Author Topic: Coins vs tokens  (Read 6743 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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Re: Coins vs tokens
« Reply #30 on: December 29, 2014, 04:02:06 AM »
Regarding cash coins themselves as fiat money, yes there were endless attempts to overvalue some against others.   Inevitably such pieces were simply discounted in actual use down to what their metal content dictated.
This happened over and over again, century after century, right up to the end of cash coins.    From David Hartill's Qing Cash, page 75:

"During the Tongzhi period, the Board of Revenue mainly cast value ten coins, although some regulation cash were also cast...  Value tens remained the coinage of the capital during the first part of the Guangxu period, although by now they were only counted as being worth two ordinary cash, and they did not circulate outside an area of 40 li from Peking.

1886:  The casting of regulation coins was reintroduced as part of a reform package... but as value tens had been the coinage of Peking for over thirty years, they were still to be cast for another three years.   Their value was officially set at two regulation coins.

1888:  The casting of value tens ceased in accordance with the above.   However, later records indicate that they remained in use among the people and the merchants."

Offline EWC

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Re: Coins vs tokens
« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2014, 10:12:38 AM »

Quote from Peng Xinwei's A Monetary History of China, volume I, 119:

The strangest of Wang Mang's monetary reforms (number 2 of five) was introduced in jianguo 2 (10 AD). This was the Treasury-money system. It comprised five monetary substances, divided into six types and twenty-eight items. The five substances were gold, silver, copper, tortoise and cowry.  The six types and twenty-eight items were Spring-money (six items), Cowry-money (five items), Spade money (ten items), Tortoise treasure (four items), Silver-money (two items) and gold] Are you still reading?

Afraid I am way ahead of you on the reading of this.  If you turn directly to the official Han histories, you will find two alternative accounts of this event – one in the main history, a different one in the Food and Money appendix.  The one you quote from Peng - taken from the main history only - is absurd, and seems to be an invention made soon after his death by his political enemies to mock Mang.  The one in Food and Money makes perfect sense.  It is that those hostile to Mang’s reforms were starting to use alternative money forms to avoid holding his fiat issues.  What Mang did (according to Food and Money) was to fix official prices at which he would buy up the gold etc – offering a sort of official amnesty for people to turn it in – as part of his policy to support his fiat currency.  So there was, it seems, nothing at all absurd about Mang’s actions, which seem much in line with those pursued in the UK and the USA in the 20th century.   I recall when I was young, trading in gold coin was illegal in the UK, and the coin dealer on my local market went to prison for dealing in it.

Peng is a good source in general – but very poor on Wang Mang.  Peng was a right wing ‘Austrian’ on economics of course – following Mises – which of course cut both ways – probably got him murdered by Maoists, but preferred by influential institutions in the USA. 

The rest of your case looks weak to me – a rather selective approach - more like propaganda than fair minded history

Peng speculates that only spade and spring coins circulated, but each of the ten spade coins differed in weight by only one grain from the previous and next one and most people were illiterate. In addition, they use hallmark, rather than official characters for the numbers. That doesn't sound like a grasp of economics or finance to me.

It certainly seems to be true that most of the high value spades were never accepted into circulation – but the reason was most likely the wealthy did not trust them.  The spades were much like modern banknotes – and if you genuinely do not think modern banknotes are good idea – I will send you my address and you can ship yours over (How do you want paying - I have manila, beads, cowries even a tortoiseshell somewhere…….)

Wiki says: Wang died in the battle at the palace (by Du Wu (杜吳)), as did his daughter Princess Huanghuang (the former empress of Han). After Wang died, the crowd fought over the right to have the credit for having killed Wang, and tens of soldiers died in the ensuing fight. Wang's body was cut into pieces, and his head was delivered to the provisional Han capital Wancheng, to be hung on the city wall. However, the angry people took it off the wall and kicked it around, and someone cut his tongue off. It doesn't sound like he was very popular.

Merely evidence that some people disliked him – which nobody is contesting.  He came to power on the back of about half a million petitions for his advancement which seems more relevant.

I see Wang as an early example for Nicolae Ceaușescu: a useful person with good ideas who, with time, turned out to be a crackpot dictator and a danger to everyone around him. He wasn't a romantic "first socialist", but rather a bizarre antihero, immersed in administrative tradition and detached from reality by the time he died.

Mang anticipated many of the social and economic reforms of the 19th and 20th centuries almost 2000 years earlier.  How is that similar to Ceaușescu?  A socialist government official in China called him a ‘first socialist’ early in the 20th century, and a USA government official began what became a huge propaganda exercise against him, especially in American universities during the cold war.  US scholars who took a positive line on Early Confucian economic thought during the cold war found themselves out in the cold (I am thinking especially of Maverick – I contacted his son a while back get get the full details of that matter)

The events of Mang’s reign are complex and fascinating, and should be carefully studied on the basis of the texts and the coins themselves.  So much political propaganda has built up about the matter that its best to avoid sources like Wiki, and Peng.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Coins vs tokens
« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2014, 01:26:09 PM »
I am well aware that history is written by the victors, but that discredits neither Peng nor Wiki. I have the English version of Peng, translated by Kaplan. Your undocumented accusation that the section was inserted later is unkind not only to Peng, but also to Kaplan. As for Wiki, it is on the level of trustworthiness of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, just much bigger. If that's not good enough, nothing is.

I am not sure where you think I said that banknotes are a bad idea. It seems a very strange remark to put in my mouth. Please remain factual and make no personal attacks. They are a very big nono here.

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