CHE” (Chekiang mint) at the right.     F   $15.00     VF   $22.50

 

S-1379, “CHE” (Chekiang mint) at the top.     F   $15.00     VF   $25.00

 

  S-1382, “FU” at top (Fukien mint).

F   $17.50     VF   $35.00

 

THIRD SERIES (AD 1653-?). The reverse has the mint name on the right, with “YI LI” (meaning 1 thousandth part of an ounce (tael) of silver) on the left.

 

S-1392, “CHIANG” (Chiang-ning mint).     F   $15.00     VF   $25.00

 

S-1395, “TUNG” (Shantung mint).     F   $12.50     VF   $17.50

 

S-1399, “CHI” (Chi-chou in Chihli).     F   $25.00     VF   $49.50

 

S-1401, “CH’ANG” (Wuch’ang mint).     F   $14.50     VF   $29.50

 

S-1403, “NING” (Ningpo mint).     F   $18.50     VF   $39.50

  S-1404, “Yun” at right (Mi-Yun in Chihli), “Yi Li” at left.

F   $8.50     VF   $12.50

 

FOURTH SERIES (AD ?-1661): Mint name on the reverse, in Manchurian on the left and in Chinese on the right. The coins of the board of Revenue and board of Works mints, with “BOO” on the left and the mint name in Manchurian on the right, should also be included in this series, rather than as an issue of AD 1644 as suggested by Schjoth. This allows for a smooth transition with the coinage of K’ang-hsi and, not to put them here would require both of the principal mints to have been shut down during the last years of this reign.

  S-1405, “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.50

 

  S-1406, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The Manchurian mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.50

 

  S-1407, “CHIANG” (Chiang-ning which is the city of Nanking). The Manchurian mint name translates as Giyang.

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1408, “CHE” (Chekiang mint).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1409, “TUNG” (Shantung mint).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1410, “LIN” (Lin-ching circuit in Shantung).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1411, “YUNG” (T’ai yuan Fu in Shansi).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1412, “HSUAN” (Hsuan-Fu in Chihli).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1413, “CHI” (Chi-chou district in Chihli).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1414, “HO” (Honan mint).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1415, “CHANG” (Wu-ch’ang in Hupei).

I have not yet established a price for this type.

 

  S-1416, “SHEN” (Shensi mint).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1417, “NING” (Ningpo mint).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

 

  S-1418, “T’UNG” (Ta-t’ung in Shansi).

F   $3.00     VF   $4.50

Emperor SHENG TSU
AD 1662-1722

reign title: K’ANG-HSI, AD 1662-1722

 

The coinage of K’ang-Hsi is a direct continuation of the last issue of Shun-chih.

 

PRIMARY SERIES (AD 1662-1722): The two principal mints in Peking have have “BOO” on the left, and the mint name on the right, both in Manchu script. All other mints have the mint name twice, in Manchu on the left and Chinese on the right. The size of these coins vary significantly from coin to coin. Please note that we are currently up grading this section, and for those coins for which we indicated “value not yet determined”, they are not necessarily scarce and we will be adding the values in the not too distant future (a few of them are rare).

 

  S-1419, “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1422, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1423, “T’UNG” (Ta-T’ung mint in Shansi).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1424, “FU” (Fukien mint). “FU” Means “LUCK” which makes this a very popular type.

F   $3.00     VF   $5.00

 

  S-1425, “LIN LIN” (Lin-ching circuit in Shantung).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1426, “TUNG” (Shantung mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1427, “CHIANG” (Chiang-ning mint at Nanking)

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1428, “HSUAN” (Hsuan-fu in Chihli)

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1429, “YUAN” (T’ai-yuan Fu in Shansi).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1430, “SU” (Soochow in Kiangsu).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1431, “CHI” (Chi-Chow in Chihli).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1432, “CH’ANG” (Wu-ch’ang in Hupei).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1433, “NING” (Ningpo in Chekiang).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1434, “HO” (Honan mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1435, “NAN” (Hunan mint).

    RARE, Value not yet determined.

 

  S-1436, “KUANG” (Kuangtung mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1437, “CHE” (Chekiang mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1438, “T’AI” (Taiwan mint).

F   $100.00     VF   $200.00

 

  S-1439, “KUEI” (Kueilin in Kuangsu).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1440, “SHEN” (Shensi mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1441, “YUN” (Yunnan mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1442, “CHANG” (Chang-chou in Fukien).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

SECONDARY SERIES OF AD 1713: These coins, which are commonly called “Lohan Coins” differ in the way the bottom characher “K’ang” is drawn without the upright at the left. A myth about this variety claims they were cast from gilt bronze statues of Lohan’s (attendants to Buddha), so each coin contains a trace of gold. No testing has found even a trace of gold in these, and there is nothing to support belief in this myth, which appears to originate in the mid-19th century. Burger, in his study of Ch’ing Dynasty cash, made a case for these coins being a special issue of AD 1713, to celebrate K’ang Hsi’s 60th birthday.

Hartill lists these coins as having a rarity rating of 14, which means very common and somewhere in the $5.00 range. In my experience they are significantly scarcer than he suggests, and should in the $15 to $20 range. Schjoth lists these from three mints : Board of Revenue (see S-1419), Honan mint (see S-1434) and Hunan mint (see S-1435), although in the case of Honan and Hunan the mint marks are drawn slightly differently. When they become available we will add images of them.

Emperor SHIH TSUNG
AD 1723-1735

reign title: YUNG-CHENG, AD 1723-1735

 

From the reign of Yung-cheng, to the end of the Ch’ing dynasty, almost all of the coins conform to the standard types, with “BOO” in the reverse to the left, and the mint name in Manchurian script to the right. Mint names no longer appear in Chinese script.

  S-1453, “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

  S-1454, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

  S-1455, “BOO JE” (Chekiang mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-Che.

F   $2.50     VF   $4.00

 

  S-1456, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint). The Manchurian mint name translates to Pao-yun.

F   $4.00     VF   $6.00

 

  S-1457, “BOO SU” (Kiangsu Provincial mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Su.

F   $4.00     VF   $6.00

 

  S-1458, “BOO AN” (Anhui mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-An.

F   $6.00     VF   $8.00

 

FD-2280, “BOO-U” (Hubeh mint).     VF   $29.50

 

FD-2282, “BOO-HO (Hunan mint).     gF   $25.00

 

FD-2291, “BOO-JI (Shantung mint).     VF   $25.00

 

FD-2292, “BOO-JIN (Shansi mint), heavy original file marks (as made).     VF   $28.00

Emperor KAO TSUNG
AD 1736-1795

reign title: CH’IEN-LUNG, AD 1736-1795

 

   

CH’IEN-LUNG

SHAN-LUNG

 

Ch’ien-lung is thought of as one of the most brilliant rulers in Chinese history. He was a patron of the arts, which reached a very high level during his reign. His is also one of the few Chinese emperors to abdicate the throne, which he did to honor K’ang Hsi (his father) by ending his reign just before it would have exceeded the length of K’ang Hsi’s reign.

There are two basic series to the coins of Ch’ien-lung. The primary series has the regular Ch’ien-lung inscription, produced at many mints throughout his reign. The second type is referred to as the Shan-lung commemorative issue, with two upright strokes added to the bottom of the character “Lung”, and is thought to have been issued during the period from his abdication in 1795 to his death in 1799. (Can anyone confirm this for me?)

 

PRIMARY SERIES

  S-1464, “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint in Bejing). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $2.50

 

  S-1466, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint in Bejing). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $2.50

 

  S-1467, “BOO CHI” (Chi-chou in Chihli). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-chi.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

S-1469, “BOO FU” (Fukien mint).     F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

  S-1470, “BOO JE” (Chekiang mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Che.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1471, “BOO SU” (Kiangsu Provincial mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Su.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

S-1477, “BOO GUANG” (Kuangtung mint).     F   $2.50     VF   $3.50

 

  S-1478, “BOO CHIE” (Fukien Province)

F   $2.50     VF   $3.50

 

  S-1480, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yun.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

SHAN LUNG SERIES

 

Note the two small upright lines at the bottom of the bottom character. These Shan Lung coins were mostly issued after his abdication in 1796, but Hartill records it was used as early as 1770 at some mints in Sinkiang Province.

 

  S-1463, Obverse: Shan-Lung. Reverse: “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $3.50     VF   $6.00

 

  Hartill-22.433. Obverse: Shan-Lung. Reverse: “USHI USHI” (Ushi mint in Sinkiang). The name is written in Manchurian on the left, and Arabic on the right. Average (5 specimens) 24.9 mm, 4.17 grams.

F   $10.00     VF   $15.00

Emperor JEN TSUNG
AD 1796-1820

Reign title: CHAI-CH’ING, AD 1796-1820

 

  S-1489 (but no star), “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1490, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1492, “BOO SU” (Kiangsu Provincial mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Su.

F   $2.00     VF   $4.00

 

  S-1495, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint). The Manchurian mint name translates to Pao-yun.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1500, “BOO FU” (Fukien mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Fu as well.

F   $2.00     VF   $2.75

 

  S-1501, “BOO CHI” (Chi-chou in Chihli). The Manchurian mint name translates to Pao-chi.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1503, “BOO JE” (Chekiang mint). The manchurian mint name translates to Pao-Che.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

Emperor HSUAN TSUNG
AD 1821-1850

Reign title: TAO-KUANG, AD 1821-1850

 

  S-1512, “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $2.50

 

  S-1513, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $2.00     VF   $2.50

 

  S-1514, “BOO CHI” (Chi-chou in Chihli). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-chi.

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

  S-1515, “BOO SU” (Kiangsu Provincial mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Su.

