According to an article published in today’s Liaoning Daily (辽宁日报), the local police have arrested a gang of thieves who unearthed more than 2,200 rare coins dating from the Later Jin (后金) Dynasty (1616-1636 AD).
According to the report, the Bureau of Public Security of Liaoyang City (辽阳市) has arrested three men suspected of the theft and is presently looking for additional members of the gang.
Mr. Wu, the 32-year-old leader of the gang, was previously employed as a taxi driver. Last spring, he received word that some ancient Chinese coins had been discovered at a construction site in Liaoyang City. He went to the site everyday with his shovel but in a year’s time was only able to dig up a little more than 300 coins.
In order to find coins more quickly, Mr. Wu in May of this year bought a metal detector and rented a large excavator. He also recruited a few accomplices to form a “treasure digging team” which ultimately unearthed more than 2,200 coins weighing 17 kg (37.4 lbs).
Mr. Wu sold the coins for $101,700 (650,000 元).
Not long after, however, the buyer of the coins was arrested. He confessed and implicated Mr. Wu who was then arrested.
According to the cultural relics experts involved in the case, all the coins unearthed by the thieves have inscriptions written in the Manchu script (满文). The coins are from the Later Jin Dynasty (后金) which existed during the years 1616-1636 just prior to the Manchus conquering all of China and establishing the Qing Dynasty (清朝 1644-1911).
Unfortunately, no images of the coins were published in the newspaper article.
However, the coins are said to be special in that they were not used for general circulation. The experts believe that these coins may have been used by Nurhachi (努尔哈赤), the leader of the Manchus (满族), to reward his generals for meritorious achievements.
For this reason, the coins are considered to be very rare and the experts estimate that the market value for these Later Jin Dynasty coins (后金币) is at least $470,000 (3,000,000 元).