Author Topic: China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733  (Read 469 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733
« on: January 20, 2020, 05:52:03 AM »
Of brass although looks like copper.    Diameter 27.5mm, weight 6.33g which is well above the proper amount.   Regulation target was 5.22g. and then reduced the following year.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2020, 04:56:08 PM »
I am intrigued and puzzled and lost in weight standards.

Hartill mentions two weight standards (22.176 and 22.177), 1.4 and 1.2 qian. He calls the former "normal". Nothing about heavier coins. Peng Xinwei (756) says: After yongzheng 11 (1733) the weight of the coins was reduced to 0.12 ounce. (3.4 gram) It is not clear if this applies to all coins or only the mint of Anhui, discussed in the preceding sentence. Nothing about heavy coins either. I do note that your coin is practically double the weight of the "light" standard, opening the possibility that it is a double cash, but AFAIK, multiple cash coins were adopted only some 20 years later under Xianfeng and even at that time, the lowest multiple was 4 cash (Peng Xinwei 759).

Speculating now, I wonder if your coin could be a mother cash. I would not expect these to be worn, but I have read that some apparently escaped into circulation and were used as circulating coin.

In theory, you could probably come up with an error, where the mould was made deeper than intended. I strongly suspect that there was some kind of control system in place to prevent this. However, Sichuan was a rough frontier area and its mint was opened only in 1732 (Hartill 294). Staff may have lacked expertise.

It is difficult to believe that this is a non-Chinese imitation, as I would expect them to be lighter than the real thing. However, I can imagine a (later?) imitation for religious or decorative purposes.

So what are we looking at?

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

Offline bgriff99

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Re: China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2020, 02:01:23 AM »
Mother cash were made of tin, or lead.   Tin was preferred as it was less likely to sink into the mold from its own weight.   The process was sand casting, but not with sand.   Crushed sifted mud brick was used, with other ingredients to make it adhere to itself properly but not stick to the coins    Weight of the coins was controlled by weight of the mother cash, each one precisely trimmed and weighed on a scale.   Variability of finished coins resulted from inexact ability to close and bind the mold trays together with perfect pressure.   If too loose, or if the mold tray bundles were jostled too much, the coins came out slightly too thick.   

Weight standards were given in qian (same unit as mace) which is 3.73grams.   The standard at the beginning of Yong Zheng was 1.40 qian.   In 1734 it was reduced to 1.20.   That is an unusually big change at one time, although there was warning it was coming, so some mints incrementally reduced weights starting a year ahead.   Not Sichuan.   Obviously such a weight reduction causes the old coins to be driven from, or recalled from circulation.

Regarding "0.12 ounce" that is the Chinese ounce, the liang (same as tael) of 37.3 grams.   The standard of 1.20 qian lasted until 1852, but with multiple actual  breaches below that in the interim.   Generally, cash coins are found averaging slightly under official weight, with a good +/- 10% variability.   Some mints 20%.

Also during Yong Zheng, and many other times, some lower weight cash were deliberately produced for alternate purposes, such as export to a part of China using lighter cash, or to Vietnam.    This Sichuan production was small and at that time for local use only.   This particular coin turned up in a bulk lot originating in Indonesia.   Such a heavy cashpiece as this would not escape the melting pot, in China, very long.  It escaped notice of the dealers handling it because it resembles those of the Board of Revenue.   

I have another piece of the 1733 pattern but with diameter reduced by lathe, as if clipped.   The weight is properly lowered but diameter is still too much for even 1734 or any later time.   So I think the trimming was done at the mint to its stock of unissued cash.   The 1732 pattern is rare enough that I've never seen one.   The reduced weight Sichuan issue of 1734-35 is also rare.    I have one but it's kind of ugly with blotchy patina.   
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 02:12:23 AM by bgriff99 »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2020, 08:38:56 AM »
Weights are clear now and this is evidently not a mother cash. Thank you. I didn't believe the multiple cash option myself, but mentioned it for the sake of completeness. The status of your coin less clear.

Error from a mould that had gone too deep remains an option, especially in view of I have another piece of the 1733 pattern but with diameter reduced by lathe, as if clipped.. Apparently, it was considered done to keep pieces that were too heavy and file them down. Actually this is a fun indication that either the price of human labour was less than the price of firewood/re-melting or the mint was overstaffed, so the marginal cost of filing was practically zero.

You don't seem to like the religious/decorative imitation option, but aren't your remarks This particular coin turned up in a bulk lot originating in Indonesia. Such a heavy cash piece as this would not escape the melting pot in China, very long. indications that this is a viable option?

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

Offline bgriff99

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Re: China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2020, 10:26:08 AM »
This is an ordinary circulation coin produced in the ordinary way.   Once the regulation weight was reduced, newly made cash still in the treasury would have been cut down to comply.   It would have used the mint's lathe but cut them in small bunches, and with force, to a lesser diameter.   The piece I have is 26.5mm, where the originals range from 27-28mm.    They would not have been individually weighed at that point, as new cash were not individually weighed.   Labor was cheap.   The trimming of already-made cash would have paid for the labor with metal to make more of them.   It might have paid to melt all of them back down, but you can imagine the sunk-cost reluctance to do that.

It is also possible the heavy coin was made from a slightly too-heavy mother coin.   Each one was adjusted in diameter to get within a weight range, but there was a limit how far below full flan width was permitted.    They would use a slightly overweight mother coin rather than discard it.   My heavy coin is imperfectly round, but averages near the minimum flan diameter.    Such inverse relation of weight to diameter is normal.

My reduced diameter piece weighs 1.15 qian, but is still more than 1mm broader than the new patterns.  It has slightly and equally upturned edges on both sides, which is not the result of being cast that way.   Even clipped coins do not usually show that.

Offline Rinhen

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Re: China, Qing Dynasty, Yong Zheng, Sichuan mint 1733
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2020, 11:35:23 PM »
Yongzhen Sichuan mint is one of the rare mints (the rarest is Hunan mint), therefore many replicas. I have some doubts, due to the pitting On the obverse and softness of the  mintmarks on the reverse.