F   $2.50     VF   $5.00

 

S-1517, “BOO CH’ANG” (Nan-chang mint in Kiangsi).     VF   $2.75

 

  S-1522,”BOO Kuang” (Kuangtung mint).

F   $2.00     VF   $3.00

 

S-1525, “BOO T’UNG” (Probably Tung Ch’uan in Yunnan, not Ta-tung in Shansi as Schjoth lists).     F   $2.00

 

C-26-3, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint).     F   $2.00

 

C-30-8, 10 Cash (same size as a 1 cash) of Aksu mint in Sinkiang province. The year mark 8 refers to 1828, when a revolt was suppressed in Sinkiang. Krause notes that there are modern counterfeits of this item.

VG   $2.75

Emperor WEN TSUNG
AD 1851-1861

The Hsien Feng period was one of great strife in China. The Tai-ping rebellion, which lasted from 1853 to 1864 and was at least partly responsible for inflation resulting in paper money being issued for larger denomination (1000 and higher), and a variety of cast coin denominations from 1 to 1000 cash. The one cash coins have the standard two character mint marks on the reverses, while higher denominations have four characters with the extra two to show the denomination. There was also a system of obverse variations as shown below :

 

Reign title: HSIEN FENG, AD 1851-1861

     

OBVERSE MOSTLY ON
1 TO 5 CASH

OBVERSE MOSTLY ON
8 TO 100 CASH

OBVERSE MOSTLY ON
100 AND 1000 CASH

 

VALUE 1 CASH

  S-1534, “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

  S-1535, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

  S-1536, “BOO SU” (Kiangsu Provincial mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Su.

F   $4.50     VF   $7.50

 

  S-1538, “BOO JE” (Chekiang mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Che.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

  S-1544, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yun.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

Y-28.4. Ili mint in Sinkiang province……..RARE.     poorly cast, G   $25.00

 

MULTIPLE CASH DENOMINATIONS

 

       

2 CASH

4 CASH

5 CASH

8 CASH

 

       

10 CASH

20 CASH

30 CASH

40 CASH

 

       

50 CASH

80 CASH

100 CASH

200 CASH

 

 
     

300 CASH

500 CASH

1000 CASH

 

There are to many combinations of mint marks, demonminations, sizes, etc, to even begin to include them all on this site, so we have only provided the selection above to show how the denominations are indicated via the top and bottom character on the reverse. THIS SECTION IS JUST BEING BUILT SO NOT ALL OF THE DENOMINATIONS ARE YET SHOWN. Extensive listings of this series can be round in the Krause Standard Catalogue of World Coins (19th century Volume) or CAST CHINESE COINS by David Hartill.

 

Local imitations of Hsien-Feng

Throughout the Chinese series there are found local imitations of Chinese coins. In some cases these coins are simply counterfeits meant to be spent alongside the official government issues. In other cases these are local coinages from other parts of southeast Asia (i.e. Sumatra) which copy Chinese issues, but were not meant to fool anyone. Unfortunately it is often difficult to tell which type one is dealing with. We suspect that the following two coins fall into the local coinage category as they are far too crude to fool anyone used to the official issues.

 

LOCAL IMITATION 1 CASH.     G   $2.00       VG   $3.00

 

PAPER MONEY

During the time of Hsien Feng, between 1853 and 1859, there was a large issue of Government paper money with denominations relating to the Cash coins (either in Cash or Taels). These notes are somewhat scarce, but do turn up from time to time and are the only Chinese banknotes of this period that are not very rare.

Note that most genuine examples of these notes will have a small hole at the top. This is the result of having been originally issued in bundles that were tied together by a cord passed through the holes, and the hole does not affect the value in any way.

 

  2000 cash of 1859 (Year-9). Reference Pick-A4g. The reverse is blank on these, although there can sometimes be merchant chops on them). An intact note with a light stain in the top left corner and a few brown rust stains from paper clips (more noticeable on the back). There are three major folds horizontally across the note. At the top on the note, in the middle, is a small hole as which should be present on most genuine examples of these notes 231 x 133 mm.

gVF   $165.00

Emperor MU TSUNG
AD 1861-1874

Mu Tsung is unusual amongst Ch’ing dynasty emperors in that he had two reign titles, although one of them was only in use for a very short period of time (probably a few weeks).

 

Reign title: CH’I-HSIANG, AD 1861

 

Coins of this reign title are very rare and most if not all examples are either seed or mother cash. Hartill (page 393) says he does not believe any circulation examples were cast, and only lists examples from Board of Works and Board of Revenue mint. Schjoth did not list any examples.

  Obverse: “CH’I-HSIANG TUNG PAO”. Reverse : “T’UNG-CHIH TUNG PAO”. This is an odd coin, with Mu Tsung’s two reign titles on opposite sides. We first we thought it might be an amulet, found it listed in the Shanghi Enyclopedia as a known coin. 27.2 m, 7.53 grams.

Very rare, and we can only guess at a value in the $2500.00 range.

 

Reign title: T’UNG CHIH, AD 1862-1874

 

  S-1554. C-4-17, “BOO JE” (Chekiang mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Che.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

  S-1556, “BOO SU” (Kiangsu Provincial mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Su.

F   $8.50     VF   $11.50

 

  S-1557, “BOO FU” (Fukien mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Fu as well.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

C-15-7, “BOO GUNG” (Kiangsi mint).     F   $4.00       VF   $5.50       XF   $11.00

 

C-24-8, “BOO CUWAN” (Szechuan mint).     VG   $9.50       F   $15.00

 

  C-26-7, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yun.

VG   $3.50       F   $5.00

 

T’ung Chih also issued some larger denomination coins in both brass and copper, in 4, 5 and 10 cash denominations. The 4 and 5 cash are rare and seldom seen, but the 10 cash turn up fairly often.

 

  S-1600. 10 cash from the Board of Works mint. These come in a variety of sizes. The specimen illustrated is 7.15 grams, 28.6 mm.

F   $7.50       VF   $11.50

Emperor TE TSUNG
AD 1875-1908

Reign title: KUANG-HSU, 1875-1908

   

OBVERSE ON
1 CASH

OBVERSE ON
10 CASH

 

  As c-1-16 but 19 mm. “BOO CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Ch’uan, or “The Fountain head of the Currency”.

gVF   $5.00     AS CAST   $8.50

 

  C-2-15, “BOO YUWAN” (Board of Works mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yuan or “The Source of all Currency”.

F   $4.50     VF   $7.50

 

  Hartill 22.1352, “BOO HO” (Honan mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Ho. This particular example has a small circle at the bottom of the reverse, and there are other types with other symbols at the top or bottom of the reverse. This mint operated between 1898 and 1905.

F   $6.50     VF   $8.50

 

  Hartill 22.1419, “BOO CHI” (Chi-chou, which is the Peiyang arsenal mint in Chihli). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-chi. Coins of this type will often be poorly cast and poorly finished and even when nearly as cast will look to be Fine or VF. This mint was opened in 1898.

F   $4.00     VF   $6.50

 

  Hartill 22.1426 to 22.1428. “BOO GU” (Dagu, which is the Dagu Imperial Navy Yard in Chihli). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-Gu. Coins of this type will often be poorly cast and poorly finished and even when nearly as cast will look to be Fine or VF. This mint was opened in 1898.

F   $6.00     VF   $8.50

 

C-10-25, “BOO FU” (Fukien mint).     F   $4.00       VF   $7.00

 

  C-26-7, “BOO YON” (Yunnan mint). The Manchu mint name translates to Pao-yun.

F   $7.50       VF   $12.50

In 1898 and 1899, a series of 1 cash coins were cast at the Board of Revenue and Board of Works mints with and extra character at the top to indicating the quarter of the year in which they were cast. Hartill lists seven different in the following order : YU, ZHOU, RI, LEI, LAI, WANG and one with just a DOT, but does not indicate if this is in the sequence in which they were used. These are small coins, generally around 19 mm. All are of the same value at :       F   $10.00       VF   $15.00

     

image not yet available

YU

ZHOU

RI

LEI

   

image not yet available

 

LAI

WANG

dot

 

MACHINE STRUCK CASH

During the Kuang-hsu period the first machine made cash coins of China were struck. They were struck in a very yellow brass, and tend to be very well made, but do not appear to have been too popular as they are normally seen with very little wear on them, showing they did not circulate widely. Most were made in the Kwangtung province, and were probably first struck in 1889.

 

  Y-189, “Kuang T’ung” (Kwangtung mint money) at the sides. The character at the bottom means 1 cash, but I have not yet determined the meaning of the two characters at the top. This type is reported to have been struck only in 1889.

VF   $1.50       XF   $2.50

 

  Y-190, “BOO Kuang” (Kwangtung mint) at the sides. This type was struck from 1890 to 1908.

VF   $1.00       XF   $2.00

Emperor PUYE
AD 1908-1912

Puye was the last emperor of China. He was only three years old when he come to the throne, then was forced to abdicate to the forces of the Republic 1912, but continued to live in the Imperial palace until 1924. In 1932 when the Japanese made him president of Manchukuo, and then changed his title to Emperor of Manchukuo in 1934, with reign title: K’ANG-TE.

 

Reign title: HSUAN-T’UNG, 1908 – 1912

 

  C-1-19.1 (small) and C-1-19.2 (large) 1 cash. Obverse: Hsuan-T’ung type. Reverse: “BOO” on the left and “CIOWAN” (Board of Revenue mint) on the right. Normally seen nearly “as cast” but are normally roughly finished.

small about 19.1 mm     gVF   $9.50     XF   $12.50

larger about 24 mm     gVF   $30.00     XF   $45.00

 

The use of cast cash coinage all but came to an an end shortly after 1912, so these Hsuan-T’ung coins saw little use and are normally seen in a grade of XF to near mint state condition with clear original file marks. Coins appearing to grading F or VF are usually just poor castings rather than worn coins.

