World of Coins

Medieval and cash coins => Cash type coins => Topic started by: bgriff99 on January 12, 2015, 01:13:29 PM

Title: Shan Lung and Chia Ching, BOR, 1798 compared
Post by: bgriff99 on January 12, 2015, 01:13:29 PM
Third year of Chia Ching, 1798 Shan Lung and regular cash, both north branch of Board of Revenue.
Title: Re: Shan Lung and Chia Ching, BOR, 1798 compared
Post by: Figleaf on January 13, 2015, 01:21:20 PM
What do I do with this, Bruce? Sure, different emperors, same reverses, similar style, but a different top of the right character (t'ung).

Title: Re: Shan Lung and Chia Ching, BOR, 1798 compared
Post by: bgriff99 on January 14, 2015, 04:22:41 AM
I'm just casting about for subjects that might spark some discussion.
Title: Re: Shan Lung and Chia Ching, BOR, 1798 compared
Post by: Figleaf on January 14, 2015, 04:03:20 PM
I don't have your resources. What I see are two coins from two emperors. Leaving top and bottom characters aside, I see three characters as the same (left and mint) and one different (right). The difference in the right character is subtle (top of character), but you have sensitised me to such subtle differences. Also, the difference is notable in context:

At first sight, the sameness is the strangest. When the new emperor ascended the throne, there was an urgent need for new coins. I am assuming the new mothers could not be prepared in advance (maybe the emperor's reign name would not be known until he was enthroned). Still, the change could be prepared by creating a grandmother with only the name of the emperor left blank. As the name became known, two new characters needed to be engraved. If you are a control freak (Chinese mandarins usually are), you want something to recognise the transitional coins by. You make a small change to t'ung and presto!

What baffles me is the character pao, though. To achieve such sameness, you cannot trust the engraver's hand. You need a mechanical process. Here is how I imagine that process. The key is that the BOR (North) does not use the grandmother that produces all the mothers, because it is holed up somewhere in an unspeakable bureaucracy and it would be bad luck to think of the emperor's death, even when it's imminent, so the grandmother is not released. I imagine the BOR using its mother. It is used to make a pretty good child. The child is handed to an artisan, who fills the characters of the name of the emperor to turn them into a big blob and makes the change on the t'ung character. When the new name is known, he turns the blob into the new characters. This piece is used to make a new mother, with no trace of filing left.

There are problems with the above scenario. One is that it assumes all (grand)mothers are cast. It would have been easier to work with a technique that produces alternative incuse and relief characters. You could just file the old characters away, produce an incuse and sink the new characters. Another is that it produces just one seed coin. A third is that it may be over-interpreting innocent similarities.

Comments? Bruce? Anyone?

Title: Re: Shan Lung and Chia Ching, BOR, 1798 compared
Post by: Manzikert on January 14, 2015, 04:46:48 PM
The clues are in the original post: these coins were cast in the same year at the same branch of the Board of Revenue mint, but it was the third year of the new reign title.

Chien Lung had abdicated (or rather retired) in 1796 so as not to reign longer than his grandfather Kang Hsi. This resulted of course in a new coinage for Chia Ching, the lower type, but (again to honour a former emperor, but this time one still alive and holding the reins of power) coins with his old reign title continued to be cast. However, to distinguish these 'posthumous' coins the lower character (lung) was altered so that the lower part of the character resembles the character 'shan' for mountain. The 'Shan Lung' pieces continued to be cast until Chien Lung's death in 1799, so the top coin will presumably be an example of the final year's casting, and the bottom one of the first 'independent' year of Chia Ching's casting.

Is it something like that Bruce?

Title: Re: Shan Lung and Chia Ching, BOR, 1798 compared
Post by: bgriff99 on January 14, 2015, 09:28:26 PM
The 1796 edict for the commemorative issue specified 6 years worth.   It appears to have gone at least 5, maybe 6, but immediately after the old emperor's death the quantity became a small token issue.   Year 5 is quite common for Chia-ching but rare for the Shan-lungs.    There were however too many made in the first year, so it did even out overall perhaps to 20%.    Until May of 1796 there was supposed to be a 50-50 mix, everywhere.   The Board of Works intended to do all of one for half a year, then all the other, so made too many at the outset, and not of the "shan-lung" type either, so they ended up making few Chia-ching cash the first year.

The third year is nice because it matches up well, and has the transitional privy mark move for the north branch.   That is key to figuring out how to connect the different Chia-ching system to the old one.    In the fifth/sixth years' shan-lungs they were completely changed to the new system.

The master cash were all hand cut.   Other than inking the design on the flan first there was no mechanical device used.

I anticipated other questions, such as the obvious:   what does the altered character mean?    Or, if the edict was changed from a 50-50 mix only after 5 months of casting had already taken place, what do those pieces look like, and did any provinces make them?    Hartill only scratches the surface on this subject.   The whole story would take a booklet.