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Spade-shaped Coin with Three Holes inscribed "Wang Dayu"

The coin's stem, shoulders, arch, and feet are all rounded. The stem and feet have holes.

Spade-shaped Coin with Three Holes inscribed "Wang Dayu" 

 
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The State of Zhao (403-222 BCE) in the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE)


Overall length 5.5 cm, width 2.9 cm, weight 7g


The coin's stem, shoulders, arch, and feet are all rounded. The stem and feet have holes. One side of the coin is inscribed "Wang Dayu"(王大于), the other side "Twelve Zhu". The coin was issued by the State of Zhao in the middle Warring States period.


The spade-shaped coin with three holes is the most valuable among all pre-Qin coins. Generally, the coin's obverse was cast with a place name and no lines, while the reverse specified its weight, liang for the heavier coin, "12 zhu", which is half a liang, for the lighter one. The stem of the coin is inscribed with "12".


The spade-shaped coin with three holes was the coinage of Zhao in the middle Warring States period. More than twenty place names written on coins of this type have been deciphered, and it has been shown that they refer to dependencies of Zhao. The reverse not only specifies the weight but is also inscribed with the number "12". In addition, according to the inherited relationship between the spade-shaped coin with three holes and the spade-shaped coin with round-foot, the place names on the coin, and the historical records, it is believed the spade-shaped coin with three holes was probably cast in the era of prince Zhang, eldest son of King Wuling of Zhao, who destroyed the State of Zhongshan (414-296 BCE).


According to Eastern Zhou and Qin Civilizations by Li Xueqin, the inscription on the head of the spade-shaped coin with three holes in the Capital Museum has been interpreted as "Wang Kua"(王夸) or "Yu Tai"(玉太) in the Dictionary of Chinese Ancient and Modern Spring Coins written by Qiu Wenming of the United States. "Wang Dayu" is the interpretation of Tang Shifu. In addition, He Linyi also made a study of the place name on the coin in his article Research on a spade-shaped coin inscribed "Wang Kua." His study of the pronunciation of geographical names related to "Wang Kua" and state affiliations in historical documents led him to conclude that "Wang Kua", "Wang Zhu", "Wang Du", and "Qing Du" are all phonetic transliterations of a single place. According to The Book of the State of Yan and the Book of the State of Zhongshan, "Wang Zhu" (recorded in DiLi Zhi as "Wangdu") belonged to Zhongshan, and according to the Basic Annals of the First Emperor of Qin, "Qingdu" belonged to Zhao. The written records can be mutually verified with the viewpoint, which says the spade-shaped coin with three holes is the "latest coin issued by the state of Zhao" in the Warring States period. 



 
 

A Pair of Socketed Coins with Arched Ends Inscribed with the Name of the State "Fei Jin"

Each of these bronze coins has a hollow stem (containing a clay core) and a flat part that is roughly rectangular except for its arched lower end.

A Pair of Socketed Coins with Arched Ends Inscribed with the Name of the State "Fei Jin" 

 
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Height 8.7 cm, width 4.7 cm, weights 20 grams and 20.6 grams


Each of these bronze coins has a hollow stem (containing a clay core) and a flat part that is roughly rectangular except for its arched lower end. The flat part has three raised lines on each face and the inscription "Fei Jin" (𨚓釿), the name of a state. Coins of this type, standardized and finely cast, circulated in and near the Zhou king's capital from the Spring and Autumn period to the early Warring States period, from the 8th to the 5th century BCE. The Grand Chinese Dictionary explains the inscription "Fei" as a place name signifying the capital of Hua, a vassal statelet of the Zhou Dynasty located in the southwest part of today's Yanshi County, Henan Province. 


The socketed coin (kongshoubu) is one of the earliest cast metal coins in China. It imitates the shape of an ancient shovel or a similar tool. Coins of this type were cast and circulated in such agricultural regions or states as Zhou, Jin, Zheng, Wei, etc. of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Kongshoubu have three main shapes: (1) pointed upper and lower corners, (2) flat upper edge, and (3) slanting upper edge. The present pair belongs to type (2).