TAI PING REBELS

Tai Ping Rebel fought a civil war with the Ching Dynasty from 1853-1864, making both coins and paper money. The paper money is rare and genuine examples seldom offered, but the coins turn up from time to time. When attributing a coin to this period, is is important to note that while there are many differnt types not listed here, all have characters on the reverse and any that are blank on the reverse, date to the reign of the North Sung Emperor T’ai Tsung, AD 976 to 997.

  S-1606. 1 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-P’ING T’IEN-KUO” (T’ai P’ing Celestial State or T’ai P’ing Heavenly Kingdom). Reverse: “SHENG-PAO” (Sacred Currency). This issue is often rough or poorly cast. Average (1 specimen) 22.3 mm, 3.54 grams.

F   $30.00     VF   $50.00

 

  S-1607. 1 cash. Obverse: “T’AI-P’ING T’IEN-KUO” (T’ai P’ing Celestial State or T’ai P’ing Heavenly Kingdom). Reverse: “SHENG-PAO” (Sacred Currency).

F   $30.00     VF   $50.00

 

  Hartill-23.19. 1 cash. Obverse: “T’IEN-KUO T’AI-P’ING” (The Celestial State of T’ai P’ing). Reverse: “SHENG-PAO” (Sacred Currency). Average (1 specimen) 25.0 mm, 4.87 grams.

F   $30.00     VF   $50.00

PALACE CASH

Palace cash should may or may not be considered a type of amulet. According to the Krause catalogue of world coins, these were made as New Years gifts to people in the Imperial Palace, usually eunuchs and guards, who hung them below lamps. Hartill, in “Qing Cash” (Royal Numismatic Society, 2003) agrees they were handed out as gifts in the Palace, but only on the establishment of each new Reign title, and were wrapped in red cloth. I am inclined to accept David Hartill’s explanation which only involves them being cast once at the beginning of each reign title, rather than annually at New Years, as this is consistent with their relatively rarity. Usually between 30 and 40 mm, with the first issue being under Ch’ien-lung in 1736, and continuing for each succeeding Emperor to the end of the Ching Dynasty.

  Obverse: “HSIEN FENG TUNG PAO”. Reverse : “T’EIN-HSIA TAI’PING” meaning “peace under heaven”.

WE HAVE NOT YET ESTABLISHED A VALUE

 

“By this time machine-struck coppers and silver dollars had taken over the role of the square-holed cash, and the few that were minted by the Board of Revenue played only a symbolic role, minted in consideration for the livelihood of the mint workers who would otherwise be left without a job …” (Jen, page 171)

1906 Szechuan 10 Cash Y#10t

1908 Szechuan 1 dollar 1914 Y 73 – cast warlord issue

1937 Rep. 1 Fen Y#347


Chinese Charms

IMAGE

DESCRIPTION

REFERENCE

  K’ang-hsi coin charm, 1622-1722
Dragon & Phoenix rev, 55 mm, 58.09 gms.
The dragon represents royalty, rain, and spring. The dragon admonishes greed and avarice. The phoenix is the fabled bird that is burned and renewed from the ashes. In china, the phoenix is known as “Feng-Huang”. “Feng” is the male phoenix and “Huang” is the female phoenix. The phoenix represents the Empress, beauty, warmth, prosperity and peace. The ancient Chinese believed that the dragon presided over the Eastern Quadrant of China and the phoenix ruled the Southern Quadrant.
Schj. p.99 #30
  Cheng-te coin charm
Dragon & Phoenix rev, 54 mm, 42.73 gms.
Schj. p.98 #28
  Openwork dragon & phoenix amulet
58 mm 29.62 gms.
?
  Obverse of Schjoth 630 – 33 mm 17.02 gms.
Rev: Constellation, crescent, & pellet
?
  Spade shaped Amulet – Obverse: Dragons around Chinese characters Schjoth 630 – 54 x 103 mm
Rev: Huo-Pu as Schjoth 148
?

 

 

 

 

Paper is Invented by the Chinese

 

The invention of paper is traceable to 105AD, the year in which Ts’ai Lun, a

scholar attached to the imperial court, conceived the idea of forming a sheet of paper

from the macerated bark of trees, old rags, fish nets, and hemp waste. The invention of

the camel’s hair brush around 250AD was a huge step forward in facilitating the writing

of Chinese characters. This led to a need for an inexpensive and abundant writing

material. The spread of calligraphy throughout China greatly speeded the development

of paper manufacture. By substituting cheaper materials in lieu of silk, paper was soon

within reach of everyone. Paper quality increased dramatically when sizing, a method

by which glue was added to the paper to fill the pores, was discovered. This made the

paper less absorbent preventing the ink from running. That early Chinese paper was of

excellent quality there is no doubt. Surviving examples of paper made in the third

century have been found in the arid deserts of Chinese Turkestan. All sorts of paper

products made their appearance at this time and soon found wide acceptance. These

included writing paper, paper napkins, wrapping paper and, yes, even toilet paper! The

world owes a huge debt to Ts’ai Lun, yet his name is hardly known. Quite possibly,

without the invention of paper, printing would not have come into general use. For the

next 500 years the art of papermaking was endemic to the Chinese.

The process by which the early Chinese made paper involved stripping the bark

from mulberry or bamboo trees, separating the cellulose fibers and soaking them after

which they were boiled over a hot fire. Next the fibers were combined with hemp and

straw pulp similarly prepared. The resulting mixture was placed into basins and then

screened onto wooden molds. The wet sheets were then pressed to remove any

remaining excess moisture. The resulting paper was then carried outside and pasted to

the mud walls of the compound to dry in the sun. After drying, the sheets were taken

down and packed into bundles ready for market.

By the time paper came into general use, the camel’s hair brush, ink and

calligraphy were sufficiently developed to virtually create an information explosion.

From this new technology grew the creation of the world’s first paper money.

Deer Skin and “Flying Money”

 

Various forms of money, other than copper cash, preceded the use of paper,

however. Early in the Han dynasty emperor Wu authorized the use of “deer skin

money” to be used in ceremonial presentations at the Han court. These skins measured

Paper was a Chinese invention. To make it, bamboo stalks or the inner bark of the mulberry tree were

cut, pounded into pulp, split and cooked over a hot fire to separate the cellulose fibers. Later the

mixture was screened into molds, then pressed to remove moisture and dried in the sun.

a Chinese square foot. They were elegantly decorated with fine painting and

embroidery and used to wrap gifts for the emperor. As such, they took on a certain value

of their own. Royal princes and pretenders were annually required to present valuable

presents to the emperor at court, thus confirming their allegiance to him. These presents

often took the form of jade or gold, which protocol dictated be wrapped in the skin of a

white deer prior to presentation. The emperor thus enjoyed a monopoly, since the only

deer hide permitted for this use came from the emperor’s forbidden royal garden.

 

 A

value of forty thousand cash was assigned each hide. The feudal princes therefore had to

purchase their skins from the emperor prior to making their presentation when in

audience before the emperor. This was a scheme employed by the Western Han

government to collect “immortal money”. Today we would call it extortion! “Deer

skin” money, confined to imperial use, was never meant for general circulation. These

skins, however, did circulate freely among court officials and eunuchs within the royal

palaces and grounds. It is universally agreed among scholars that deer skins were not

“money” at all, and certainly not paper; nevertheless most references include them, as

they represent an important step in Chinese monetary development.

Another form of money not meant for general circulation appeared about 800AD

during the Tang dynasty. These notes, known as “flying money”, were similar to

modern day bank drafts. The vouchers were strictly limited for use in mercantile

transactions between distant places. Merchants deposited cash at the point of origin in

return for paper (flying money) guaranteeing reimbursement in distant provinces. Thus

a double transfer of cash was made without any physical transfer between points.

 

 

 

The

picturesque term “flying money” evolved from this practice, as though the cash had

“flown” from point of origin to destination. Government representatives, army officers

and rich merchants could deposit money at the point of origin (usually the capital),

receive a kind of bill-of-exchange for it, and when reaching their destination cash the

note, receiving copper coin for it on demand. Flying money therefore could not be used

in trade or circulated by the general public. This practice relieved the traveler of the

burden of transporting large amounts of weighty cash, which often as not fell victim to

bandits and highwaymen. The government, realizing the value of such a scheme,

quickly took over from the private merchants. Henceforth local taxes and revenues were

forwarded to the capital in this way. Inasmuch as these drafts were transferable and

could be exchanged among merchants they took on the appearance of currency.

The notes themselves were printed on yellow paper using black ink. When the

official red seals had been applied they took on a pleasing three- color effect. Mr.

Andrew McFarland Davis, of whom we will learn more later, claims to have had in his

possession at one time two different examples of flying money in denominations of 1

and 9 kwan. These were subsequently given to a Boston museum. The notes measured

approximately 9 x 6 inches, their borders containing various clouds and dragon designs.

 

An early example of Tang dynasty “flying money”, from the one time collection of Andrew McFarland

Davis. This one kwan note was issued during the reign of emperor Wu Tsung (841-846 AD). The

picture at the center of the note represents a one-ounce silver sycee ingot. Note the two official seals

placed on the note to authenticate it. Flying money, not meant to be a medium of exchange, was only

negotiable between two distant points, and therefore cannot be considered true paper money.

