Minting of the Chinese cash coins took place for more than two thousand years by many of the rulers who have shaped the history of one of the world’s great civilizations. The cash coins all have easily identifiable legends, and are prepared from the base metals copper, and iron. From the mint names, first used regularly by the T’ang Emperors, we can trace the expansion of China. The size changes of the coins mark the periods when inflation affected the country. Unlike many ancient coins that were struck with dies to form the coin, Chinese cash coins were laboriously hand made by casting, or molding from molten bronze. Several coins were cast simultaneously in a form that resembles a flattened tree. When the molten bronze was poured into the mold it flowed down a central shaft and out along several “branches” to fill the coin-shaped voids of the mold, thus creating the finished tree. After cooling the molds were opened and the coins were cut off of their “sprues”, and then were filed smooth to erase the cut area. Chinese cash coins featuring a square hole were first minted circa 221 BC by Emperor Qin Shi Huang during the Qin Dynasty.
HAN DYNASTY: Wang Mang’s Money (7 - 23 AD) Wang Mang carried out four major reforms of the monetary system with the idea of restoring ancient institutions. He had instituted altogether 37 kinds of money of different substances, patterns and units, especially the “bao huo” system consisting of five substances with six names and 28 units. The disorder of the monetary system was unprecedented in the history of the world, and brought great misery to the people. Obverse: legends; weight: 1.5-3.5grams; Diameter: 20.5-23mm
T’ANG DYNASTY (618 - 907 AD) Emperor Gaozu of the Tang Dynasty abolished the coinage based on a weight of Wu Zhu (five zhu) and began to cast Kai Yuan Tong Bao in the 4th year of Wu De reign. Ever since then, Chinese money no longer named after weight, was called Tong Bao, Yuan Bao or Zhong Bao. The characters punched on the coins were now mostly in Lishu calligraphy instead of in Zhuanshu. Obverse: characters; weight: 2.8-3.5grams; diameter: 23.2-25.2mm
SONG DYNASTY (960 - 1279 AD) The copper coin was still the main form of money during the Song Dynasty, although silver ingots and paper money were gaining increasing importance. The coins of the Song were complicated by the great variety and the vast number of names and titles. Each emperor minted money not only after enthronement but also after each of the frequent changes of imperial title. However, the money now attained a new level of artistic perfection in a variety of calligraphic styles. Obverse: characters; weight: 2.8-4.1grams; diameter: 24-25.5mm
MING DYNASTY (1368 - 1644) After Zhu Yuanzhang ascended the throne, he developed the Hong Wu monetary system. Because of widespread forgery and shortage of bronze, the use of paper money was revived. Over a long period of time, only a small amount of bronze coins were minted. From the first year of Jia Jing reign, paper money fell out of use and the minting of bronze coins resumed. After that every Emperor minted his own coins. Obverse: characters; weight: 2.7-4.2grams; diameter: 23-25.5mm
Q’ING DYNASTY (1636 - 1911) In the Q’ing Dynasty, silver and bronze coins were used as parallel standards. Those with large face value were in silver and those with small value were in bronze. The bronze coins minted during the reigns of Emperors Kang Xi and Qian Long was well shaped and the weights were standardized. Later, small coins kept coming out as the mintage laws became lax and less binding. During the Xian Feng reign, the Taiping Revolution broke out. To meet vast military expenses, various kinds of coins with high face value, from ten to a thousand cash, were minted in a variety of sizes and weights. During the last years of Xian Feng, the Q’ing government was compelled to stop minting big coins. The system of square-holed coins was on the brink of collapse. Obverse: characters; weight: 3.4-4.5grams; diameter: 21-25.5mm
CHINA 5 DYNASTY ALBUM 2000 Years of Chinese Bronze Cash Coins
DATA: Album open measures: 10 13/16” x 7 6/16” Album folded measures: 5 6/16” x 7 6/16"
Coin type and grade may vary somewhat from image
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