Author Topic: One of the underrated Chinese coins - Pei Yang coins  (Read 1852 times)

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Offline gxseries

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One of the underrated Chinese coins - Pei Yang coins
« on: August 18, 2012, 05:20:28 PM »
Got hold of this unusual coin -

Note that it's noted in both Chinese and English as well as Manchu script.

This particular coin was one of the more radical coins as it was first introduced in 1896 in terms of denomination. The new denominations were half-10 cents (5 cents), 10 cents, 20 cents, half yuan and one yuan. Silver coins around that era were still issued in terms of mace and candareens. Back then, it was 1 yuan = 7.2 mace. This was so radicial that the public didn't like it and the mint was pretty much forced to reissue coins back in the old weight denomination.

More can be read here: - some guy got really, really lucky!

This is a good addition to my other coins:

I really don't know what makes this coin really appealing but it just draws me in. Maybe you can get as lucky as that guy on the blog.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: One of the underrated Chinese coins - Pei Yang coins
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2012, 04:38:43 PM »
Don't know what draws you in either ;) For me, there are two elements.

The first is how China has abandoned its centuries old system of cast cash, whose value depended on the emperor's command and whose weight was mostly unimportant, adopting a system where silver was money, rather than a tradable luxury good. These coins even acknowledge that there are significant other countries not paying tribute to the emperor by including the symbol of imperial power, the dragon on the coin. Don't think of this too lightly. The Chinese considered itself the kingdom of the centre. The rest was peripheral, if not insignificant. Voyages of discovery that reached the Americas and Africa were stopped, because the discoveries were not considered worthwhile. European and US trade delegations were told they could not have anything of interest apart maybe from some clocks and astronomical instruments. This central tenet of classical Chinese thinking had become ballast. It's like a US coin having a text "maybe we're not the greatest country on earth", an Israeli coin with "maybe we're not god's chosen people" or a British coin saying "maybe we don't rule the waves".

The second is the multilingualism you noted on the coin. Previous coins were solidly Chinese. After the Manchu conquest, Manchu was added, not unlike the use of Persian on Mughal coins. However, China was not conquered by the English or the Americans, nor was it a popular mass tourist destination. So why add English? My guess is that it was not a gesture of political appeasement. The Chinese were not good at that. I think it is the reaction to a fact. The dynamic part of the Chinese economy - trade, manufacturing - was in foreign hands. China had come to depend on foreign traders and investors, occupying the country as much as the colonizers did in India. The emperors were more concerned with conserving Chinese culture, which they thought would secure their exalted position. Wrong. Many of the memorable and domestically popular politicians of the first half of the 20th century (think of Atatürk and Péron and of course Sun Yat Sen) were nationalists - not like soccer hooligans, but striving to get rid of economic imperialism, called "unequal treaties" in Chinese political parlance.

These coins encapsulate the abandonment of the old nationalism and the demise of the emperors, unable to become the centre of the new nationalism.

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