 

 

The First Paper Money Used as a Medium of Exchange

Real paper currency, as we know it today, first made its appearance in China’s

Szechuan province early in the Sung dynasty. These bills took the form of promissory

notes known as “chiao-tzu”. During the reign of emperor Chen Tsung (998-1022AD)

the government granted a monopoly to sixteen prosperous merchants in the Cheng-tu

area of Szechuan and permitted them to issue paper money. Printed in black and red

from copper plates the notes contained various scenes of village life. Denominations

were applied to the notes using a brush and black ink, ordinarily for one string (1000) of

cash. When some of the merchants were slow to redeem the notes they soon became

inflated. As a result the private issue of paper money was forbidden and in their place,

in the year 1023, a government monopoly known as the Bureau of Exchange was set up

to replace them.

Most scholars are in agreement that these notes were the true starting point for

paper money not only in China, but also throughout the world. Later the idea of a

medium of exchange to serve commerce and trade became institutionalized as a

government policy. This new policy was immediately successful because the notes were

not only backed by cash but were completely transferable. From this point on citizens

could buy commodities with paper because the paper notes were conceived to be as

good as copper cash.

Early Chinese Works on Numismatics

 

Paper money issues of the Sung, Chou, Liao, Hsia and Chin dynasties are only

fragmentally documented. Much more is known of the Yuan and Ming issues. This is

because many of the older types of ancient paper money have disappeared completely

and are known only through ancient Chinese works on numismatics, if at all.

The foremost work on Chinese numismatics to appear to date was published in

1832. Entitled Ch’uan Pu T’ung Chih it contains descriptions of ancient paper money

including illustrations of the notes themselves. In the introduction to Ch’uan Pu T’ung

Chih, the author states that the work was begun in 1816, was printed in 1832 and the

following year the binding was completed. He goes on to apologize for the inadequacy

of the work by stating: “as there are many hundreds of varieties of paper money, they

could not be enumerated even on a hundred pages”. In Ch’uan Pu T’ung Chih the

author lists, either through his own personal knowledge or by reference to other

numismatic works, some 259 banknotes which had been issued over a period of twentysix

“nien haos” (the reign years of various emperors) spanning ten dynasties.

 

This note is perhaps the earliest paper money ever discovered. Called “hue-tsu”, it is a Sung

government issue dating from 1023 AD. The note was meant to circulate throughout the kingdom,

with the exception of Szechuan province. Although these early notes no longer exist, it is still possible

to research them due to a recent archaeological discovery. During excavation, several brass plates used

in the preparation of this early Chinese paper money were unearthed. The Facsimile image shown here

was produced by making a print from the original plate.

The design of eighty-one of these notes, issued from the Tang through Ming

dynasties are presented, covering the period 650AD to 1425AD. The existence of a

number of surviving notes and plates used in their manufacture permit comparison with

these line drawings thereby verifying the accuracy of the illustrator. This is not to say

that all such illustrations were derived from existing notes, but it is highly probable that

they were. Copies of the official seals affixed to the face and backs of these notes are

included together with artwork found on the reverse of some issues. The author of this

work, whose name has been lost to posterity, apparently was a collector of these notes as

well. He lists in the introduction to Ch’uan Pu T’ung Chih the sources from which he

acquired the notes, for example: “In the autumn of 1832 from Mr. Tao’s collection,

notes of the Sung, Yuan and Ming dynasties, thirty-three in all. In the summer of the

following year, from Mr. Chu notes of the Sung, Western Hsia, Chin and Liao dynasties,

thirty-one in all”, etc.

Several other old Chinese numismatic books were illustrated in the same way.

One such reference is a volume published in 1826 by Chang Tsung-i. Entitled Ch’ien

Chih Hsin Pien, it covers currency from the Sung through Ming dynasties.

Another difficulty impeding the study of these notes lies in the dearth of material

to be found in the English language. Wang Yu-Ch’uan in his Early Chinese Coinage

decried the lack of historical and archeological records available to him when

conducting his research. Chinese references, which have been preserved over the years,

generally are not available to Western scholars. Happily, several good books have been

published in China and the west in recent years, which bear upon the subject. Most of

these are written in Chinese; however some contain English introductions. Since the

opening of the former Chinese communist closed society, many of these works have

become more accessible in the West.

Early References Published in English

 

Perhaps the first American to seriously research ancient Chinese paper money,

was a gentleman from Boston by the name of Andrew McFarland Davis. Mr. Davis was

a numismatist with no prior knowledge of the subject. In 1910 he acquired from a

London book dealer a Ming dynasty one kwan note which had been issued circa

1375AD. This immediately sparked his interest in the subject. Having an insatiable

curiosity, he entered into an extensive correspondence and investigation concerning

ancient Chinese paper money. These inquiries included correspondence with the British

Museum in London. His determination paid off when, in the fall if 1914, he was

offered a group of fourteen of these old notes, which he quickly secured. This group

included two Tang dynasty notes (flying money) dating back to 850AD together with

examples of paper money from the Sung, Yuan and Ming periods. This acquisition

thoroughly stimulated his curiosity; whereupon he set out to learn all he could about

them. His findings were recorded in a paper entitled Certain Old Chinese Notes, which

was presented before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston in 1915.

This work was subsequently published in book form under the same title. The book sets

forth his research into the matter and includes many illustrations of notes in his

collection, some in full color.

Andrew McFarland Davis in a paper entitled Ancient Chinese Paper Money as

Described in a Chinese Work on Numismatics, which was given before the American

Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1918, describes the notes illustrated in Ch’uan Pu

T’ung Chih in detail. Davis goes on to cite other sources, which tend to authenticate

these early notes. He states that the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was in possession

of twenty photographs of Tang dynasty flying money which had been taken from the

originals, subsequently lost. Other sources cited, which bear on the subject, are a

Japanese book by Luo Zhengyu, published in 1920, entitled Illustrated Record of the

Paper Money of the Four Dynasties, in which are recorded all the ancient paper money

issues known to him together with descriptions of notes which had been published in the

Journal of the Peking Oriental Society. In addition to these works, archeological digs in

the arid deserts of western China have unearthed some remarkably preserved paper

money specimens as well as the printing plates from which they were made. The

discovery of these printing plates has allowed us to positively identify certain issues for

which specimens no longer exist.

Sung Dynasty Paper Money

 

To replace the private issues of chiao-tsu which had been forbidden by the

government,

the Bureau of Exchange issued their own notes known as “hui-tsu”. These

notes had a cash reserve. Denominations of 200, 300, 500 cash and 1, 2 and 3 strings

were issued. The notes issued in one period were in theory to be redeemed by the

subsequent issue. Due to lax government controls, this did not always happen and

gradually the notes became inflated. When this happened, the government was quick to

take advantage of the situation, using the inflated money on military expenditures.

Gradually, circulation of these notes expanded from the large cities to every corner of

the kingdom.

It is estimated that by the end of the Northern Sung period, seventy

million strings of paper cash were in circulation.

 

Hue-tsu notes held their value initially.

The official exchange rate called for one

string of hue-tsu to be equal to 770 cash.

 This is because it was Sung government

practice to reckon 77 cash as 100. During the later years of the Sung dynasty the

quantity of hue-tsu issued was ever increased to the point where the country became

inundated with paper notes. Over several decades the value of hue-tsu fell and at the

end of the dynasty they had become almost worthless.

It is uncertain if any Sung dynasty notes have survived to this day. Lien-sheng Yang in his book Money and Credit in China claims that none have been preserved, and the book A Compilation of Pictures of Chinese Ancient Paper Money in its Sung dynasty section shows only two notes, both images taken from recently recovered brass plates.

This is surprising since Andrew McFarland Davis’s book Certain Old Chinese Notes contains photographs of two Sung dynasty specimens, which were in his collection at that time. Both notes are from the emperor Hiao Tsung period (1165-1174), one in the amount of 70 and the other 100 kwan. These notes together with others, all the subject of Davis’s Certain Old Chinese Notes, were subsequently turned over to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Davis goes on to state that the notes were shown to the members present at the time his paper was presented before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in February 1915.

Despite there being no apparent surviving specimens, we can nonetheless still appreciate their beauty.

 

 This is because several plates used in printing the notes have

survived. By making ink impressions from these plates we can see the original appearance of the notes, even though only copies. One such brass plate from the Sung period (1127-1279AD) was recently found in Hangchou.

 A representation of ten coins is found in its upper frame. The section below contains twenty-nine Chinese characters,

which read: “With the exception of Szechuan, this (note) may be circulated in the

various provinces and districts to make public and private payments representing 770

cash per string”. The bottom section contains a drawing of a granary courtyard with

three men carrying bags of grain.

In his book Ancient Chinese Paper Money as Described in a Chinese Work on Numismatics Davis describes in great detail some eighteen Sung dynasty notes, both

Northern and Southern, together with line drawings of the notes which the unknown

author of the Chinese numismatic work had supposedly seen in 1816 when compiling

his thesis. None of these notes has surfaced to date, leaving us in doubt as to their true

authenticity.

 

Numerous other government issues appeared throughout the dynasty. Many ofthese were for military expenditures or for commodities such as salt, rice and tea.

We might take a moment at this point to describe the format of ancient Chinese paper money

as all dynasties followed the same general pattern when producing them. These were

large vertical notes, usually gray in color, sometimes measuring up to 8 x 12 inches. At

the top of the note in seal script on a single horizontal line, the name of the issuer and

the type of money represented would appear; such as “Great Sung Current Use Treasure

Note” or “Great Ming General Circulation Treasure Note”, etcetera.

 Below, enclosed in an ornamental frame would be found the value of the note together with a pictorial

drawing of strings of cash or silver sycee ingots matching the denomination.

At the bottom, columns of text were displayed usually alluding to the governmental

 

 

This “Great Sung Public Convenience Note” of 50 kwan carries a pictorial representation of ten five

ounce sycee ingots. The text states that the Board of Rites has printed this note for the convenience of

the people, and that it is to be used side by side with copper cash. The reward for informing on a

counterfeiter of this note is stated to be 1000 taels of silver.

