Author Topic: Imperial China, Yuan Dynasty: Emperor Wu Zong 10 Cash, 1310-1311 (Hartill-19.46)  (Read 1528 times)

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Offline Quant.Geek

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Imperial China, Yuan Dynasty: Emperor Wu Zong 10 Cash, 1310-1311 (Hartill-19.46)

Obv: Ta Üen tung baw in Phags-Pa (ꡈꡝ ꡝꡦꡦꡋ ꡉꡟꡃ ꡎꡓ) = 大元通寶 Da Yuan tong bao
Rev: Blank

Note: Phags-Pa is written top-down and hence the whole inscription needs to be rotated 90 degrees clockwise. To mimic this behavior, Unicode encodes the letters rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise...

« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 06:27:42 PM by Quant.Geek »
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Offline Figleaf

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I think the dates should be 1309-1311, basing my assertion on Peng Xinwei [1]. Page 481 says (notes in square brackets are mine):

The fourth stage began with the monetary reform of Emperor Wuzong's zhida 2 (1309), 9th month, when the Zhida Silver Certificates were issued in thirteen denominations, from 1-thousandth to 2-ounces [2]. An ounce's worth of Silver Certificates were equated with 5-strings [3] of Zhiyuan Certificates or 1 ounce of metallic silver, or 0.1 ounces of gold [4]

Simultaneously, two copper coins were minted: the Zhida Circulating Treasure and the Great Yuan Circulating Treasure [5]. The Zhida Circulating Treasure had a Chinese inscription and one cash was equated with a 1-thousandth Silver Certificate. The Great Yuan Circulating Treasure had a Mongolian inscription and each of these was equated with 10 Zhida Circulating Treasure coins (...)

[1] A monetary History of China, by Peng Xinwei, translated by Edward H. Kaplan, ISBN 0-914584-81
[2] of silver
[3] A string is supposed to be 1000 copper cash coins. A lesser number was usual.
[4] This yields a gold/silver ratio of 1:10
[5] Ta Yuan Tong Bao, as on your coin

This text also puts your coin in financial history perspective. At the time it was cast, China was on the silver standard. However, there were no silver coins. There were silver ingots, but Peng notes further down that they could be used for payment only after exchanging them for silver certificates. Similarly, gold was a commodity and a store of value, not a circulating medium. There were actually silver certificates with the same denominations as the coins, but there is no attempt to calibrate their copper value against silver. Nevertheless, the silver certificates connect to the copper coins with a fixed rate of exchange as well as with a weight in silver, thereby making the coins worth a specific weight in silver: yours was worth 1/100th ounce of silver.

Chinese coppers make the monetary system look primitive. Only when considering the silver certificates do you realise how sophisticated it was in reality.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.