Author Topic: Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash  (Read 1395 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash
« on: February 18, 2015, 02:13:00 AM »
This is the naming coin of the most common of all groups of private Vietnamese cash.   Barker discusses their possible origins.   The majority are commercially issued for local trade.    Scott Semans made a point of referring to them as "merchant cash", as opposed to all the fanciful attributions to obscure rebels made in Toda.

I continue to use that term for them.   Metal analysis indicates northern Vietnam copper.   The Yunnan-Szechuan copper belt extends down into Tonkin.   It has a recognizable signature of almost zero iron, but high arsenic, cadmium, antimony, and bismuth.    They do not have added zinc.    Historians agree that Tonkin copper was never exported as a bulk commodity.   The coins however were exported.    A current Vietnamese authority assigns the whole enormous issue of them to a town on the Cambodian border not even founded until 1674, far from any copper source.    Nothing about the style, quantities found, composition or timeframe of issue matches that.   But he dug some up there.

For the Hanoi-Haiphong region there is ample documentation of such coins being made by a multitude of places, in the 1620's.   They circulated at a fractional value to full sized cash.   

Within this group are multiple mints, and also different origins of the patterns.   There is a great deal of successive recasting.   That is, using one coin as the seed of a new and slightly smaller issue.   The oldest and largest ones are 23mm.   Some of the original patterns are semi-official trade coins.   The typical sizes are 20-22mm, with many flat on the reverse.

This An Phap piece is my only one.   Diameter 20.5mm, weight 1.9g.   The scarcer kinds Barker shows are very hard to snag because everybody wants them.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2015, 03:03:44 AM by bgriff99 »

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 03:01:44 AM »
Thanh Nguyen (Sheng yuan) is one of the most common pieces of this group.   This specimen is the largest and presumably earliest.   Diameter 22.5mm, weight 2.4g.   Subsequent copies became uniface and smaller.   At the tail end of production there is a die struck version.

In Toda, see numbers 30 and 31, which are uniface.   He attributes them to the rebel Ho Qui-ly in 1403.   There are such coins, very rare, see Barker 25.1.   (I have only a fake of it, see Barker page 332.   He says that coin "is not new".   It's from the 1980's.)

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 03:45:29 AM »
Han Nguyen, still from the same style group.   It nominally copies a Chinese coin from 947AD.    In Toda see number 34.   He attributes it to the son of rebel Ho-Qui-ly in 1403, who again does have coins, but a different inscription.   See Barker pp 92-94 for the full story.    See also Barker 123.1 for a brief discussion of this coin.

Diameter 21.8mm, weight 1.85g.   The scan flattens relief.   The writing is deep and sharp, so this piece would be easily usable as a seed coin.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2015, 05:37:08 AM »
These are from a different mint, scarce, "thread characters".   Diameters about 21mm.   There may be other inscriptions I haven't seen.    Yet they try to look like the common kind.    The sum of such observations leads to a conclusion that all of these together circulated for a time as a familiar kind of money.   An Phap group is found all over Vietnam and in Indonesia.   A 22mm size became the standard South China Sea trade cash about 1570, but was replaced again by full sized ones about 1660 with the massive issue of Nagasaki trade cash.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2015, 12:07:48 PM »
It reads like largely unexplored territory, with false leads everywhere. Good to see how metal analysis is helpful. In another thread, you mention there are hundreds of varieties. I suppose they are a vivid illustration of how, to the average East Asian, coins were a metallic shape, not an object in a specific metal with a distinguishing legend. Illiteracy must have been even worse than in Europe as the characters are more complicated and numerous. Even more, when the coins are strung, the characters would be difficult to see. Weight is not too helpful either. The whole system must have floated on trust. Merchants, knowing each other and accepting coins even of third parties.

Long ago, I researched what is known in Korea as "kerb financing". It was basically driven by a professional ring leader, small business owners and housewives, giving credit to each other. Default was very rare. If it did happen, it was considered utterly shameful. Those responsible (including the ring leader) were actively encouraged to commit suicide and helped, if necessary.

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

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Vietnam "An Phap hand" private cash
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 07:10:10 PM »
This area is a numismatic mess, if one expects things to be well understood.   If Barker doesn't come through with a second volume, someone else will eventually pick up the low hanging fruit and do a lower quality work in English.   

Cash coins as a daily money changed as much in any given location as money does now.   It also was subject to fraud and loss of value as happened in the rest of the world in the same time periods.    The An Phap cash are more or less the equivalent of 17th century farthing tokens.