 

Illustrations were sometimes placed upon the reverses of Sung dynasty notes in addition to the seals sometimes found there.

The inscription on the rolled up scroll reads: “To open the scroll is to

benefit”. A number of animal forms may be found on the notes of Southern Sung emperor Kao Tsung

(1127-1162 AD). These include: a tiger on the 10 kwan note, a ssŭ (Chinese mythical dog) on the 20

kwan, an elephant on the 30 kwan, a hare on the 40 kwan and a lion on the 50 kwan note. The last

example is of a rider-less horse with a four character inscription which reads: “Peace be unto men and

horses”. This later specimen is from the Liao dynasty.

department issuing the note, the manner in which it could be used in trade or for the

payment of taxes, reference to the counterfeiting laws and an announcement of the

reward to be given informers of such nefarious scoundrels. To the left of this box one

will find the dynastic nien hao, or reign title, and the characters for day, month and year

of issue. From Chin dynasty times onward all banknotes carried the nien hao and date.

Reign titles characteristically consisted of two characters, arranged vertically,

designating a period of rule within a dynasty; for example, the “Hung-wu period in the

reign of Ming emperor T’ai Tsu. Some emperors, at their whim, changed reign titles as

many as nine or ten times during their tenure. Dates were filled in by brush at time of

issue. The official government vermilion seals of the dynasty would then be applied to

the face of the note to authenticate it. These notes were printed from hand-carved

wooden blocks or copper plates. Few changes were made to the basic format of these

notes until the beginning of the 20th century, some thousand years later.

Reverses of ancient Chinese notes were usually blank, although there are

exceptions. As early as the Sung dynasty, seals appeared on the back as well as the front

of the note. Sometimes, ornamental designs representative of the denomination or

figures of animals were also included on the reverse. One such depiction on the back of

Sung dynasty Ching-k’ang notes issued in 1126AD illustrates a scroll with four

characters superimposed, which read: “To open the scroll is to benefit”. Other examples

appear on the reverses of Sung emperor Chien-yen paper money (1127-1130AD). A

tiger is shown on the 10 kwan note, and a Chinese dog (called a sšu) on the 20. The 30

kwan depicts an elephant, the 40 a hare and on the highest denomination in this series,

(the 50 kwan note) a lion. It is not now known why these artistic designs graced the

back of these notes.

From the Sung period forward a variety of different banknotes were issued. Some

had a limited life and were meant to be retired upon a specific date. Others had

indeterminable life spans. With others, circulation was confined to a certain local area.

The text usually explained these restrictions.

Chin Dynasty Paper Money

Paper money of the Chin dynasty was known as “chiao-ch’ao”, or exchange

notes. These bills were first issued in 1153, shortly after the capital was moved to

Peking. Chin money followed the same format as its Sung predecessors.

Denominations of 100, 200, 300, 500, 700 cash and 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 kwan are reported

in old Chinese literature. These notes were made of thicker paper and were gray in color.

In this series the borders of the notes are decorated with clouds and bats. The vermilion

seals applied to the notes read “Seal of the T’ien-hui Reign” (1123-1137AD) above, and

“Treasure Note of the Great Chin Dynasty” below. The Chin government defined a

“string” as containing but 800 cash. The salaries of military officers and their soldiers

were fully paid in these notes. No rules were levied restricting their period of

circulation, a step forward in the evolution of paper currency, as it freed the note from

time restrictions. After a few decades the chiao-ch’ao began to depreciate. Many steps

were taken to stabilize the currency. At each step the old bills were allowed to continue

in circulation, often at absurdly devalued rates. The rate of depreciation accelerated

rapidly despite an attempt to tie their value to silver ingots. These measures did not stop

the downward spiral until, in the year 1223, at the end of the dynasty, Chin paper money

had dropped to 1/150th of its original value. Chin paper money was the first to use the

reign title in dating the notes, a practice which was to continue down to the end of

imperial China. The Chinese numismatic book Ch-uan Pu T’ung Chih contains

 

 

illustrations of two of these notes, the first a “Great Chin Army Note” of 5 kwan, the

second the 10 kwan of emperor T’ai Tsung listed above. Incredibly several fragments of

actual Chin notes have been found in archeological digs together with brass plates used

to prepare them.

The Inner Mongolian Numismatic Research Institute book A

Compilation of Pictures of Ancient Chinese Paper Money contains impressions taken from a number of these printing blocks.

 

 

Paper money fragment dating from he Chin dynasty with a border design of lotus flowers and leaves.

Liao and Western Hsia Dynasty Paper Money

 

The Liao are grouped into what some historians call the Tartar dynasties. These

included the Chin, Liao and Western Hsia kingdoms, all from the northern Chinese

border areas. They held sway for various periods from 907 to 1260AD.

When researching his work, the author of Ch’uan Pu T’ung Chih apparently had

access to a quantity of Liao notes and several of the Western Hsia, the property of the

Chu family. The Liao notes of Yeh-lu (1125-1135AD) were issued by the Board of War

to be used as payment for army supplies. Denominations consisted of one through ten

kwan, each note depicting the appropriate number of strings of cash: three strings on the

3 kwan note, six strings on the 6 kwan, etcetera. It has been rumored that several

specimens of Liao notes have survived; however, neither Lien-sheng Yang or the Inner

Mongolian Numismatics Research Institute mention them.

Paper Money of the Yuan Dynasty

 

During the Yuan dynasty China became part of the Mongol empire. In the year

1202 Temujin, after unifying the Mongolian tribesmen, was elected Genghis Khan

(Universal Ruler). Genghis Khan was a military genius. He organized the Mongols into

a military force, which consisted of the best-trained horsemen the world had yet to see.

These men fought on horseback with such precision they could hit targets while

cantering at a full gallop. These armies marched south into China and west across Asia

and into Europe sweeping everyone in their path. When Genghis Khan died, his armies

were poised to conquer Hungary after having invaded present day Poland and Lithuania.

Extending west to Poland and Moscow, south to the Arabian Peninsula and east to

Siberia and China, the Mongol Empire was the largest in history in terms of

geographical expanse. Genghis Khan was principally interested in acquiring China

because of its great wealth. Thirty-three years after his death his grandson, Kublai

Khan, became the Great Khan.

In the year 1271 the Mongols founded the Yuan dynasty (1271-1367AD)

thereby

making themselves the masters of China. Kublai Khan, having moved his capital from

Mongolia to Peking, adopted the Chinese dynastic name of Yuan. As a foreign ruler

over China, he built a strong central government in order to cement his authority. In

Peking he built the magnificent palace compound known as the Forbidden City. The

Chinese nobility having been barred from the every day running of government turned

their attention to the arts and literature. Because of this the arts and culture flourished

under the Yuan. The Mongols and Chinese spoke different languages and had different

customs. This cultural gap resulted in a more tolerant government than in previous

dynasties. Foreign religions were condoned and trade encouraged. Foreign merchants

became a privileged class. They were exempt from taxation and could travel freely

 

Western Liao 10 kwan note of the emperor Hsien Ch’ing (1136-1141 AD) entitled “Great Liao

Treasure Note”. The note depicts five silver sycee ingots of the “saddle” variety in the pictorial

rectangle. The text states: The counterfeiter shall summarily be decapitated and the captor of the said

counterfeiter be rewarded with 800 taels of silver.”

 

 

Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty, became Great Khan in 1260. His reign lasted until

1294, when he was succeeded by a number of less able emperors.

 

throughout China. It was into this climate that Europe was formally introduced to China with the arrival of Marco Polo, the Venetian adventurer.

The Great Khan was so

impressed with the Italian that he made him an official in his court in 1275. During his

seventeen year stay in the court of Kublai Khan, Polo wrote his famous book The Book

of Marco Polo, Citizen of Venice, Wherein is Recounted the Wonders of the World,

which when published upon his return from Europe in the year 1296, gave incredulous

Europeans the first glimpse of the mysterious land known as Cathay.

Marco Polo set out to explore Central Asia and China in 1271, at the age of

seventeen, accompanied by his father and uncle, successful Venetian merchants. Their

travels took them first by sea to Asia Minor, then overland by camel caravan through

Persia, Afghanistan and on to the ancient Silk Road, which would lead them to the

Mongol capital. After crossing the Gobi desert, they entered China after a journey of

three years. There the Venetians presented themselves to the Great Khan at his summer

palace at Shang-fu, where they delivered letters of introduction from Pope Gregory X.

Marco immediately became a favorite of the Great Khan, who upon seeing

 

Marco Polo as he may have appeared during his seventeen year service in the Mongol court of Kublai

Khan. Polo was a great favorite with the exalted Khan who liked him and found him to be extremely

useful. Despite this, he was willing to let him go. Sensing difficult times ahead after the aging Khan’s

death, as these was no dynastic continuity under Mongol law, Polo seized upon a chance to return in

1292, proposing to escort the bride-to-be of a Persian prince as far as Tabriz. To this plan Kublai Khan

consented, using the opportunity to send friendly messages to the Pope and potentates of Europe.

Since the overland route Marco had used when traveling to China was menaced by war, the Venetians

chose to return to Italy by sea in a Chinese junk.

his mastery of the Mongol language entrusted him with various missions to the far

corners of his realm. Marco took careful notes of his travels noting down the geography

and customs of the Chinese people in detail. These facts became the basis of his

remarkable book which, when published, stunned a skeptical Europe. Most of the facts

contained in his narrative have been confirmed in the light of modern research. The

Polos returned to Venice by sea arriving there in 1295 after an absence of twenty-four

years.

Marco Polo was so impressed with the novelty of paper money that he devoted an

entire chapter to the subject in his book. He described in great detail the manner in

which it was made, authenticated and used in everyday commerce. It is worth our while

to quote several applicable paragraphs here:

Map of the Mongol Empire showing Marco Polo’s journeys throughout China.

