Started by Coinsforever, October 21, 2010, 05:31:31 AM

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Board of Revenue Mint, Beijing, China
Qing dynasty, around AD 1905

How Chinese coins were cast in moulds

Until the 1880s, all Chinese coins were cast in moulds, while in Europe striking coins using coin dies was more common.

Specially-made master coins and master moulds were used to make impressions in the moulds. The moulds were stacked up and molten metal was poured in. When the metal had cooled, the moulds were broken open and the coins were removed.

When the moulds were opened, the coins were still attached to the metal that had cooled in the casting gullies. The resemblance to branches at this stage led people to call them 'coin trees'.

The next step was to break all the coins off the branches and to file down the edges. The most effective method was to thread the coins onto a square-sectioned rod and file down the edges of hundreds of coins at a time. Some people believe that this was the reason why Chinese cash coins had a square hole in the middle.

J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector's item.


Trust the BM to get it right and also be extremely careful. I have never heard an alternative explanation for the square holes. The money tree in the picture is a pretty convincing one. There are many more fakes than genuine money trees.

China was of course not the only area to produce cast coins. Vietnam and Korea come to mind immediately. However, the technique illustrates China's historical problem perfectly. When Europeans were hacking silver to little pieces to pay with and putting crosses (for cutting up coins) on hardly readable, badly struck coins, the Chinese were already producing a round, well centered, legible but brittle token coinage with a protective edge around. When Europeans were finally producing round, well centered, legible machine struck token coins with a protective edge around, the Chinese were still making brittle cast coins by hand.

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


i have seen the same from Morocco