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Chinese coins

Chinese Burial Money

Chinese Burial Money thumbnail

Beginning in very ancient times, the Chinese included money among the objects buried with the deceased. This burial money was referred to as yi qian (瘗钱), meaning “buried money”, or ming qian (冥钱), meaning “dark money”. The money was to be used by the deceased in the afterlife to make life more comfortable.  It was [...]


Horse in Armour Horse Coins

Horse in Armour Horse Coins thumbnail

Horse coins (ma qian 马钱) originated in China during the Song Dynasty (宋朝 960 – 1279).  They were not used as money, however, but as game pieces. There are a great variety of horse coins.  Some display only a horse while others show both a horse and rider. Some horse coins have inscriptions which identify [...]


‘Kai Yuan Tong Bao’ Clay Mould

‘Kai Yuan Tong Bao’ Clay Mould thumbnail

The world’s only known specimen of a Tang Dynasty clay mould used to cast kai yuan tong bao (开元通宝) coins is now on public display according to Chinese news reports dated January 6, 2015. This very rare clay mould (钱陶范), which is classified as a “national treasure” (国宝级), was unearthed in Shutang on August 17, [...]


Qi Xiang Tong Bao Engraved Mother Coin

Qi Xiang Tong Bao Engraved Mother Coin thumbnail

A very rare qi xiang tong bao (祺祥通宝) engraved mother coin (雕母) was recently auctioned in Beijing. The Qixiang coins were cast for the shortest period of time and in the smallest quantity of any reign of the Qing Dynasty. Upon the death of the Xianfeng Emperor (咸丰帝) in 1861, his young son Zaichun (载淳) [...]

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State of Qi Six Character Knife Money

State of Qi Six Character Knife Money thumbnail

Knife-shaped money (daobi 刀币) was an early form of currency that circulated in the states of Qi (齐国), Yan (燕国) and Zhao (赵国) until the end of the  Warring States Period (战国时代 475 BC – 221 BC). The shape of these “coins” evolved from an ancient bronze scraper knife, known as a xue (削刀), which [...]

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Ancient Chinese Coin Exhibit at the Qi Heritage Museum

Ancient Chinese Coin Exhibit at the Qi Heritage Museum thumbnail

The Qi Heritage Museum (齐文化博物院) is located in Linzi (临淄) in China’s coastal province of Shandong (山东省). Linzi was the capital city of the ancient State of Qi (1046 BC – 221 BC). In celebration of the Qi Culture Festival, there is a new exhibition of ancient Chinese money at the museum.  According to a [...]


Nine-Fold Seal Script Charm

Nine-Fold Seal Script Charm thumbnail

Beginning with the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and extending to the last years of imperial China, government seals were engraved in a very stylized Chinese script known as “nine-fold” seal script. This rounded and convoluted script is both ornate and authoritarian but can be difficult to read by the uninitiated. A few very rare coins cast [...]

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Byzantine Gold Coin Found in Tomb of Emperor Jiemin of Northern Wei thumbnail

Chinese archaeologists recently completed their work excavating an ancient tomb located near Luoyang (洛阳), Henan Province (河南省), according to recent reports in the Chinese press. The archaeologists from the Luoyang Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Artifacts (洛阳市文物考古研究院) can be seen working in the tomb in the image at the left. The archaeologists believe that [...]


Knife Money from State of Qi Unearthed in Shandong

Knife Money from State of Qi Unearthed in Shandong thumbnail

A farmer working in a field in Shandong Province recently unearthed an ancient knife-shaped form of money from the Warring States period (475 BC – 221 BC), according to a Chinese newspaper article published today. Mr. Jia Qingguang (贾清广) was sifting sand at his farm in Liaocheng (聊城市) in China’s eastern province of Shandong when [...]


Stringing Cash Coins

Stringing Cash Coins thumbnail

Arthur Henderson Smith was a famous American missionary who went to China in 1872.  He worked in Shandong Province until the Boxer Rebellion forced him to flee and take refuge at the Legation Quarter in Peking in 1900. Smith wrote several books about China including “Village Life in China” which was published in 1899. The [...]


Cycling Across Imperial China

Cycling Across Imperial China thumbnail

Two Americans decided to take a trip. The year was 1890 and Thomas G. Allen Jr. and William L. Sachtleben had just graduated from my alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. The “ordinary” (“penny-farthing“) bicycle with the very large front wheel and very small back wheel was just beginning to be replaced by the [...]


World’s Largest Copper Coin Sculpture

World’s Largest Copper Coin Sculpture thumbnail

In the year 621 AD, Emperor Gaozu of the newly established Tang Dynasty introduced a new coin with the inscription kai yuan tong bao (開元通寶) which set a standard that lasted for some 1200 years. Although the last kai yuan tong bao coin was cast many centuries ago, a new kai yuan tong bao coin [...]