“In this city of Kanbaluc (the Mongol capital, now Beijing) is the mint of the

Grand Khan. He may truly be said to possess the secret of the alchemists, as he

has the art of producing money by the following process. He causes the bark to

be stripped from mulberry trees, the leaves of which are used for feeding

silkworms, and takes from it that thin inner rind which lies between the coarser

bark and the wood of the tree. This being steeped, and afterwards being pounded

into a mortar, until reduced to a pulp, is made into paper . . . When ready for use,

he has it cut into pieces of money of different sizes, nearly square, but somewhat

longer than they are wide . . . . The coinage of this paper money is authenticated

with as much form and ceremony as if it were actually pure gold or silver. To

each note a number of officers, specially appointed, not only subscribe their

names, but affix their seals also. When all is duly prepared the chief official

smears the seal entrusted to him with vermilion, and impresses it upon the paper .

. . . When thus coined in large quantities, this paper currency is circulated in every

part of the Great Khan’s dominions; no person, at peril of his life, dares to refuse

to accept it in payment. All his subjects receive it without hesitation, because,

wherever their business may call them, they can dispose of it again in the

purchase of merchandise such as pearls, jewels, gold or silver. With it, in short,

every article may be procured.”

The Yuan was the shortest lived of all ancient Chinese dynasties. Despite this, it

was the one which relied most heavily upon paper money to sustain commerce. When

control over the government once again fell into Chinese hands in 1368, a mere one

hundred years had past.

Due to better record keeping and more surviving specimens, we know much more

about Yuan paper money than that of all preceding dynasties. Upon establishing their

dynasty, the Yuan followed the example of the Sung, Chin and others when issuing their

own paper money.

 

Frontispiece of the 1503 edition of Marco Polo’s book describing his travels throughout Asia (1275-

1292 AD).

Early references state that the first known Mongol paper money was issued by

Ghenghis Khan in 1227, prior to the establishment of the Yuan dynasty. These were

military notes referred to as “silk money”. The notes were of paper but the backing used

for them, instead of the traditional silver, consisted of bales of silk yarn, a commodity,

which served as a convenient reserve. By the later eleventh century silk notes had

spread as far as Persia where two surviving specimens were found by archaeologists in

1965.

Another early Mongol note was found in 1909 in a cave in the Tu-lu- pan

mountains in Sinkiang province. It is in the amount of 200 cash. The first line reads

“Great Yuan Circulating Treasure Note”. The note is dated in the T’sung-t’ung period,

which lasted but five years from 1260 to 1264. The original note was extensively

damaged when found, especially its margins, which were incomplete. This note was

first published by Wang Shunan in a book entitled Catalog of Antiquities of Sinkiang.

The author reproduced the note by his own hand as best he could. He noted that the note

measured 1 chi, 4 cun 5 fen long by 1 chi 1 fen wide, a very large size making it

comparable to other Yuan and Ming dynasty paper money. The pictorial presentation is

of two crossed strings of 100 cash. The note’s text states that it is to circulate

throughout the kingdom without time limitation. The counterfeiting warning is different

in that this note, instead of levying capital punishment upon the criminal, states that the

falsifier will be fined and forced to pay five ding. Wang Shunan’s line drawing is also

illustrated in A Compilation of Pictures of Chinese Ancient Paper Money together with

what appears to be the brass plate from which the original note was printed.

The first true Yuan notes appeared in 1287, the twenty-fourth year of the Chihyuan

era. Known as “Chih-yuan t’ung-hsing pao-ch’ao”, or Great Yuan General

Circulation Treasure Notes, they eventually became the universal currency for the entire

empire, circulating not only throughout China but also in Burma, Siam and Annam. The

1 kwan note of this series was considered to be the equivalent of 5 kwan in old notes

then in circulation. These notes came in two sizes – the lesser and the greater. Lesser

notes included denominations of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 copper cash; the greater 100, 200,

300,400, 500 cash, 1 and 2 kwan. These were almost certainly the paper money referred

to by Marco Polo in his writings. The March 1988 issue of the Bank Note Reporter

announced the discovery of a 2 kwan note of this series in the Hermitage Museum in

Leningrad, at that time still part of the old Soviet Union.

Brass plates used in the printing of Yuan dynasty Chih-yuan notes have also

surfaced. It is known that eight such plates, including ones for 200 cash and 2000 cash

(2 kwan), were discovered at an old mint site in north China during the Japanese

occupation of 1937-1945.

 The 2 kwan printing block measures 11 inches high by 8

inches wide and is 3/8th inch thick.

A description of the 2 kwan note follows: On the top line, “Great Yuan General

Circulation Treasure Note”. Below this is found the denomination “two kwan” together

with an illustration of two strings of 1000 cash. To the left of the illustration, in seal

writing, are found the words “to circulate under the heavens” (the known world).

(Remember, the Chinese considered themselves to be at the center of the universe!).

The lower panel is translated as follows: “The Board of Revenue and Rites, having

petitioned and received the imperial sanction, print for the convenient use of the people

the Great Yuan Treasure Note, to be current and used for copper cash. The counterfeiter

shall be summarily decapitated and the informer will receive 200 taels of silver. If

district officials conceal such guilt, their punishment shall be the same”. The

appropriate governmental seals were then applied to the face of the note. The notes

were gray in color with red seals affixed.

Another form of currency circulated side by side with Chih-yuan ch’ao notes.

These were military notes known as “Great Yuan Military Supplies Notes”. They were

used when purchasing supplies for the various banner divisions of the army.

Paper money comprised the major form of currency under the Yuan. Relatively

few coins were cast during this dynasty due to trading restrictions imposed upon copper

and precious metals. In 1350 Emperor Shun Ti’s finance minister tried to correct the

situation, however the coins produced were insufficient to satisfy demand. People

reverted to barter throughout China leaving the notes, which had accumulated in private

and government coffers, to become worthless.

Rebellions soon spread over the entire empire. To meet increasing military

expenditures, new notes were issued without reserves of any sort. A malignant inflation

resulted in which these notes also lost all value. When that happened, people were

forced to fall back and rely entirely upon their “square holes” (as copper coins were

commonly called) and barter. This condition prevailed until the end of the dynasty in

1368, hastening its demise. At the end, the enormous sums, which had been swindled

from the Chinese by the Mongol emperors, helped to hasten their defeat at the hands of

the Ming.

In Part II we shall conclude by discussing the ancient Chinese paper money of the

Ming dynasty.

 

Bronze plate recently discovered in Shansi province. This block was used in making “Chên-yu paoch’üan”

(Chen-yu treasure notes). These were the product of emperor Chang Tsung (1190- 1208 AD)

of the Chin dynasty. The Chin were Nuchen Tartars who preceded the Yuan dynasty.

 

Facsimile of a 200 cash note of the Yuan dynasty, and the brass plate from which it was made. One of

these notes was found in a cave in Sinkiang province in 1909. The note is over seven hundred years

old.

 

Yuan dynasty Chih-yuan ch’ao 2 kwan note. Notes of this series became the universal currency for all

of China, circulating throughout Burma, Siam and Annam as well. A 2 kwan note identical to this was

found in the vaults of the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad in 1987. This is almost certainly the type

of currency Marco Polo reported extensively on in his book of travels. The facsimile of this note is

lacking the two government seals used to authenticate it

 

ANCIENT CHINESE CASH NOTES – THE WORLD’S

FIRST PAPER MONEY

PART II

John E. Sandrock

Ming Dynasty Paper Money

In contrast to Yuan heavy reliance upon paper notes, the follow-on Ming and

Ch’ing dynasty economies were based principally upon copper cash coins and silver.

Paper money was occasionally issued by the Ming government; however little effort was

made to control and maintain its value. The first Ming paper money appeared in 1374,

the product of the Precious Note Control Bureau (the name was later changed to the

Board of Revenue) specifically set up for this purpose. The notes themselves were

called “Ta Ming T’ung Hsing Pao Ch’ao”, Great Ming Precious Notes. Emperor T’aitsu’s

reign title was Hung-wu. This nien-hao appeared on these notes and on successive

Ming issues, regardless of the fact that all Ming emperors had their own reign titles.

This was an honor given to the founder of the dynasty. Ch’uan Pu T’ung Chih refers to

sixty different notes issued between 1368-1426. In all probability there were many

more.

 

From the beginning these notes were inconvertible and could not be exchanged

for coin. Notes of the Hung-wu reign (1368-1398AD) were issued in denominations of

100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 1000 cash. One string of paper (1000 cash) was the

equivalent of 1000 copper coins or one ounce of pure silver. In 1389 smaller value

notes of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 cash were printed to facilitate trade. It is

reported that the mulberry bark paper used to make the T’ai-tsu notes was recycled from

the waste of government ministries and Civil Service examination papers. There were

three distinct issues of Ming notes as follows: all bearing the reign title “Hung-wu”.

 

These notes circulated throughout the entire kingdom.

1. Those of the emperor T’ai-tsu, issued in 1375AD

2. Those of emperor Ch’eng-tsu (1403-1424AD)

3. Those of emperor Jen-tsung, son of Ch’eng-tsu, issued in 1425AD

 

Reflecting the inflation then being experienced, Ch’eng-tsu paper money consisted of

notes denominated 1 through 20 kwan, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 kwan all bearing

pictorial presentations of the equivalent amount of cash coins, each coin representing

five cash. Various cloud and dragon designs adorned their borders. Their color was

gray.

 

 

Ming dynasty 200 cash note of the emperor T’ai Tsu, who took the reign title Hung Wu in 1368. The

pictorial presentation is of two strings consisting of ten 10 cash coins which were in circulation at that

time.