 
 

Spade-shaped Coin with Arched Feet and the Inscriptions "Shan Yijin"

This spade-shaped coin is cast. It has a flat stem, arched shoulders, and squared-off feet, the feet being connected by an arch, hence its name.

Spade-shaped Coin with Arched Feet and the Inscriptions "Shan Yijin" 

 
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The State of Wei (403-225 BCE) in the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE)


Overall length 5.8 cm, width 3.8 cm, weight 12.8 g


This spade-shaped coin is cast. It has a flat stem, arched shoulders, and squared-off feet, the feet being connected by an arch, hence its name. On one side there is an inscription written upside down and variously interpreted as "Shan Yijin"(陕一釿) or "Yu Yijin"(虞一釿). Both Shan and Yu are ancient place names. Scholars interpret the character Shan as currently a place located in the southwest of Shan County, Sanmenxia City, in Henan Province. 


This coin type was the currency of the State of Wei during the Warring States period. It was the main kind of spade-shaped coin in Wei, and the inscriptions often contained the Chinese character "Jin", the unit of currency. It is, therefore, also called “a spade-shaped coin inscribed Jin."


The spade-shaped coin with arched feet was an early modification of the hollow-stemmed spade-shaped coin. The shape was not standardized, and there is no fixed formula for the content and arrangement of the inscription. The type has two main types of shoulder, flat and round. The inscriptions are sometimes written normally, sometimes written upside down, and sometimes written from the left. On the front face, the inscriptions generally recorded place names and denominations. And there are three main denominations: "Er Jin"(二釿), "Yi Jin"(一釿) and "Ban Jin"(半釿). The other side of the coin is mostly unadorned.


According to the research of ancient numismatists, although the spade-shaped coin with arched feet has three denominations of "Er Jin", "Yi Jin" and "Ban Jin", the systems actually used had only two denominations. At first, they were "Er Jin" and "Yi Jin"; later these gave way to "Yi Jin" and "Ban Jin." The disappearance of "Er Jin" and the emergence of "Ban Jin" were currency reforms driven by the reduced weight of the coins. 


 
 

Huangsong Tongbao Coin

The Huangsong Tongbao coin, with its inscription not marking a reign title, were issued in the first year of Baoyuan reign of Zhao Zhen, Emperor Renzong in Song Dynasty (1038).

Huangsong Tongbao Coin 

 
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Northern Song Dynasty


Diameter: 2.4 cm, weIght: 3.9 g


This finely cast coin has a clear inscription in Jiudiezhuan script. The Huangsong Tongbao coin, with its inscription not marking a reign title, were issued in the first year of Baoyuan reign of Zhao Zhen, Emperor Renzong in Song Dynasty (1038). Many of such coins have been handed down because they have circulated over a long period of time. Most unearthed or handed down items bear inscriptions in regular script or seal script, while the Jiudiezhuan script is quite rare, which usually appear on seals or paper money in Song and Yuan dynasties. It is found on no other coins in the history but Huangsong Tongbao coins. It is generally believed that this coin served as a trial-cast example or an auspicious article for praying for successful casting rather than a currency.



 
 

​Quadrupled Coins Inscribed "Four Coins Equivalent One Jin"

Each of the coin has the form of two coins, one right side up and one upside down, joined at their pointed lower corners.

​Quadrupled Coins Inscribed "Four Coins Equivalent One Jin" 

 
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State of Chu during the final days of the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE)


Total length 9 cm, width 2.1 cm, weight 15 grams


Each of the coin has the form of two coins, one right side up and one upside down, joined at their pointed lower corners. Their small, flat-stemmed, square-shouldered shape is rare. They were cast in two-part molds, and in both of them, the two parts of the mold shifted during casting, so at top and bottom of the coin the two sides are out of register. One end of the coin is inscribed "Four Coins"(四布) while the other is inscribed "Equivalent [of one] Jin " (当釿). Coins of this kind circulated in the Beibi area of the State of Chu during the late Warring States period. Few have ever been unearthed, so these examples are rare and valuable.


