大朝鮮 vs 朝鮮 "Great Korea" vs "Korea" (Korea Yr. 505 = 1896, 5 Fun)

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by The Eidolon, Jan 18, 2021.

  1. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    ob copy.jpg
    rev copy.jpg
    Got these two coins at different times and places. As you can see, even though they have the same date and denomination, they are subtly different. The left one says "朝鮮" (Korea) while the right says "大朝鮮" (Great Korea). This would have been just after the Sino-Japanese War (1894-5), so a lot was going on politically as it shifted from being a vassal state of Qing Dynasty China to a falling under Japanese influence.

    Oddly, both types seem to have been minted for multiple overlapping years.
    Korea: Years 502-505 (1893-1896)
    Great Korea: Years 501 and 505 only (1891 and 1896)
    Great Korea: (different variant): Years 504-505 (1895-1896)
    I'm not sure what the difference between the two "Great Korea" types is.
    All three types seem to have been minted for year 505 (1896)

    Anyone able to hazard a guess as to what is going on here, and why the two different names for the country were used? Oddly, the coins are different colors, as if they used different copper alloys. The examples on Numista show a similar color difference.

    Any advice would be most welcome! I know there are a couple Korean coin experts on this forum from time to time. Thanks.
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  3. Muzyck

    Muzyck I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a biscuit today.

  4. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    You are right about politics. China especially yuan Shi kai - well known as fat man on Chinese silver coins strongly opposed such naming.

    Interestingly coins dated 1892 were not released until the following year.

    I have to look up more into the history - it's quite chaotic at best.
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  5. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가

    I know little about these early struck pieces. I'm into South Korean coins (1959-present).

    Primal Trek has information (below) that is somewhat thorough. There is no real reason that I see here as to why there are two version for the country.

    "The ¼ yang (二錢五分) coins were minted during the years 1892-1901.

    Their composition is 75% copper and 25% nickel.

    These coins have a diameter of 20.7 mm and a weight of 4.8 grams.

    Varieties of this coin were produced in certain years and can include differences in the country name ("Great Korea" 大朝鮮, "Korea" 朝鮮, "Daehan" 大韓) and the size of the letters or characters (large characters 大字, small characters 小字).

    From 1892-1897, the ¼ yang coins were struck at the mint in Incheon (仁川典局). The Yongsan mint (龍山典局) produced these coins from 1998-1901

  6. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies. I can't say I'm much clearer as to what's going on than when I started, but the like provided a good summary of what coins were issued.

    My pet theory appears to be wrong. (That the 大朝鮮 = Great Korea designation indicated waning Chinese influence due to the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-5.) Both names appear to have been in use simultaneously, and as early as 1892-1893, before the War had started. The Qing Dynasty was already near collapse at that point, but Korea's name ambiguity does not have been directly caused by that war.

    The monarch of Korea did change title in this period, going from "Monarch" to 'Great Monarch" in 1895 and then "Emperor" in 1897 (source). This is definitely related to the Sino-Japanese war and the loss of Chinese influence on the Korean Peninsula. It all became a moot point when Japanese annexed Korea in 1910.

    Anyway, this period is very interesting to me, but I still have a lot to learn.
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  7. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가

    My theory is this: The people operating the presses at the Chosun Mints (and later "Tae Han Empire" post 1897) simply had different hubs and dies laying around that had different "demonyms" marked into them (one saying "Korea" others saying "Great Korea") and just alternatingly used them until they wore out.

    Just a theory.
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  8. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    I have a Korean Coin that my father left me. I haven't gotten into photographing my coins yet. The coin has a 100 on the "face" of the coin. I know you can't tell anything about the Korean coins, but is there a source that I can look at to find information about the coin. I doubt it is real old. My father was in the Korean War and he went back to South Korea about 1958-59. I would like to know something about the coin. I have many other coins that my father picked up in the area around Australia and other countries in that area. He also picked up quite a few foreign coins in Europe. Is there a book that is a good resource that I could understand. Thanks, guys.
  9. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    It's probably a modern 100 won or a slightly older 100 hwan.
    Here's a Numista search for issuer: South Korea and keyword "100"
    Do you see your coin there?
    I've swiped the photos for your convenience below
    100 hwan (1959) - less common, but about when your dad would have been there
    100 hwan.jpeg
    100 won (1970-1982) - very common 100 won.jpeg

    Numista is a very good free online starting point once you learn how to customize the search parameters. A 1900s coin catalog is good too, but maybe easiest to start with something free!
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  10. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가

    The 100-Hwan (top image) had a mintage at the Philadelphia Mint of 50 million pieces and was minted in 1959 and 1960 there, although the date uses the Korean Era (Dangun giwon) dating system. However, they were melted (315 metric tons of them out of a total of 337 metric tons) and used to make the coin you see on the bottom! After melting them, this left, according to my calculations, just over 3 million 100-Hwan coins unmelted.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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  11. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    There is a book that was issued by the Bank of Korea back in 1970s which covers this.

    Back in mid 1800s where various mints were setup to rip the public - what the temporary mints did were to pull good quality copper coins and recast them as cheap brass coins. The public had serious issue trusting circulating coinage and the Emperor was well aware of this.

    Silver cast of such coins were made in 1883 but this was immediately pulled from circulation. In 1886, the Emperor requested assistance from a German mintmaster (can't remember the name) and some pattern coins were made. In 1888, 3 different coins were attempted to circulate - these had production issues and were not popular.

    I believe the German mintmaster requested assistance to Osaka Mint. Osaka Mint sent mint personels, equipment and even planchets to Incheon. All planchets are the same except the 1 fun coin which had extra aluminum to make it look yellow.