 

 

Ming dynasty 50 kwan note of Ch’eng Tsu (1403-1424 AD). The pictograph in the top rectangle

depicts ten five cash coins, representing currently circulating coins of the preceding Hung-wu era.

(Schjőth catalog numbers S-1156 and S-1157.)

 

The unfortunate Jen-tsung died shortly after ascending the throne. In the short

eight months of his reign, twenty denominations were emitted. Beginning with 10 cash,

they proceeded by tens to 100 cash and then by hundreds to 1000 cash. They were

known as Great Ming Military Administration Treasury Notes. Pictorial presentations

on this series consisted of the equivalent in strings of cash.

 

The value of all these notes rapidly declined, eventually to the point where the

people would not accept them. By the end of the century it took 35 strings to buy an

ounce of silver. Twenty years later it took 80 strings to buy an ounce. Erosion in the

value of paper escalated until by the mid 1400s an ounce of silver commanded 1000

strings in paper! Silver was rapidly supplanting paper as a medium of exchange. The

Great Ming Precious Notes gradually disappeared from commerce. After 1455 works

on Chinese history make no mention of them. In the last year of the Ming dynasty

(1643AD) a memorial was sent to the emperor proposing the revival of a paper

currency. Set forth in the memorial, were a list of ten arguments for a new paper

currency.

 

These advantages were cited as:

1. Paper money can be manufactured at a low cost

2. It can circulate widely

3. Being lightweight, it can be carried with ease

4. It can be readily concealed

5. Paper money is not divisible, like silver, into various grades

6. Paper money did not have to be weighed when used, as did silver

7. Dishonest money changers could not “clip” if for their own profit

8. It would not be exposed to the preying eyes of thieves

9. Should paper replace copper coins, the copper saved could be used for making

armaments

10.Should paper replace silver, the silver saved could be stored up by the

government

 

The proposal, however, was not adopted, as by that late date the government was too

weak to benefit from such a scheme. Chinese commerce was to exist without paper

money for the next four hundred years.

 

Without question, the Ming note most widely known, and perhaps the only

specimen available to collectors today, is the 1 kwan of emperor T’ai-tsu. Enough of

these notes have survived to be found in many museums and private collections. The

story of how they came to be preserved is an interesting one. As far as I can ascertain

most Ming 1 kwan notes available today came from two sources. The first of these

stemmed from an incident, which occurred during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1908 H. B.

 

Yuan dynasty 90 cash note of emperor Shun Ti (1333-1367 AD) at left, together with a Ming dynasty

1000 cash note of emperor Jen Tsung (1425 AD), right. Jen Tsung’s reign lasted but one year. Both

notes measure approximately 3 . by 8 . inches and depict strings of copper cash. Note the increase in

inflation during the 100 year interval between the release of these two specimens. From the Chinese

work entitled Ch’uan Pu T’ung Chih.

 

Morse published a book entitled Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire

containing a lithographic facsimile of the Ming 1 kwan note. In the book he gives a

complete description of the note together with translations of the Chinese characters

found on it. Morse also tells of the manner in which the note was acquired, which goes

as follows:

 

“This five hundred year old instrument of credit has a curious history furnishing

an absolute guarantee of its authenticity. During the foreign occupation of Peking

in 1900, some European soldiers had overthrown a sacred image of Buddha, in the

grounds of the Summer Palace. Deposited in the pedestal (as in the corner-stones

of our public buildings) were found gems and jewelry and ingots of gold and

silver and a bundle of these notes. Contented with the loot’s intrinsic value, the

soldiers readily surrendered the bundle of notes to a bystander, U.S. Army

Surgeon Major Lewis Seaman, who was unofficially present. He gave to the

Museum of St. John’s College in Shanghai the specimen which is here

reproduced”.

 

The second report concerning the discovery of Ming 1 kwan notes concerns the

Reverend Mr. Ballou, a long time missionary, who was born in China and resided there

until after World War II. Reverend Ballou states that he received his Ming note from his

friend L. Carrington Goodrich who had been associated with Yenching University in

Peking during the 1930s. Mr. Goodrich related that he acquired the note under the

following circumstances:

 

“Sometime in 1936 one of the walls surrounding Peking was torn down. When

the laborers got to the huge gate in the wall, they found to their surprise, a large

bale of 1 kwan Ming dynasty banknotes buried in the wall itself. After removing

the soiled and damaged notes, the workers sold the notes to those persons

standing around. Mr. Goodrich came upon his note at that time. He told

Reverend Ballou that he purchased two of them for a few coppers, which

amounted to just a few pennies.”

 

Inasmuch as the 1 kwan note is the only one likely to be found in collections

today and without a doubt the oldest piece of world paper money one can aspire to own,

it is perhaps worthy of detailed discussion. Translation of the principal inscriptions

found on the note are as shown in the accompanying panel diagram:

 

1. “Great Ming General Circulation Treasure Note”

2. “One kwan”

3. A pictorial presentation of ten strings of 100 cash (= 1000 cash =

1 kwan)

4. “Great Ming Treasure Note” in seal style characters

5. “To circulate for ever and ever under the heavens” in seal script

6. The lower panel text reads: “The Board of Revenue, having

petitioned and received the imperial sanction, prints the Great Ming Precious

Note, to be current and to be used as standard copper cash. The counterfeiter

shall be decapitated. The informant shall be rewarded with 250 taels of

silver, and in addition shall be given the entire property of the criminal.”

 

The last column of characters at the left of the bottom panel, show the date as: “Hungwu

era, …year, …month, …day”. The note was manufactured from recycled gray

mulberry bark paper. Two vermilion seals were impressed into the note by government

officials to authenticate it. The upper of these seals reads: “Seal of the Treasure Note of

the Great Ming Dynasty”; the lower of the two bears the inscription: “Seal of the Office

of the Superintendent of the Treasury”.

 

Ming dynasty 1 kwan note of the Hung-wu era (1368-1398). This large note, printed in gray mulberry

bark paper, measures 8 x 11 . inches. The two vermilion seals shown in the next illustration do not

appear on this prototype. This is the only ancient Chinese paper money likely to be found in private

collections today.

 

Two official government seals appear on the face of the Ming 1 kwan note. They were pressed into the

finished note with wooden blocks using vermilion ink, thereby authenticating it. These seals can still

be plainly seen on most 1 kwan specimens in collections today. The seal at upper left reads: “Seal of

the Great Ming Treasure Note”; the seal at right “Seal of the Office of the Superintendent of Treasure”.

At the bottom is a black seal which was placed on the reverse of the note to indicate its value. The ten

strings represent 1000 copper cash, which equaled 1 kwan.

 

Some Numismatic Observations

 

The first observation I would like to make concerns the definition of the term

“ancient Chinese paper money”. What exactly, is meant by “ancient”? For me the term,

when applied to our subject, encompasses those notes which relate to the earliest and

remotest periods in Chinese history. Since the ancient style notes continued to be

printed into the nineteenth century, this causes a problem. Paper money ceased to exist

in China after being repudiated by the masses during Ming dynasty times and was not to

be seen again for four hundred years. During the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1865),

emperor Hsien-feng again resorted to financing his wars with paper money resembling

its forbearers. Are these notes to be included? I think not, as the period encompassing

the nineteenth century can hardly be considered “ancient”. I bring this up as most

authors lump the Hsien-feng notes into the overall category of ancient notes. I have not.

The notes of the T’ai-ping Rebellion deserve discussion in their own right. Therefore, I

have chosen not to include them here.

 

My next observation concerns the failure on the part of modern day catalogers to

include these anciient notes in their works. The Standard Catalog of World Paper

Money makes reference to only two Ming notes. Why is this, when so much

information regarding their authenticity is available? Today we know that notes of the

Sung, Chin, Liao, Yuan and Ming dynasties have survived. Of the Tang dynasty flying

money or Posterior Chou and Western Hsia dynasty paper money I have no information

as to surviving specimens. Many un-cataloged notes may be found in museums and

private collections. Of those that no longer exist a great deal is known thanks to

surviving Chinese numismatic works and to archeological discoveries. Why then are

they not included? Is it because notes that are unique or no longer exist cannot be

collected and therefore do not deserve a place in our numismatic catalogs? Since

numismatists generally have a profound curiosity about the material they collect and a

deep appreciation for the history which these items represent, the hobby would greatly

benefit from their inclusion.

 

Some may be curious as to the value of these ancient notes. The answer is

simplicity itself – they are, with the sole exception of T’ai-tsu’s one kwan Ming note,

priceless. Many specimens known today are unique, others known to exist in only two

or three collections or museums. The only ancient note one could reasonably hope to

obtain today is the Ming 1 kwan note, due to the fortunate discoveries in 1900 and 1936

mentioned above. The price of a reasonable example, intact, completely legible and

with seals affixed that are still clearly discernable would command between $ 1,000 and

$1,500 on today’s market.

 

A discussion of ancient paper money would not be complete were one to ignore

the extensive counterfeiting of these notes, which was at all times an immense problem

for administrative officials. From the earliest known issues cash notes always carried a

clause in the text, which called for capital punishment – usually decapitation. Those who

covered up or condoned such crimes were to suffer the same fate. It was also stated in

the text that a reward would be paid to the informer of such acts. These rewards were to

be paid in silver taels, of varying amounts, depending upon the denomination of the note

counterfeited. It also appears that such rewards fluctuated with the severity of the

problem at any one point in time. In reality, punishment meted out to those who ran the

risk of falsifying banknotes varied widely during different periods.

