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Early Chinese Round Coin, With Round Hole, Zhou Dynasty 403 BC To 378 BC

 
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 Posted 09/24/2022  02:45 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add the_sand to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello CCF. This is my first post on CCF, and my first thread on CCF. However, I've been looking at CCF ancients/medieval threads for years (a dreaded "lurker" or "watcher in the water"), and I've been a CCF member since January of this year (a "fly on the wall" I like to call it).
Here is my example, of one of the earliest Chinese round coins.
Much of the following information, is from the book "The First Round Coins Of China" by Gratzer & Fishman published in 2017 (henceforth called "Gratzer & Fishman" or "G&F"). G&F is, in my opinion, the best English language book on the early round coins of China. It has excellent information, and many color photos of coins.
Note that, all metal Chinese coins were cast, not struck, until 1889 AD, with the exception of the Chu gold block money from 400 BC to 220 BC. (Hartill page 79) (That's the only exception that I know. Are there other exceptions?)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancie...coinage#Gold
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ying_Yuan
Before circa 403 BC, Chinese coins were not round. The non-round Chinese coins included cowrie shells (as early as circa 1400 BC), imitations of cowrie shells made of bone, stone, bronze, and gold (as early as circa 1300 BC), spade coins (as early as circa 1200 BC), knife coins (as early as circa 700 BC), and "ghost face" (also called "ant nose") bronze (alloyed with lead) imitations of cowrie shells inscribed with Chinese characters (as early as 600 BC). (G&F pages ii to iv)
An interesting question : Which of the pre-403 BC non-round Chinese coins, should be called "coins", rather than "money"? However, I won't try to figure that out, in this post.
The earliest Chinese round coins were cast circa 403 BC, during the Zhou Dynasty, during the "Warring States Period". (G&F pages 1 through 59) This was when, the Zhou Dynasty had lost most of its control over its various states, which then fought against each other.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_dynasty
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warri...tates_period
Almost all of the earliest Chinese round coins, had a round hole in the center of the coin, rather than the square hole that most of the later Chinese round coins had.
The only 2 possible exceptions to this "round hole rule", are 2 exceedingly rare coin types, which have square holes : type G&F A6.3 (G&F page 17) and type G&F A11.15 (G&F page 59). Both of these possible exceptions, have not been accurately dated, and could date as far back as circa 403 BC, or as recently as circa 225 BC and 221 BC respectively. (G&F pages 17 and 59)
The earliest Chinese round coins were cast, before the first "Ban Liang" coins. The "Ban Liang" coins were round coins, usually with a square hole (sometimes with a round hole), which were cast by the Qin state, as early as circa 378 BC. (G&F page 72) By 221 BC, the Qin state had conquered all of the other warring states, and the Qin state became the Qin Dynasty. After that, the Ban Liang coins became the only legal coinage of China (G&F page viii), until the Western Han Dynasty began casting other types of square hole coins in 206 BC (while also continuing to cast Ban Liang coins). (Hartill pages 83 to 85)
All of the types of the earliest Chinese round coins are either rare, very rare, extremely rare, or exceedingly rare. (G&F pages 1 through 59) My example is of the only type (G&F A6.4), which is merely rare. (G&F pages 17 to 19)
Unfortunately, there are many fakes, of the earliest Chinese round coins. For the earliest Chinese round coins, there are many more fake coins than authentic coins. (G&F page xiv)

China. Zhou Dynasty. Warring States Period. Wei (Liang) State. Circa 403 BC To 378 BC. Probably cast in the ancient city Wangyuan (literally meaning "King's city"). Hartill 6.3. Schjoth 73. Gratzer & Fishman A6.4. 38.7 mm. 7.74 grams. Obverse Character Yuan (literally meaning "city"). Reverse blank.

Edited by the_sand
09/24/2022 04:20 am
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 Posted 09/24/2022  04:20 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add John1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
( I'm no pro, it's just my humble opinion )
Searched 6.5 +/- Million Cents Since 1971
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 Posted 09/24/2022  04:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add the_sand to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks John1.
Edited by the_sand
09/24/2022 04:51 am
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 Posted 09/24/2022  06:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thx for the informational first post @the. It may have taken you a little time to get started, but this is a great start. I look forward to seeing more of your collection