During the Warring States period, Chu was the only state that issued coins of cast gold, silver, and copper. For its copper coins, there were two standard types, big and small. The big copper coin displayed the four characters "Shi Currency Jin Equivalent"(旆钱当釿) at the top. Characters at the bottom were interpreted as "Ten Huo"(十货) by previous scholars, while contemporary scholars interpret them as "Seven Dian (七颠)" or "Seven Shen (七慎)". Influenced by the coin shape circulating in central China, the big coin is rectangular and flat-stemmed, with a square shoulder and foot. The little coin is also termed quadrupled coins as related above. Experts believe that the quadrupled coins were a local currency that was cast and circulated in the border counties of the State of Chu after it occupied the Huaihe, Sishui regions and Wuyue regions, thus having a limited circulation.


Why are these coins coupled at the feet? Li Xueqin holds that a half jin could have been easily obtained by breaking the coupling. The broken half weighs 7.5 to 8 grams, and 15 to 16 grams when combined, similar to the "Half Jin" and "One Jin" coins used in the State of Wei. Therefore, the big copper coin, quadrupled coin, and half-quadrupled coin provide three currency values, i.e. two jin, one jin, and half a jin. Chu and Wei shared a border, so these corresponding currency values were favorable to trade and circulation. 


 
 

Daming Baochao Paper Money

The Daming Baochao paper money is made of mulberry bulk paper. The bill, worth 1,000 cash and measuring 36.4 ×22 cm, is the largest Chinese paper money.

Daming Baochao Paper Money 

 
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Ming Dynasty


36.4 ×22 cm


Size: 36.4 ×22 cm


The Daming Baochao paper money is made of mulberry bulk paper. The bill, worth 1,000 cash and measuring 36.4 ×22 cm, is the largest Chinese paper money. There are six characters Daming Tongxing Baochao meaning "Great Ming paper money" on top of the face, two characters Yiguan meaning "1,000 cash" below, and an image of ten strings of copper coins further below, which is flanked by the words "Great Ming paper money" and "to be circulated all over the country". The note below the coin image says, "Great Ming paper money, issued by Ministry of Revenue with approval by the emperor, circulates along with copper cash. Any forger will be decapitated, and the informer will be awarded with 250 taels of silver plus the property of the criminal. Date, the reign of Hongwu." The bill is bordered with dragon and seawater patterns. In the eighth year of the Hongwu reign of Ming Taizu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (1375), a paper money standard was established, accompanied by a paper money bureau and a paper money law. Great Ming paper money, accordingly issued, was inconvertible.



 
 

Daqing Baochao Paper Money

The Daqing Baochao paper money was issued in the third year of Xianfeng (1853). It has various values measured in terms of copper cash.

Daqing Baochao Paper Money 

 
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Qing Dynasty


24 × 13.2 cm


Size: 24 × 13.2 cm


The Daqing Baochao paper money was issued in the third year of Xianfeng (1853). It has various values measured in terms of copper cash. The four characters Daqing Baochao on top of its face means "Great Qing paper money", which are flanked by the words "to be circulated all over the country for fair transaction". On both sides of the square frame in the middle are characters indicating the serial number and the year in which it was made. In the middle is a printed picture of a number of standard copper coins stamped with a seal saying "Great Qing paper money". Below that is a note saying that the paper money could be used in place of copper cash for paying all sorts of taxes, that it was recognized by all tax bureaus outside Beijing, and that two thousand copper cash could be exchanged for a paper bill worth a tael of silver. Imitating Great Ming paper money, the bill is bordered with a dragon pattern with a wavy pattern beneath. It is made of kraft paper, with characters and patterns printed in blue. Such bills were issued from the third to the ninth year of Xianfeng's reign.



