China, Kang Hsi Yunnan large early type 1667-70

Started by bgriff99, September 29, 2015, 07:52:46 AM

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Cast at the provincial capital Kunming, then called Yunnan-fu.   The reverse shows the Chinese "yun" at right, and Manchu at left.   The word means clouds or fog.   "Yun Nan" means clouds-south.   All provinces' names mean such things as mountains-west (Shansi), canal-south (Honan), great-river (Chekiang), four rivers (Szechuan), etc.

The type was cast 1667-70.   It has four distinct varieties, not big differences but enough to readily distinguish.   They are arranged in Werner Burger's year chart.   Not necessarily correctly but probably do represent the four years, and the arrangement fits the circumstances.   The type is somewhat scarce.   I picked this up recently from Lindascoins, as one of the two years I didn't have, 1669

Regulation composition was 70% copper, 30% zinc.   Regulation weight 1.4 mace (5.22g), with actual weight 4.5g slightly above 1.2 mace.   Diameter 27mm.   It has a single sprue at 3 o'clock on the obverse.   Probably cast in a single row on each side of the casting channel.   They are always found well made.   Casting was ordered to start, and then stop in tandem at all provinces in these years.   Closure was because they were not making the expected profit.   


I am still digesting the idea that cash coins may be attributed to a limited number of years. Unless you have contemporary evidence, it seems like a very speculative process and this coin is a good illustration. Four varieties and four years, so why not, each variety is an indication of the (Chinese) year in which they are struck, but which comes first? It's hard to imagine mules that would give you an indication of their order, since the mother coins contained two sides...

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


Changing patterns by year was customary but not the complete story.   They were typically changed twice per year, sometimes more, sometimes less.    The coins tell their own stories.    At the period of this coin they would typically be changed a small amount for the spring and fall casting seasons, then more between years.   Burger applied his system across the board whether evidence supported it or not.   In a four year bracket such clues as are offered are used.   First issue year just one month?   Reported delays in gathering metal?   Shortages before being permitted to close down?  Plus comparisons to prior and following styles and those of other mints.   Burger had upward of a hundred pieces to figure out what was what in this 4 year well-documented bracket.    I have never encountered them in bulk.   His second year is the only common one.