Author Topic: China, Sung, iron: Pao Ching tung pao 1225AD, a broken unwritten rule  (Read 1432 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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The first cash issue of the Sung Dynasty was to be in 968.   The reign title at the time was " Kai Pao".   It was deemed unaesthetic to have 'pao' twice in the four character inscription.   Instead was used "Sung Yuan..." , so:  "Sung original circulating treasure."  Very handsome coins, too.

Come 1038 and the reign title "Pao yuan".   Instead was used 'Huang (imperial) Sung'.   Imagine "Pao Yuan yuan pao."

In 1225 the new reign title was Pao Ching.   The dynasty was in distress, barbarians taking territory, money and metal shortages.   Bronze cash were not ordered to be made until the 7th month.   But the outlying provinces were authorized to cast iron coins continuously to meet expenses.   They made "Pao Ching yuan pao" coins, until the central mint noticed, and ordered the inscription to be "Ta (great) Sung."

Kosen Daizen reports value 1, 2, 3 iron coins made, but they and other catalogs show only unit cash and value three's.   Kosen Daizen (1896) also relays that an earlier book reported a bronze value one piece with blank reverse, and shows it.   But it suspiciously looks exactly like their own iron blank reverse coin.

Mine has very faintly on the reverse the character "Han" above, for Han-yang, Hupeh.   It has a downturned crescent below which means value 1.

Weights and sizes; iron 25mm   5.2g.      Bronze 23.5mm  3.8g.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: China, Sung, iron: Pao Ching tung pao 1225AD, a broken unwritten rule
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2015, 11:35:43 AM »
Amazing, that the provincial governors didn't know about this literary hang-up. They would have had to pass their exams, heavy on literature, my understanding is that they were sent from the centre and they would have been at least informed about an emergency coinage. Since I gather from you that all emergency issues presented this issue, maybe the ukase for the emergency coins was drafted prescribing the characters to be used? Maybe it was drafted by a minor civil servant, so that the mandarins could claim ignorance in case there was trouble later?

I remember having read somewhere that the numbers were not values, but reign years, i.e. 1 = 1225 and 3 = 1227.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: China, Sung, iron: Pao Ching tung pao 1225AD, a broken unwritten rule
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2015, 06:56:40 PM »
There was a 187 year gap since the previous instance of "pao" being used in the reign title.   So, imagine today some coinage which broke a "tradition" set in 1827?     That is the actual official explanation.   So much time had passed they just forgot, and then thought about it after the fact.   Schjoth reports the story, despite not having any of the Pao Ching coins, which he seems a bit exasperated about.    I don't know why, but a lot more iron coins have been found in the 20th century than were known before, dug up.   And then in the last 30 years more again.

The reverse "yuan" on the bronze cash is the year of reign.   The moon on the iron piece is a valuation.   They used a moon and star for value 2, and a moon with 2 stars for value three.   On Southern Sung iron cash sometimes there is a numeral for year of reign combined with either a mint name or value mark.    They are less regular about that than the bronze cash.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: China, Sung, iron: Pao Ching tung pao 1225AD, a broken unwritten rule
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2015, 09:31:06 PM »
I believe you, of course, but the argument that the tradition was almost 200 years old sounds rather weak. There are enough older traditions on coins, such as putting a date on a coin (500 years and counting) or picturing each successive ruler looking in a different direction. When Edward VIII wanted to break that tradition, people at the UK mint started looking for a guillotine. :)

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

Offline bgriff99

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Re: China, Sung, iron: Pao Ching tung pao 1225AD, a broken unwritten rule
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2015, 11:09:06 PM »
England is a tradition-ridden place, and the coins in particular had remarkable continuity, up to decimalization.   The switching of portrait direction however is something which is renewed at shorter intervals than 200 years.

Cash coins have numerous ongoing "rules", which are more evident if looking at somewhat shorter time frames.   Such as a mint mark or name not being changed once it is assigned.    Sometimes the rule is invisible.   At the outset of the Ming Dynasty, Nanking was the capital, and the location of the central mints.   Because those coins had a plain reverse, Nanking thereafter never used a mint name all through the Ming.    Extremely rare coins with "jing" are attributed to it, but that is not correct.    Later, when the capital was Beijing, and those coins had blank reverses while others had mint names, Nanking still had a blank reverse, but a different head of 'tung'.

The matter of 'pao' not appearing twice was about aesthetic balance.   Chances are it was avoided in reign titles just on behalf of how it would look on coins.   (A British parallel might be avoidance of naming princes Alfred, Arthur, or even John and Richard.   Best just not set up strangeness.   Charles was even pushing it.)    There is a brief issue from Vietnam with pao used twice, and that from an era of coins being very well turned out.   I think they had a good point.   It just looks badly composed.