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Coins of China

The earliest Chinese proto-coins, as early as 770 - 476 B.C., were imitations of the cowrie shells used in ceremonial exchanges. The first metal coins, also introduced in this period, were not initially round; instead, they were knife shaped or spade shaped. Round metal coins with a round hole, and then later a square hole, in the center were first introduced around 350 B.C. The beginning of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 B.C.), the first dynasty to unify China, standardized coinage for the whole Empire. At first, coinage was limited to use around the capital city district but by the beginning of the Han Dynasty, coins were widely used for paying taxes, salaries, and fines. Ancient Chinese coins are markedly different from coins produced in the west. Chinese coins were cast in molds, unlike western coins which were typically struck (hammered) or, in later times, milled. Chinese coins were usually made from bronze, brass, or iron. Precious metals like gold and silver were uncommonly used. The alloys of the coin metals varied considerably. Most Chinese coins were produced with a square hole in the middle. At the mint coins were threaded on a square rod so that the rough edges could be filed smooth on a lathe, after which they were threaded on strings for ease of handling. Official coin production was sometimes spread over many mint locations throughout the country. Aside from officially produced coins, private coining was common during many stages of Chinese history. At times private coining was tolerated, sometimes it was illegal. Some coins were produced in very large numbers. During the Western Han, an average of 220 million coins a year were produced. Some other types were of limited circulation and are extremely rare today.


China, Southern Song Dynasty, Emperor Xiao Zong, 1163 - 1190

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Emperor Xiaozong of Song started his reign in 1162 when his adoptive father and predecessor, Gaozong, abdicated and passed the throne to him. Even though Emperor Gao zong became a Taishang Huang ("Retired Emperor") after his abdication, he remained the de facto ruler, so Emperor Xiaozong only fully took over the reins of power in 1187 after Emperor Gaozong's death. After ruling for about a year, Emperor Xiaozong followed in his predecessor's footsteps and abdicated in favor of his third son Zhao Dun (Emperor Guangzong), while he became Taishang Huang and still remained in power until his death in 1194.Xiaozong
CH89205. Bronze 2 cash, Hartill 17.65, Schjoth 698, Fisher 1172, VF, dark near black patina, weight 7.229 g, maximum diameter 30.3 mm, 1163 - 1164; obverse Long Xing Yuan Bao, seal script; reverse plain; rare; $110.00 (96.80)


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

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The Guangxu Emperor, De Zong, was the tenth emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, under Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898. He initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he was put under house arrest until his death.
CH89424. Bronze 10 cash, Coins in the Collection of Shanghai Museum, Vol. 6, 2169 (5.0g, 25mm, similar thick rims); cf. Hartill 22.1275 (smaller), VF, rough fields and file marks (normal for the type), weight 4.565 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 0o, Bejing, Board of Revenue mint, c. 1875 A.D.; obverse Guang Xu tong bao, protruding head boo, thick outer rim; reverse Boo Chiowan (Board of Revenue), thick outer rim; rare; $95.00 (83.60)


China, Qing Dynasty, Sheng Zu, The Kangxi Emperor, 1662 - 1722

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The Kangxi Emperor is considered one of China's greatest emperors. According to tradition, while the Emperor Shen Zu was intimately associated with the European missionaries, he grew contempt for Buddhism and had a set of 18 brass images of the Luo-han Arhat (the 18 "vernerable" attendants of Buddha) melted down and cast into cash. The brass was said to contain a considerable portion of gold. Although analysis has shown that these coins do not contain any gold, great demand for these "Lohan cash" persists in China. Kangxi_Emperor
CH89209. Bronze cash, Lohan (venerable) cash; Hartill 22.91, Schjoth 1443, VF, weight 5.268 g, maximum diameter 26.3 mm, Board of Revenue mint, 1713 A.D.; obverse Kang Xi tong bao (one dot tong, Xi with no left down stroke); reverse Boo Chiowan, left and right; $90.00 (79.20)


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ghost Face Money

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This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH93042. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, gVF, nice olive green patina, light earthen deposits, weight 2.976 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $80.00 (70.40)