 
 

Tianchao Wansui Coin

This is a big copper coin worth ten cash, with characters in a vigorous style. Red rust could be seen.

Tianchao Wansui Coin 

 
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Liao Dynasty


Diameter: 6.2 cm, Weight: 68.1 g


This is a big copper coin worth ten cash, with characters in a vigorous style. Red rust could be seen. The Khitan characters on the obverse read Tianchao wanshun or Tianchao wansui. It used to be in the collection of Zhou Zhaoxiang, a collector of antiques.



 
 

Tongzhi Zhongbao Coin

This coin is a copper prototype, being slightly bigger than coins modeled on it.

Tongzhi Zhongbao Coin 

 
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Qing Dynasty


Diameter: 3.3 cm, weight: 14.8 g


This coin is a copper prototype, being slightly bigger than coins modeled on it. It is made of top-quality copper with a fine workmanship. It has a clear edge and characters with slender but vigorous strokes. The central square hole is not drilled through, only left a round hole in the middle. On the obverse is a regular-script inscription. On the reverse are two Chinese characters meaning ‘equivalent to ten cash above and below the hole and two Manchu words on the left and right. Made by hand, prototype coins (diao mu) were of the highest value among ancient coins.



 
 

Xianchun Yuanbao Coin

The Xianchun Yuanbao coin is a "master coin", a model directly sand-cast from the prototype for mass production of coins.

Xianchun Yuanbao Coin 

 
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Southern Song Dynasty


Diameter: 3.7 cm, Weight: 7.2 g


The Xianchun Yuanbao coin is a "master coin", a model directly sand-cast from the prototype for mass production of coins. Though slightly inferior to the prototype, it is still of an exceptionally high quality in material and workmanship. This coin is made of first-rate copper, with a clear, elegant inscription and a fish-back-shaped edge that give it a high aesthetic value.


Xianchun Yuanbao is the name for coins made in the reign of Xianchun (or Emperor Duzong, 1263~1274) in Southern Song Dynasty, which have three kinds of values, with regular-script inscriptions read vertically and their undersides marked with the years in which they were made (from "the first" to "the eighth"). Since no coins were made from the reign of Emperor Gongdi to the end of Song Dynasty, this was the last kind of square-holed round coins made in the dynasty.



 
 

Xianfeng Yuanbao Coin

The coins have regular-script characters Xianfeng yuanbao on the obverse.

Xianfeng Yuanbao Coin 

 
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Qing Dynasty


Diameter: 6.8 cm, Weight: 78.2 g


The coins have regular-script characters Xianfeng yuanbao on the obverse. On the reverse are the Chinese characters dangqian (equivalent to 1,000 cash) above and below the hole, and the Manchu words baogong on the left and right. In the reign of Xianfeng, common coins were called tongbao, coins worth four to fifty cash zhongbao, and coins worth a hundred cash and above yuanbao, with as many as five grades of value. In the fifth year in the reign of Xianfeng (1855 AD), the mint in Gansu produced seven types of coins with various values, shapes and sizes and widely different weights. These two coins are exquisitely wrought, with elegant inscriptions. They are of high value because the mint had produced very few dangqian coins.



 
 

Yidao Ping Wuqian Coin

This knife-shaped coin is made of bronze and consists of a ring and a "blade".

Yidao Ping Wuqian Coin 

 
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New


Length: 7.2 cm, Weight; 22 g


This knife-shaped coin is made of bronze and consists of a ring and a "blade". The ring is shaped like a round coin with a square hole, with two incised seal characters yidao in gold inlay above and below the hole. There are three molded characters in relief ping wuqian, or "equivalent to five thousand wuzhu coins", on the blade. Together the five characters mean that one knife-shaped coin was worth five thousand wuzhu coins (coins weighing one twenty-fourth of a tael each). This is one of the knife-shaped coins made in 7 AD, or the second year in the reign of Wang Mang, who tried to revive ancient traditions. Wang Mang coins are favored by collectors for their high-quality bronze, unique style of inscriptions and striking shapes.