Author Topic: Korea seed coin  (Read 2337 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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Korea seed coin
« on: November 19, 2014, 02:21:51 AM »
Obverse:  Sang Pyong tong bo, which is not a reign title but just means "ever even currency", used from 1633-1891.   Reverse above is "Hye", attributed by Mandel as for Sonhyechong, the Rice & Cloth Department.    The numeral below is a series number, perhaps indicating years or casting seasons, with the series itself starting in 1828.

Second coin is a regular casting.   It has small differences in all characters, so a new master cash was prepared for its next series number, despite the illogic of economy and uniformity.

Korean seed coins (and many Japanese) were released along with the regular castings, so lucky finds do happen.   Diameters are 25.0 and 23.8 mm.   Weights 4.15 and 4.0 g.

Offline Manzikert

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Re: Korea seed coin
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 10:18:29 AM »
I've managed to acquire half a dozen of these over the years: one is from 'Hojo', the Treasury Department (top image), but curiously enough the other 5 are all from 'Hullyondogam', 'Military Training Command' according to Mandel (example second image).

I think they are probably all 'mother' coins as the rims seem even wider than your 'seed' coin.

The bottom coin, from the 'Hojo' mother, shows just how horrible most Korean coins were.

Alan

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Korea seed coin
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 08:51:53 PM »
Gasp. :applause:

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

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Korea seed coin
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2014, 11:51:08 PM »
Alan,

You've matched a seed exactly to a regular casting, which answers one question as to whether these mother cash may differ, due to post-casting touchup.   The answer is yes.   There is considerable secondary tooling on mine, but it is not at all clear if it was done directly to that coin, or its own mother cash.   It clearly was put to its intended use.   It has no visible rim filing and is on the light side compared to its finished coin.

Regarding the wide rims, there would have been cast more pieces than needed, to account for possible flaws.   Your first picture has a missing metal flaw in the top obverse character, which does not occur in the final coin.   Also a problem in the reverse rim.   Enough to make it a reject for a seed, but not circulation.   I suggest it was sent directly to the finish cash bin without being adjusted for size, or used.    Mother cash were individually adjusted for width before use to make their weights conform to specification.  Slight variance in thickness causes considerable variation in weight.   The casting flaw means it cannot be hand-carved.

Your second piece is flawless, and does indeed not really show evidence of having been cast at all.   It may have been used without rim reduction, or not used due to being underweight.    I don't know what the standard weights were.    My other Korean seed shows heavy edge filing but is the same weight as the first 4.15g.     I also don't know what material was used for the hand carving stage, but it is likely to have been something softer than this, which looks like moderately-leaded brass.

Peter has suggested on another thread that there could have been two generations of casting, in the seed coin making process, to accommodate sequential changing of small features.   Notably on all of these there is a reverse numeral or character which is changed repeatedly on an otherwise static design.   You may have a first generation casting.   With several similar pieces, you may be able to extract some information by comparing weights and inside diameters.  My Korean collection is very small.


Offline Manzikert

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Re: Korea seed coin
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2014, 12:12:53 AM »
When I look more closely at mine I think I have 3 which are crisp enough to be called 'mother' coins whilst the other three are not quite so crisp so might be called 'seed' coins.

I have a total of 75 of the Sang Pyong tong bo of all sorts, and 15 of these are from the 'Hullyondogam' mint, though none of the circulation issues match a mother or seed unfortunately: I attach a list of the types, weights and diameters.

Hojo mother             M: 13.48.4         3.76 gm, 27 mm
Hojo circulation          M: 13.48.4         3.96 gm, 25 mm

Hullyondogam seed       M: 28.4.5            3.73 gm, 25 mm
Hullyondogam seed       M: 28.13A.6         4.29 gm, 25 mm
Hullyondogam mother       M: 28.13A.10         4.19 gm, 25 mm
Hullyondogam seed       M: 28.16.4         4.19 gm, 25 mm
Hullyondogam mother       M: 28.20.5         4.06 gm, 26 mm

Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.3.7            4.00 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.4.4            5.18 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28..5.3            4.91 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.5.4            4.92 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.6.3            3.57 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.11.1         3.24 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.11.5         4.29 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.11.8         3.42 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.13A.7         4.49 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.13A.10         4.19 gm, 25 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.19.3         4.18 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.19.6         4.02 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.20.1         4.18 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.21.2         3.79 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.21.3         3.27 gm, 24 mm
Hullyondogam circulation    M: 28.21.5         3.56 gm, 24 mm

Unfortunately I haven't recorded the inside diameters: a project for the future perhaps.

I think the quality control in the Korean mints was so much poorer than China or Japan, so that minor flaws such as on the Hojo mother would not be of great concern: if you look at the circulation one it has a similar flaw at the top left of the box element of the character which could be from the mother or seed coin (though most likely the final casting). The flaw on the reverse edge would just disappear when the circulation coins were filed to remove the 'flash' from the casting.

According to Mandel the weight was supposed to be 4 grams for the 1752 issues (the Hullyondogam issues above) but mine vary from 3.27-5.18: the mother/ seed ones are better controlled.

Alan


Offline bgriff99

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Re: Korea seed coin
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2014, 03:48:19 AM »
Thanks for the new info, Alan.   The Hojo seed is somewhat underweight to have been used, even at its full 27mm.   The seed I showed does have a comparably sized flaw.   It's the regional final casting work that is not very good.   The mother cash are excellent.   Some of the finish pieces look like a thumb was in the impression to set the seed in the tray.    At the least, the central treasury would have provided master coins to the mints to make seed coins, if not the entirety of the seed cash needed.   I had not thought that through.   They also did not need to be carving every new piece for every mint, series, and series numeral.

The carved pieces and perhaps even a first generation of casting need not have been released to circulation, being the equivalent of master dies, and afterward  archive items.   Also they would be of a material specifically for carving.   Tin sheet was the norm for directly engraved mother cash.   For master cash ivory is reported to have been used in China.      Cast seed coins would be of an alloy specifically for getting sharp impressions, which generally means more tin.   The majority of brass Chinese "master cash" seen in books and auctions are fakes.   Brass of some kind was definitely used for some large master cash in China, but that requires machine tooling.   Your second piece, unlike mine, shows original tooling and it is by linear scraping (as opposed to rotary work as on the Canh Thinh recently posted.)    There are soft mixtures of copper, lead and tin which might have been used.   

The second seed you show, although at 26 mm, is at the low end of acceptable weight, whether of a first or second generation, and so would have been used at that diameter.

You have two seeds of the type 28.13A, one of which you suspect is a master cash.   Those would be worth a close comparison to see if the design had been changed at all, and to compare interior dimensions.   Also the circulation piece 28.20.1 to the seed coin 28.20.5.

I'm posting a scan of my only 'Hullyondogam' piece.   Lest anyone doubt your comment about poor quality control.   The reverse is not very much worn, so the obverse was mostly cast like that.   The extension at the top is the sprue.   Weight 4.2 g, diameter 23.5mm.

 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 03:58:46 AM by bgriff99 »