 

 

When emperor Shin Tsung of the Posterior Chou ascended the throne in 915AD,

he was in great need of funds. He seized over 3350 monasteries and then gave orders to

melt all Buddhist bronze images found there so that they could be turned into cash. The

emperor declared that Buddha himself would raise no objection, having in his lifetime

given up so much for mankind. The shortage of money also caused the emperor to send

a fleet of junks to Korea to trade silk for copper with which to mint cash coins. Given

these drastic measures, it is not surprising that the Chou also resorted to paper. The

Chou counterfeiting clause reflected the mood of the times when it stated: “The

counterfeiter of this denomination – principal or conspirator irrespectively – shall be

immediately executed by the authorities of the district concerned and be exposed to

public view”.

 

During the Sung dynasty the punishment seems to have been limited to

banishment, although a case is on record reporting the public decapitation of one greedy

fellow who was caught with 250 counterfeit notes in his possession! During the

following Chin and Yuan periods the problem must have become more severe, as the

punishment reverted to decapitation. By Ming times paper money became so

depreciated and was so disliked by the peasants that local officials treated these

criminals more leniently, often letting the miscreant off with only a fine. One emission

of notes stated a desire to single out only the true offenders, offering amnesty to

accomplices who confessed their wrongdoing.

 

Several types of counterfeiting were prevalent. Of course, the most frequently

encountered were notes printed from counterfeit blocks or plates. Another form of

counterfeiting, known as “pasting”, consisted of notes that were pasted together from

bits of other notes so that one kwan became ten and so on. For this type of

counterfeiting the punishment was less severe than for printing.

 

A most original solution to the counterfeiting problem occurred in Sung times

after a large shipment of counterfeit money had been seized. During the discussion as to

what should be done with the counterfeiters, one court official stated that the current

policy of beheading the criminals and destroying their money was a mistake. He

proposed instead the following:

 

“If you put the official imperial stamp on the counterfeited paper, it will be just as good

as genuine paper. If you punish these men only by tattooing them, and circulate these

notes, it is exactly as if you saved each day 300,000 copper cash together with fifty

lives.” It is said that the proposition was adopted.

 

Lastly I would like to call to the reader’s attention to an anomaly I noted some

years ago when inspecting a specimen of the Ming 1 kwan note. It concerns the

depiction of strings of cash shown on the face and reverse of the note. As early as Sung

times representations of coins found their way onto their paper money counterparts. In

ancient times, when the majority of the population consisted of an illiterate peasantry, it

was necessary to identify the value of the paper money note by placing ideograms or

pictographs upon it which everyone could recognize. This practice was continued by

succeeding dynasties, up to and including the Ming.

 

Individual coins were sometimes depicted but more often, because the intrinsic

value of a single coin was so low, they were shown grouped together as strings, or

groups of strings. A standard string was theoretically composed of one thousand cash,

which were strung together to facilitate handing. Each string of one thousand cash coins

had the equivalent value of one ounce of pure silver.

 

When one examines the 1 kwan note of Hung-wu closely he finds a depiction of

what appears to be at first glance ten strings of ten coins each which must be considered

to be of 10 cash denomination. Thus ten strings x ten coins per string x 10 cash per coin

= 1,000 cash, or 1 kwan. In reality what is depicted are ten strings of 10 cash coins;

however on close examination we will find that there are only nine coins to a string.

Aha! This is interesting. Could it be a mistake on the engravers part? This cannot be

the answer as a check of other cash notes in this series reveals the same anomaly, i.e.,

only nine 10 cash coins per string, or 900 cash.

 

I have concluded, therefore, that the representation of only nine coins, or 90 cash

per string was deliberate. But how can 900 cash be the same as 1000 cash? The

explanation, I believe, lies in the fact that during the Hung-wu reign 900 cash passed for

1000; just as 770 cash represented a string in Sung dynasty times and 800 during the

Chin dynasty. In other words the government’s financial arm, the Board of Revenue,

must have set the relation of cash coin to the value of a string by decree. Thus the

official value of cash in the marketplace would vary from time to time.

 

 

As we have seen, the pictorial representations of cash seen on ancient Chinese

banknotes are highly picturesque, tending more to reality than surrealism. One may

therefore conclude that the imagery of the coins contained in each string actually

 

This blow-up of the strings of cash depicted on the Ming 200 cash note of Hung-wu reveals but nine 10

cash coins per string, not the ten one would expect. Ten strings of ten coins each representing 10 cash

would equal 1000 cash, or one ounce of silver, otherwise known as 1 kwan. This was the official ratio

of cash to an ounce of silver. A depiction of nine 10 cash coins per string is found on all Ming dynasty

notes of 100 cash and above. So why are there only nine coins per string? There is an explanation!

On lower Ming denominations face value was depicted, not to represent the “official” ratio, but rather

what the note could be exchanged for in the marketplace.

 

 

 

depicted the real thing. If this is so, one must ask: “What exact coin was being

represented”? It would have to be a 10 cash piece, which circulated side-by-side with

paper money. Ming coinage production consisted overwhelmingly of one cash “square

holes” augmented occasionally by value “two’s”, “three’s” and “fives”. But, what of the

value “ten” cash pieces? A close examination reveals that the Ming Board of Revenue

minted ten cash pieces on only three occasions. The first of these was during the Tachung

era (1364-1367AD), and the second during the Hung-wu era (1368-1398AD).

The final Ming 10 cash coin issue appeared late in the dynasty (1621-1627AD) under

the reign period of T’ien-ch’i.

Ming 10 cash coin of the Hung-wu reign (1368-1398 AD) together with six reverses depicting the

value as “ten cash of a tael” (upper left) and five other coins with mint marks representing Nanking,

Honan, Peking, Chekiang and Fukien. This coin was most certainly the one represented on Ming

dynasty notes.

 

 

Since the 1 kwan Ming note states that it was sanctioned by emperor T’ai Tsu for

release under the Hung-wu reign title, the earliest date during which Hung-wu 1 kwan

paper money circulated would have been the year 1368. From this extrapolation we can

eliminate the 10 cash pieces of the T’ien-ch’i era, since they did not enter circulation

until almost three hundred years later. That leaves us with the ten cash pieces of the Tachung

and Hung-wu eras, either of which could have been the coins represented by the

pictograms. More than likely the contemporary coins of Hung-wu were those shown in

these illustrations, those whose legend reads “Hung-wu t’ung-pao” (current money of

Hung-wu). If this be so, we have narrowed our identification down to a series of six 10

cash pieces minted from 1368-1398AD. All bear the character “shih” (ten) on their

reverse. One specimen has in addition the characters “yi-liang” (one tael). When read

together the inscription reads “10 cash of a teal”, much as we would say “10 cents of a

dollar”. The remaining five specimens vary only by the position of the “shih” and the

location of the mint mark – “ching” for Nanking, “yu” for Honan, “Pei-ping” for the Peip’ing

Fu mint in Chihli, “che” for Chekiang and “fu” for the Fukien mint. These coins

are identified in Schjoth’s catalog The Currency of the Far East as

S1158-S1163. I believe these 10 cash pieces to be those appearing in the pictorial

representations found on Ming dynasty paper money.

 

 

In the field of paper money research there is probably more yet to be discovered

among ancient Chinese cash notes than in any other area. There is no doubt that

additional discoveries will be forthcoming from yet to be exploited archaeological sites.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bank Note Reporter: “Kublai Khan Currency – World’s Oldest –

Discovered in Russian, Chinese Museums”,

Bank Note Reporter, Iola, Wisconsin,

Krause Publications, Vol. 16, March 1988

Bodde, Derk: China’s Gifts to the West, Washington, D.C., 1942,

American Council on Education

Davis, Andrew McFarland: Certain Old Chinese Notes, Boston, 1915,

George Emery Littlefield Company

Davis, Andrew McFarland: Ancient Chinese Paper Money as Described in a

Chinese Work on Numismatics, Boston,

1918, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Glathe, Harry: “The Origin and Development of Chinese Money”, The

China Journal, Shanghai,

Vol. XXX, March-April 1939

Inner Mongolian Numismatic A Compilation of Pictures of Chinese

Research Institute: Ancient Paper Money, Beijing, 1987,

The China Finance Publishing House

Kann, Eduard: “Copper Banknotes in China”, Far Eastern

Economic Review, Hong Kong, Vol. XXVII, January

1958

Kann, Eduard: “The History of Chinese Paper Money”,

Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong,

Vol. XXII, March, 1957

Lu, Shibai: “Forged Notes of the Tang Dynasty”, Chinese Banknote

Collectors Society Bulletin, Kenelworth, Illinois, Vol.3

Nr. 1, March, 1984

Morse, H. B.: “Currency in China”, Journal of the North China Branch

of the Royal Asiatic Society, Number 38, 1907

Sandrock, John E.: Copper Cash and Silver Taels, Baltimore

Maryland, 1995, Gateway Press, Inc.

Smith, Ward D. and Chinese Banknotes, Menlo Park

Matravers, Brian: California, 1970, Shirjieh Publishers

Sten, George J.: Banknotes of the World, Menlo Park, California, 1967,

Shirjieh Publishers

Ting, S. P.: A Brief Illustrated History of Chinese Military Notes

and Bonds, 1982, Taipei,

Chung Hsiao Printing Company

Yang, Lien-sheng: Money and Credit in China, a Short History,

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1952, Harvard

Yenching Institute

Yu-Ch’uan, Wang: Early Chinese Coinage, New York, 1951,

The American Numismatic Society

Williams, S. Wells: “Paper Money Among the Chinese”, T’ung Pao,

Society of Oriental Numismatics, Iowa City, Iowa, Vol.

1, Nr.2, 1975

THE END @COPYRIGHT 2012

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4 responses to “THE ANCIENT CHINA NUMISMATIC HISTORY COLLECTIONS PART THREE

  1. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year
    old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She
    put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this
    is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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