For me, the ant noses are the first Chinese coins, but for sure it is open for debate.
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 Posted 09/24/2022  07:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Slerk to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It has always amazed me how people who live outside of China and are not Chinese can be interested in Chinese numismatics, it is full of chaos there. The difficulty is also compounded by ignorance of the language (+ there are many dialects in China). All these kingdoms, emperors, incomprehensible hieroglyphs repel me from immersion in the Chinese world of numismatics. I avoid it like the plague, but sometimes I'm tempted to dig a little deeper and start at least a little understanding of Chinese coins.
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 Posted 09/24/2022  07:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add the_sand to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Spence.
For me, it seems like a matter of personal preference, what to call the pre-403 BC non-round Chinese coins, "coins" versus "money".
The pre-403 BC non-round Chinese coins are certainly important. All of them seem to have been used to purchase things, and as a store of value, and are therefore at least "money". Some seem less coin-like, such as the natural cowrie shells, versus the manufactured cowrie shells. And the later spade money seems more coin-like, than the earlier spade money.
I tend to flip-flop, on all of the pre-403 BC non-round Chinese coins. Sometimes I call them coins. Sometimes I call them money. Sometimes I think of them as coins. Sometimes I think of them as money.
Sometimes, I think, that a "coin" is something, that is approximately round, and approximately flat, and was (or could be) used to purchase things, and was (or could be) used as a store of value. But, my definitions of "approximately round" and "approximately flat" are pretty generous.
Edited by the_sand
09/24/2022 07:43 am
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 Posted 09/24/2022  08:56 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
An interesting question : Which of the pre-403 BC non-round Chinese coins, should be called "coins", rather than "money"? However, I won't try to figure that out, in this post.

Chinese and Greek archaeologists love to argue with each other, about which of their civilizations "invented coinage first". That it seems to have happened at opposite ends of Eurasia effectively simultaneously, and independently of each other, is quite extraordinary, improbable even, but this seems to be the direction the evidence is leaning.

Everyone agrees that it was the Chinese that invented the concept of "money": the creation of specific objects that serve no functional purpose other than as a means of storing and easily transferring wealth from one person to another. These can be traced in China going back to around 2000 BC, well before anybody was using anything resembling "coins".

So the question revolves around the definition of "coin". And it is here that numismatists can assist the debate - we study "coins", so we ought to have a good idea of exactly what a "coin" is. To me, a coin does not need to be round (in which case, the Greeks would be the clear winners) because a large number of modern coins are not round, yet still "coins", and does not need to be struck between dies (in which case, China doesn't strike "coins" until the 1800s). Rather, a "coin" has two essential requirements: that it be made specifically for use as money and that it be made at the command of a recognized government authority - a "national government", for want of a better phrase. Tick those two boxes, and you can call it a "coin", no matter what weird shape it is.

With no question that Chinese proto-coins pass the first question (of being made for use as money), the difficulty arises when one attempts to answer that second question: "Did a government issue it?". Part of the difficulty resides in linguistics, in actually translating the characters recorded on the Chinese proto-coins. Proto-Greek is relatively easy to translate, by comparison; up until the Qin Dynasty's imposition of a uniform written language throughout the Empire, "Chinese script" did not exist, with each region and even each city within a region having it's own unique set of characters, and in some cases the proto-coins themselves are the only surviving evidence of those dialects. Thus, the correct reading of the glyphs on the proto-coins is always going to be debatable.

Right now, I'd say the Chinese are winning the debate; there is passably good evidence that at least some of the proto-coins were definitely produced with inscriptions assigning their creation to specific city-states, implying a governmental authorization of their creation, and that some of these objects were made prior to the earliest Greek coins in the mid-600s BC.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 09/24/2022  09:18 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It has always amazed me how people who live outside of China and are not Chinese can be interested in Chinese numismatics, it is full of chaos there. The difficulty is also compounded by ignorance of the language (+ there are many dialects in China). All these kingdoms, emperors, incomprehensible hieroglyphs repel me from immersion in the Chinese world of numismatics.

I am not Chinese, nor do I have any Chinese family members. Nor can I understand spoken Chinese. I have had a mild interest in Chinese history since being forced to study it in high school, an interest compounded by the relative ease which which one can obtain "old coins from China". My interest in Asian coins, as part of the boarder world coin series, means that, though I can by no means "read Chinese", I have taught myself to recognize enough of the characters used on Chinese and Asian coins to be able to get by. I still can't real the menu at the local Chinese restaurant, though.

I'm interested in Chinese coins, and Chinese history, simply because it is utterly separate from and different to all of the normal conventions when it comes to European history. European history has three main phases: Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern. The "Mediaeval" period was something of a "dark age", clearly inferior in many ways to the time periods that came both before and after. And it lasted a long time - a thousand years.

Chinese history has no such similar "dark age". Sure, there are interruptions of war and chaos, but they are generally brief - rarely more than generation long - and the next civilization to arise was more or less identical to its predecessor. Thus, Chinese history is far more a continuum with occasional blips, rather than two golden ages with a long dark night in between. As far as the coins are concerned, this does mean that China can lay claim to the "longest-lasting coin series in history" - cash coins, whose design remained essentially unchanged for 2000 years... and literally unchanged, during the entire Tang Dynasty period, for almost 300 years. Nowhere in the West, not even Switzerland, can claim an unbroken, unchanging coinage design for even half that time period.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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