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Boo Joo, Juo on Hsien Feng and Tung Chih

Started by bgriff99, October 05, 2015, 09:26:56 AM

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This is a mystery mint.   Its mint name reads 'j-o-o' on Hsien Feng (1851-61) cash, which have a 23mm size with blank reverse, and 21 mm type with several reverse characters.   In Tung Chih (1862-74), a dot is added making it read 'j-u-o'.    They are fairly obviously from Yunnan or Kweichow.   

Hartill presents a couple possibilities, both in Yunnan Province.   One is Chu-ching (Qujing) which was casting in 1853, but reportedly using 'yun.'   Another is the city cited in the Japanese book Shincho Senpu, Fuchou.   It is in Kuangnan prefecture, which had a temporary mint during Chia Ching.   "Chou" however means district, and is the same chou of Kweichow.   It is just a suffix, of thousands of Chinese cities, and often claimed it simply would not be used for a mint name.   As it had not for Kweichow itself, when 'Gui' was already taken, so the literary name for the province, Chian, was used, transliterated as Kiyan.

I offer a couple overlooked clues.   Kweichow (boo kiyan) cash all but disappear during Tung Chih (Hartill says there are no local issues), then reappear during Kuang Hsu.   The last record from the province regarding cash is 1853.   While boo juo cash of Tung Chih are by no means common, there are fully 34 varieties, by reverse character and symbols.    Kweichow had two mints, one in the Pichieh district, one in Kweiyang, the capital.   They had switched back and forth, and from 1787 both operated.   With provincial casting then starting and stopping several times before getting to Hsien Feng, there is no definite record which it was, or both by that point.   Then the record goes blank.

If the mint was in one or the other at the outset of Hsien Feng, but then the other also was to be opened, it might have been assigned its own mint mark.   Kweiyang city has a literary name of Kueichou.   Both are different words from the province name.   The meaning is 'great venerable walled city.'   During part of the 20th century that was its official name.   Chou in pinyin is zhu, which transliterates well into Manchu j-o-o.   It is an ironclad rule of cash that a mint may change its name between reigns, but never during one.   There are scarce Tung Chih cash with boo kiyan, probably cast only briefly, but long enough to force the continuation of boo joo/juo into Tung Chih, but then permitting it to be changed back in Kuang hsu.    All this requires is that the whole casting had been moved to Pichieh (city of Tating) by 1850, as it had been 1730-59. 


It may help to think of how ambulant a mint was. One extreme is the field mint, as developed  by the Mughal emperors. This was a minting operation that moved along with the army and was protected by it. The other extreme is the modern minting complex, surrounded by a wall with barbed wire, watch towers, guard dogs and what have you.

The less ambulant the mint, the liklier that a structure was assigned to it. In that case, if coinage was required in an area and there was a closed mint in the area, the easiest solution would have been to re-open the mint. However, if mints could be anywhere, a closed mint would have had its structure occupied by something else. The best solution would have been to start a new operation wherever was the best place.

Unsurprisingly, mints moved from ambulant to sedentary through history. Roman mints were ambulant, medieval mints were usually housed in a castle or walled city. A monastery within the walls could quickly become a mint and a mint could become a merchant hall or admiralty. Mints using water power and in the capital were sedentary, those near mines ambulant. Steam and the screw press made minting sedentary, but that wouldn't have happened in China until much later.

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