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Sumatra/ Palembang: a Wan Li tin pitis

Started by bgriff99, October 31, 2015, 07:57:47 PM

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Found in the Musi River near Palembang.   The two scans are to scale.   The original Ming cash were cast 1576-1620.   Inscription is 'Wan Li tung pao'.

Considerable work was done to the official coin to get the size and weight down to the usual pitis range.   The centerframe and reverse rims are gone.  It was a two-stage process, with copies first made to generate mother cash.   Otherwise it is a direct copy (probably not exactly this original).   A lathe was definitely used.

Most pieces of this size copy other bronze Sung copies.    Wan Li cash were the best quality of any Ming likely to be encountered.    It doesn't seem to me that much cachet from that would accrue to 22mm tin pitis, but here it is.    The original looks like a bronze/brass mix, so probably from a southern coastal mint and/or early in the reign.   Very few were exported.   I could be wrong, but all these small tin copies of cash seem to be from a period when the sultanate was not issuing any.


Great fun piece (but I wouldn't trust any story that has "Musi river" in it.)

It think this piece was acceptable in spite of its size and colour because the original was considered auspicious and there weren't enough originals to satisfy demand. Palembang is a river port city, making it a sheltered sea port for shallow draft vessels, sea-going or not. That must have attracted Chinese, sailors, adventurers, fugitives or any combination of the above. They'd hardly be in a position to hunt for auspicious coins, so they would make their own. The well-known small holed coins of Palembang are known to have been produced by Chinese.

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


i have 1 like him TIN CASH Coin, Found in Batanghari Djambi


Welcome to Woc !
Your coin seems to be the smaller version, but with wide rim. Is this the tin version ?
I am not an expert on these. One of the experts may chime in to give their opinions.



This looks like an original Chinese coin.