    Korean 5 fun

    Japan 1 sen

    You can see the resemblance.

    Production started in December 1892 and these coins were not even released until 1894 (if I remember correctly). While there are still no mintage numbers to be found for these coins, the production target suggested an absurd figure. As of why it took that long to release, I suspect that the mint wanted to ensure that there is a decent supply of coins to be released. Of course like any new operation, there is bound to be challenges. It seemed that production was an issue and this can be seen as there were little silver coinage (1892 5 yang mintage was a mere 19,923)

    Word must have got out that Korea was striking coins under the assistance of the Japanese and of course, China in particular Yuan Shi Kai was not happy with this. Just to keep in mind that Korea was essentially a vassal state of China so any foreign influence was irritating (Probably similar to what's happening to Taiwan?) More information can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_Shikai

    Remember this guy? The well known "Fat Man"

    Thus in the following year in 1893, the decision was to drop off the "Great" in front of Korea. I'm certain there must had been dilemma of what to do with the older coins as the cost of melting them down would have cost a fortune.

    The start of the trouble was in 1894 where a peasant revolution led the Sino-Japanese war. The Chinese were called in but this was probably not a wise decision. This must have allowed the mint to get away with the excuse of "there's better things to worry about". If anything, there seemed to be support for the Japanese to be free from the Chinese which turned out to be quite wrong as seen in history.

    More info can be read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donghak_Peasant_Revolution

    My challenge is to understand why there are so many varieties in 1893 to 1896 especially the 5 fun. For instance why in 1896 there are 3 varieties for 5 fun (Great Korea and without), 1 fun (Great Korea) and 1/4 yang (Korea)

    To complete this set is absurdly difficult


    The fate of the 5 fun coins were either melted down or shipped to China to be sold as scrap, some ended up to be overstruck. From memory, it was again some absurd number - in terms of tons which I worked out to be more than 30+ million (I will try to dig the book out)


    1897 is the year where Korea was declared as the Korean Empire. The Emperor decided to bring the mint closer to the city and thus the Incheon mint closed in 1899 - making the 1899 5 fun the last coin to be struck and one of the rarest.

    In 1905, Korea was a colonial protectorate and in 1910 was completely annexed by Japan. During this brief period of time, all coins were struck in Osaka Mint. After 1910, only Japanese coins were issued.

    Bit of history for just two decades!
  12. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Thanks, @gxseries. I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of information out there on this subject in English, so this is very helpful! Are you fluent in Korean? Looks like there are a lot of interesting types to collect from this period, if one gets lucky. I'll have to keep my eyes open. Older Korean coinage doesn't show up around here much, but when it does, it's often mixed with Chinese or Japanese stuff and priced as junk.
  13. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    Eidolon - I know no Korean. This period of Korean coinage sparks my interest as it reflects the start up of a new currency as well as involvement of Japanese and Germans. The book that I speak of is in English - I think it did cost me a pretty penny but it's well worth the money.

    A type set of this is reasonably achievable if you don't include the 1892 5 yang. 1888 coins are starting to be quite difficult. Example of a prototype type set


    Most of them can be found on ebay. Be aware of counterfeits - even low denomination silver coins are prone to it! I really don't recommend trying to hunt every single coin issued - a lot of the nickel copper coins issued from 1897 to 1901 with the exception of 1898 are quite scarce and are easily in four figures on average!
    masterswimmer and The Eidolon like this.
  14. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

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  15. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    This is great info, exactly what I was hoping to find out, thanks.
    I think that explains what was going on. The "大" (great) was an assertion of sovereignty, as opposed to a vassal status. China objected and Korea had to hold off for a few years, until the Sino-Japanese War resolved the question. Both types of coins were then minted haphazardly at the same time.

    By the way, I think there is a typo in your type set doc. After the gold section, the silver coins are listed as "Au 80%, Cu 20%" instead of Ag/Cu.
    Thanks for the education and the links!
  16. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    I looked at my coin again, and found the numbers 43 are on the same side as the 100. On the other side of the coin, it looks like water lillies or flowers like that.
  17. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가

    Ah, that's not a South Korean coin. That sounds like a Taiwanese 1-Yuan coin.
    Screen Shot 2021-01-21 at 2.11.57 PM.png
    Does it look like this?
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
  18. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer Well-Known Member

    I believe you're correct. It actually appears you, @gxseries might have all the gold/silver periodic table symbols reversed.

    Au is gold
    Ag is silver
  19. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    Good pickup @The Eidolon . Will update. It's perfect timing as I have to add in this


    A pattern tribute coin which you can see the Russian influence.
    The Eidolon likes this.
  20. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    The front of my 100 Yuan coin has the number 43 on the edge of the coin. I looked at a site that has some 100 Yuan coins. I'm assuming that is a part of the year of the coin. I could not find one with the reverse at that site. There was a 44 and 42, but no 43. Without any further information, I will assume the the coin is a Taiwanese 1943 100-YUAN coin.
  21. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Taiwan was still a Japanese colony in 1943. Chinese RoC coins are dated by year of the Republic. Year 43 = 1911 + 43 = 1954. But there was no 100 yuan coin until later. 43 could also be Japan Showa year 43: 1925 + 43 = 1968 (shown below)
    A 100 yen would have 100 and 43 in Western (Arabic) numerals for that year.
    Simplest thing is just to get a cell phone photo of both sides.
    You can borrow this thread if you like, but you'll get more answers in general if you start your own thread.
    showa 43.jpeg
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