Vietnam: 'Sung sheng yuan pao', lead private cash

Started by bgriff99, October 25, 2015, 03:49:39 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

bgriff99

This piece apparently copies the Northern Sung inscriptions 'Sung Yuan' (960AD) and 'Sheng Sung' (1101AD).   It is from Vietnam, made of lead or pewter, and listed as fairly common in the newest terui-sen book from Japan.   It shows no others of this style.   So far as I know this inscription exists uniquely on this coin.   Its style is also unusual.   It resembles (only) that used on Vietnamese Tran Dynasty cash of 1273-78, which are very rare (see Barker 15.2 and 16.1).   Much of the patina was scraped off to make the coin legible, but it can be seen how thick it was. 

The top character is in regular script, the rest in seal script.   Yes the character 'sheng' is pretty exotic.   It would make a perfect group naming coin if there were any other kinds.   Diameter 22.8mm.   Weight 3.75g.    In Vietnamese:  'Tong Thanh nguyen bao.'

Figleaf

The impression I am getting is that the die engraver could write, but not as well as he thought he did. He threw together some characters he thought he knew, maybe from memory, not realising that the characters would be closely scrutinised after all a couple of centuries later.

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

bgriff99

The inscription appears to be copied from the 'Sheng Sung', which would have been in circulation.    The two characters are reversed to fit them better into the spaces on a coin.    Sheng is not correctly composed, but is a credible novel embellishment.   'Yuan' looks muddled, but that could be from the casting.

The coin so much resembles two dynastic Tran cash that I think it might have been executed by the same coiner.   Perhaps the similar reddish-brown patinas are fooling me.   There may still be an intended message.   The Yuan Dynasty began in 1280.   A coin of or for Sung fugitives?   

While Tran cash are much admired, there is no getting around the extreme rarity of Vietnamese official cash over some three centuries.   It is not just about age.   Some earlier ones are still quite common.    The first 200 years of that can be attributed to the massive export of Sung cash.   By the late 1200's that was long over.   There simply may have been an expedient of using lead cash, just as during the same period iron cash were used in China.    Most of the more aged lead cash from Vietnam are direct copies of common Chinese types.    This one has a lot more story behind it.

Figleaf

Quote from: bgriff99 on October 25, 2015, 06:54:04 PM
There may still be an intended message.   The Yuan Dynasty began in 1280.   A coin of or for Sung fugitives?

An attractive theory. It may also explain the reversed characters. In a number of cultures, an upside down symbol has a negative connotation, such as danger or emergency or just something being amiss. During the "Englandspiel", one of the first captured agents, a telegraphist, tried to warn London by reversing characters when he was forced to send messages asking for reinforcements. The message was not picked up and many more agents were sent to their death.

Quote from: bgriff99 on October 25, 2015, 06:54:04 PM
This one has a lot more story behind it.

It does indeed, but it's so difficult to out the story.

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

bgriff99

Quote from: Figleaf on October 25, 2015, 07:32:54 PM

It does indeed, but it's so difficult to out the story.

Peter
In 1279 the remnant of the Sung court and army was trying to escape to Champa, to the south of Vietnam.   Most did not make it, but some did.    Vietnam had nominally accepted the Mongols as rulers of China since 1265, but would not submit to repeated demands for royal hostages and the king himself to go pay homage to Kubilai.   The Sung were not welcome at the Tran court as it would have invited instant invasion.

The Mongols invaded Champa by sea in 1281, over issues with its ruler beside taking in Sung refugees, which in any case included no surviving emperor or even prince.    For a subsequent expedition they demanded passage across Vietnamese territory, but were resisted in Tonkin, and then badly defeated.    This coin might be an issue in Champa (as were comparable ones by Ming refugees 400 years later).   Or done in Tonkin as a show of common cause with the Sung, around 1280-87.   One would not suspect that if other random reign titles also were known.

bgriff99

Quick update on this....  a bunch of this type with assorted inscriptions has recently been posted at ZENO.   Taken together they pretty clearly imitate some Nguyen region brass cash, issued in plenitude around 1700.  They are digging them up.

Second, there is also one with this inscription, but a different style, more like ordinary clerk script N. Sung.   So that isn't unique either. 

Figleaf

New finds make sense, now that Vietnam is getting rid of unexploded ordnance. With so few coins known, the finds may yet change history.

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