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Vietnam, Mac Dynasty, Vinh Dinh 1547 and some related non-dynastic issues

Started by bgriff99, February 17, 2015, 08:13:24 AM

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Vinh Ding thong bao.    This diminutive coin is tentatively a dynastic piece of the Mac Dynasty, 1547.   Diameter 21mm, wt. 1.3g, Barker 49.1.    It is smaller, and of discontinuous style from previous Mac coins.   At this point in time dynastic Vietnamese coinage had stopped, due to wartime need for copper.    Neither was there any Chinese cash casting.

This is alternately attributed as merely one of a group of 5 private cash, all shown.   One is a Thai Binh, overlooked in Barker's extensive discussion of possible Mac coins issued by the rump of their dynasty at the northern province of Cao Bang.    They held out there from 1592-1677 without issuing dynastic cash (i.e. using their reign titles).   There is documentation of some kind of Thai Binh cash being cast by the Macs, and then copied by the Nguyens early in their own kingdom.    This piece is the only one having any calligraphic connection to the Macs.

While writing about possible Mac at Cao Bang cash, the other three here were shown.   Sung Minh (Barker 56.1), Khai Kien (55.1), and Chinh Nguyen (57.1).   None of those are Mac reign titles, which they did take through 1659.    Barker also mentions the Mac at Ha Tien, implying they are related, but they are not.   The Mac at Ha Tien were Chinese fugitives from the Manchus who settled in Cham territory in 1674.   Their Chinese surname Mo translates into Mac.   It is written differently from the Vietnamese Mac family.


So if I understand you correctly, the first two are possibly Mac, the last three are certainly private.

I am reminded of the discussions on whether certain Indian coins were issued by the state ruler or by the East India Company, where the legend is of little help and circumstances are hazy. In those cases, I have argued that the question is interesting, but the answer doesn't change the coin. The coins are witnesses of strife and misery and that does not depend on who issued them.

So in the end, I am just admiring coins I have never seen before, from a collection that must be mind-boggling.

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


I really can't say what these are.    There is a tendency with Vietnamese cash to blithely go along with what the inscription is as its attribution.   The 'Cheng Lung' tribute/trade cash I posted recently is attributed as a dynastic Ly Dynasty piece (1163-73) by the Vietnamese national museum, which is six ways ridiculous.   Including that the character is written differently on that coin.

The first three pieces here are clearly calligraphically linked.   The bottom two are a bit tenuous.   I didn't make the group up.


Some new information, not really surprising.   Gordian at Zeno has done the analysis of the Vinh Dinh cash.   It is high zinc content brass.   So its issue date must be much later than 1547.    The earliest Vietnamese cash using imported zinc, cast in the Nguyen-controlled region in the south would be around 1680.   
In the north probably later.  It flat out is not dynastic.   As of 1547 zinc was not yet produced in Vietnam, and only a little in China, far away from access to Vietnam (Hunan).    Which shoots down the whole "Mac at Cao Bang" notion for this group.