How to organize Chinese coins (late Qing to Republician)

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by gxseries, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    This is something I have been trying to design my site for a long time. Perhaps a decade and I still can't find something I'm happy with. Hence I'm throwing it out here for some inspiration.

    As you might have seen from the few Chinese coin posting, Chinese numismatic history is incredibly complex and I cannot see anything straight forward.

    Initially I thought of presenting this by various provinces. Qing dynasty coins were initially cast coins but with Western technology, coins started to evolve as struck coins which looked similar to the old cast coins. Of course not all provinces started at the same time as its often the Eastern part of the country that had better access due to the coast.

    This soon exploded and various provinces tried to follow a standard for striking similar coins. This fell apart as not all provinces shared similar wealth and some were resource poor. Some did not issue silver coins and if they did, they were officially underweight despite being illegal.

    Because of the corrupted nature at that era, circulating coins were melted down and coins were struck in bronze.

    By the early Republican era, warlords at Western China started to do the same except as they did not have minting technology. This was done to raise revenue for their military expenses.

    By then China started to be invaded by the Japanese. Certain provinces at the Eastern end were cut apart, renamed etc and puppet coins were issued. At the Western end, you have the Red Army going around a few provinces fleeing the Republican army and issue some of their propaganda coins. To counter this, the Republican tried to issue a standard coinage for the country in 1936.

    Now here's the challenge - to illustrate this alphabetically by provinces is perhaps the easiest but it does not really reflect the historical aspect. To factor in history and add geography would make more sense but would make this incredibly difficult. It's just about 60 years of history but it just seems a lot longer.

    britannia40 likes this.
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  3. britannia40

    britannia40 Well-Known Member

    I split my set up by province and then time period Late Qing Dynasty 1870-1911 and Republic 1912-49.
    gxseries likes this.
  4. If you ever do come up with one, consider sending it to Dansco as a suggestion for a Chinese type set. I know that they haven't made most of their world albums in quite a while, but there are some countries (China and Russia come to mind) that seem to be in vogue now that might generate enough interest to sell type set albums.

    One can dream...
  5. britannia40

    britannia40 Well-Known Member

    Here's a map of the old provinces to help.
    gxseries likes this.
  6. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    Chris where did you find that map? Looks quite neat. I see some online but figured I should get two copies - one from Wing dynasty and the other around 1940s. A bit of a mission.

    Quintuple - there are some interesting albums out there if you are willing to throw some serious money. There are albums from Russia, divided under Nicholas II, first and series Soviet coins - all for 100+ dollars each. Its more of a year run set which becomes absurdly expensive.

    An early Qing dynasty Chinese type set will be extremely difficult. I do have the first series commemorative Chinese in an album. I also have some digital albums which you might want to check out. Which reminded me that I have a lot of other projects to work on... The last project HK type set I worked on - i believe is much better than the original Dansco.
  7. britannia40

    britannia40 Well-Known Member

    I bought the map a few years back from an antique paper dealer.
    gxseries likes this.
  8. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    I think Krause organizes Chinese coins alphabetically by province, correct? While that makes some sense to me, I think arranging them geographically would make more sense (north to south, east to west, or something like that). This is made more significant because, as you say, the eastern provinces developed technology earlier than the inner provinces.
    gxseries likes this.
  9. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    You know, you gotta realize that China's numismatic changed quite greatly in the last century. Up to 1860, cast cash coins have been in circulation for literally two millennium. Soon foreign silver flowed in foreigners could buy Chinese luxury such as silk, porcelain, tea etc.

    With foreign invasion and parts of China was carved up, foreign technology did come in. Starting from Hong Kong, machine struck coins started to appear in 1866. While it was unpopular and the mint was shut and closed just two years later, it's impact was made. Years later, the British mint was contracted to make some trial samples.

    In the German colony Qingdao, nickel coins started to appear in circulation from 1909. The public initially did not take these coins kindly as it was an unknown metal. Silver and copper have always been the preferred metal.

    Kwangtung province at the eastern end of China often had more influence from western technology already started to have machine struck coins by 1890s. This slowly spread inland and struck nickel coins in 1919.

    Now this is what I find it fascinating. The old cast coins were supposedly similar in size and shape (weight, metal varied) as they has to take order from the board of revenue Peking. But because China was literally torn apart from foreign powers, each province started to strike coins to how they feel like. Mind you, even with cash coins, some mints were naughty as they tried to substitute copper with other cheaper metals.

    Soon you have mints trying to take advantage of this situation. Some mints actually could not afford to strike copper and silver coins as they were resource poor. From 1880s to 1949, you see a huge explosion of various kind of coins from different provinces, only to see them disappear after China unified under a communist party. Coins were struck in cheap aluminium from 1955.

    So in less than 100 years, China's coins switched over from cast coins to copper, silver and other exotic metals to cheap aluminium coins.

    I find it challenging and interesting to understand its numismatic history
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