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ant Nose Money

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This form of early Chinese 'money' is nicknamed Ant Nose Money. The markings are possibly the characters "Ge liu zhu " (six zhu - weight). David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH91246. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.9, Schjoth 14, Fisher 7, VF, a little rough, light earthen deposits, weight 3.561 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse possibly intended to read Ge liu zhu; reverse plain; much less common than the "ghost face" type; $70.00 (61.60)


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

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"Round as the heavens, square as the earth," is a Chinese saying used to metaphorically describe the fabric of the coins. On the practical side, it was discovered very early that a square hole fit a square shaft, which enabled a stacked quantity of coins to be turned on a lathe to remove casting irregularities.

The slender gold script was the personal calligraphy style of the Emperor Hui Zong.
Huizong
CH89211. Bronze 10 cash, Hartill 16.400, Schjoth 621, Fisher 1040, VF, lovely dark blue-green patina, weight 10.574 g, maximum diameter 34.7 mm, 1102 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Chong Ning tong bao, clockwise, slender gold script, bottom of Chong like he; reverse plain; $50.00 (44.00)


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

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"Round as the heavens, square as the earth," is a Chinese saying used to metaphorically describe the fabric of the coins. On the practical side, it was discovered very early that a square hole fit a square shaft, which enabled a stacked quantity of coins to be turned on a lathe to remove casting irregularities.

The slender gold script was the personal calligraphy style of the Emperor Hui Zong.
Huizong
CH89212. Bronze 10 cash, Hartill 16.400, Schjoth 621, Fisher 1040, VF, attractive blue-green patina, light earthen deposits, weight 11.218 g, maximum diameter 34.4 mm, 1102 - 1106 A.D.; obverse Chong Ning tong bao, clockwise, slender gold script, bottom of Chong like he; reverse plain; $50.00 (44.00)


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ghost Face Money

Click for a larger photo
This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH93035. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, F, corrosion, earthen deposits, weight 3.300 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $45.00 (39.60)


China, Warring States, Chu Kingdom, c. 476 - 221 B.C., Ghost Face Money

Click for a larger photo
This cowrie form is nicknamed Ant Nose Money and the specific type is nicknamed the Ghost Face Coin. The "face" is actually the characters "Gui Lian Qian." David Hartill notes, "They have been found in areas to the south of the Yellow River corresponding to the State of Chu in the Warring States period. One hoard was of some 16,000 pieces. Their weight is very variable, and their alloy often contains a high proportion of lead."
CH93036. Bronze cowrie, Hartill 1.4, Schjoth 15-17, Fisher 4, VF, earthen deposits, holed, weight 2.490 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, c. 476 - 221 B.C.; obverse Gui Lian Qian; reverse plain; $45.00 (39.60)


China, Jin Dynasty, Emperor Shi Zong, 1161 - 1190 A.D.

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Emperor Shizong's reign was the longest and most stable among the Jin dynasty emperors. The Jin were Jurchens and Shizong's predecessor was assisinated by die-hard Jurchen tribesmen who wished to preserve their disappearing culture. Soon after ascending the throne, Shizong ordered translation of Chinese classics into Jurchen. The state began offering jinshi degrees in Jurchen, opened the Jurchen Imperial Academy in the capital, and opened Jurchen schools across the empire. Shizong required that, when dealing with Jurchen speakers, government officials respond in Jurchen. In 1174, the imperial guards were told to learn Jurchen, and not to speak in Chinese. In 1188, he prohibited Jurchens from wearing Han Chinese clothes. He was, however, a believer in both Buddhism and Taoism.Shizong_of_Jin
CH89238. Bronze 1 cash, Hartill 18.48, Schjoth 1090, Fisher 1644, VF, dark patina, light deposits, weight 3.700 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 0o, 1178 - 1189 A.D.; obverse Da Ding Tong Bao; reverse You below hole, two strokes in middle of You; scarce; $40.00 (35.20)




  



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REFERENCES|

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Catalog current as of Monday, October 21, 2019.
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