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Author Topic: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902  (Read 374 times)

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Offline rgs1978

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French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« on: October 27, 2016, 08:22:37 PM »
Here's my specimen for database.
French Indochina
KM#9
1902
10 Centimes
Silver (0.835)

Offline Figleaf

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Re: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2016, 11:40:20 PM »
Fun coin. There's Barre's signature, a sitting sun goddess, reminiscent of the statue of liberty and a fasces. Also, there are not too many coins with its own weight and fineness.

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

Offline bgriff99

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Re: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 08:28:54 PM »
Peter, you could probably tell us more off the top of your head, but the French piaster was in effect a trade coin, whose value derived from its silver.     In my 1925 Rand McNally world atlas book, values of world currencies are given according to their pre-WW1 values on the international gold standard.    The Indochine piaster is 50 cents US, about its silver value.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 02:17:17 PM »
The piastre de commerce (trade piaster) was declared par to the French franc in 1883. However, it was issued to compete with British silver coins coming from Hong Kong. This is why weight and fineness is mentioned on the coins. It was created to circulate outside French territories. In those days, East Asian money was not convertible in the modern sense on East Asian markets. Rather, coins were converted into another currency by their weight and fineness.

That other currency was the Spanish colonial peso. To complicate matters, those coins went by date and mint. While weight could be easily established, period and mint were - rightly or wrongly - considered to be indicative of fineness. As the Spanish empire crumbled after the Napoleonic wars, the supply of "Calolo dollar" dried up. At the same time, China (unsuccessfully) and Japan (successfully) wanted to create their own supply of big silver coins. The colonial powers also tried to get a piece of the market: the UK Trade Dollar and the US Trade Dollar. The French Piastre fits into that list.

As it was, only the British could keep their trade coin going for a while. The US Trade Dollar didn't work and the Trade Piastre became a locally used coin in French Indo China, easily winning the fight against cash coins. Here's an amusing quote from prof. Régis Antoine*, himself quoting an anonymous French traveller:

...toujours aussi incommode, toujours enfilée en son milieu en lourds chapelets, elle continue á casser de temps en temps son lien pour aller s'éparpiller par terre si bien qu'il faut ramasser l'une après l'autre 600 de ces petites rondelles pour relever seulement la valeur de 18 sous français.

...always quite inconvenient, always strung by a hole in the middle in heavy rosaries, the cords continually break from time to time so that the coins scatter widely on the ground and one must pick up one by one 600 of these small washers for a value of only 18 French sous.

Peter

* L'histoire curieuse des monnaies coloniales, Nantes 1986
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 08:18:12 PM »
In the department of more questions than answers...    the piastre could not be par with one franc, perhaps 5?     The US trade dollar went through altercations of being or not being legal tender for a dollar.   If they were, they could not circulate in the orient based on silver value, being instead exchanged for gold.    The silver price plummeted shortly after it was introduced.    If the piaster became pegged to half a US and Canadian dollar, and exactly one Philippine peso after 1910, when the good silver Mexican peso was at 0.4985 dollar, it seems to have been backed again by gold temporarily but at a miniscule premium to its silver value.

For 600 Vietnamese cash to be equal to 18 sous, does that refer to 5 centimes of a piaster?     Or a franc?    I have yet to see an explanation of exchange rates for the various types of cash.     Vietnamese pieces carried a valuation of 10 for large ones, toward the end of the 19th century.   Before that some carried values of 6 or 7, and large pieces of the 1840's were known to be worth 9 somethings.    Were the units zinc cash, or the tiny worn pieces left in circulation from the 1700's?    As late as the 1920's a few more of that size were being struck.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2017, 10:18:06 PM »
Good point. I was innocently quoting Régis Antoine without checking. Using KM for a quick check, ASW of the French 5 francs piece was 0.7234, so that was indeed the more likely equivalent of the Trade Piaster - and that would have meant a ban on importing and using French Francs in French Indo-China, or else Gresham's law would have driven out Trade Piasters.

The last traditional Mexican pesos (1811-1821) had an ASW of 0.7859. The Trade Piaster has an ASW of 0.7812, the US Trade Dollar has an ASW of 0.7876 (US dollar coins had an ASW of  0.7734) and UK Trade Dollar comes in at 0.7800. If the Chinese had known and believed this, they would have preferred the US Trade Dollar. However, the difference with the other candidates was probably too small to overcome handicaps like lesser name recognition, economic power and trade with China.

All ASW's as close as possible to 1880.

Gold was a commodity in East Asia, not a means of payment. However, colonial trade with the home country was conducted in gold and some gold circulated among the colonists.

Antoine does not date the letter. While sou was a nickname for the decimal 5 centimes pieces, it would be used informally only, e.g. between school children, in shops or cafés. Therefore, my guess is that the quote is pre-revolutionary. I would treat the 600 to 18 rate as a rounded, average local (most likely Saigon, possibly Hai Phong or Da Nang) market rate for reasonable silver coins of any provenance, rather than a rate of exchange.

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

Offline gerard974

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Re: French Indochina - 10 centimes -1902
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2017, 05:14:09 AM »
hello
for the piastres ,one very nice history ,the book is :"le trafic des piastres  " de Jacques Delpuech editions "deux rives" 1958
if you want more explaint for this book please contact me
Best regards  gerard