Chinese Coins - hei lung kiang province chinese coin

Published: 10th September 2009
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Historically , Chinese money coins were cast in copper, brass or iron. In the mid 1800s, the coins were made of 3 parts copper and 2 parts lead. Cast silver coins were intermittently produced but are significantly rarer. Cast gold coins are also known to exist but are intensely rare.

Chinese money coins originated from the barter of farming tools and rural surpluses. Around 1200 BC, smaller token spades, hoes, and knives started to be used to conduct smaller exchanges with the tokens later softened down to supply real farm implements. These tokens came to be used as media of exchange themselves and were known as spade cash and knife money.

The earlier coins were cast to weight standards in a direct relationship with the denominations, so if you weighted a coin at twelve grams it was nearly certain an one Liang (or 1 Jin) denomination. During the Chin Dynasty, sometime around 250 BC, this changed and be start to see coins issued with denomination marks that bare no relationship to the actual weight of the coin. This is best seen on the Ban liang (1/2 Liang) coins of the state of Jaw which can vary in weight significantly but the earliest enormous diameter issues weigh at least 6 grams (and often significantly more), but the size and weight gradually declined and when they were last issued in the Han Dynasty are commonly seen at 3 grams or maybe less, but still with the Ban Liang denomination on them.

The Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese all cast their own copper cash in the latter part of the second millennium like those employed by China.

The last money coins were struck, not cast, in the reign of the Qing Xuantong Emperor just before the fall of the Empire in 1911. The coin continued to be used unofficially in China till the mid 20th century.

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