From Ancient to Modern – The Square-Holed Cash Coinage of China: MA-Shops

By Joël van DamOwner, Joëlnumismatics, for ……

Most collectors have seen these coins and there’s a chance you might even have one or two of them in your collection. If you don’t know what these coins are called, then you probably describe them as “those Chinese coins with a hole in them”.

I’m talking, of course, about Chinese cash coins.

These coins were in use in the majority of China and, during later periods, in some parts of East Asia. Cash coinage was first cast in the fourth century BCE during the so-called Warring States period.

This was a period of internecine warfare throughout China with the specific goal of creating one Chinese empire. This warfare led, in the end, to the Qin state’s victory in 221 BCE. This, again, led to the first unified Chinese Empire, the Qin dynasty. The cash coin (方孔錢, or 方孔钱) first invented at this time was used for a uniquely long period, from the fourth century until the 20th century.

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500 Cash 1851-1861 Wen Zong

500 Cash 1851-1861 Wen Zong

900.00 US$

  • Weight: 70.46 g
  • Diameter: 57.50 mm

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For most of the time that these coins were produced they were cast. It is only during the latest period of manufacture that some types were struck as a result of Chinese industrialization. In general, these coins were made from an alloy with copper or bronze combined with either iron, zinc or lead. Some cash coins were also made from gold and silver, though it’s not completely certain if the silver and gold coins were used for the same purposes as “normal” cash coins. It’s possible that these precious metal coins were made for purely religious and/or aesthetic purposes.

Cash coinage had several different uses during the lengthy timeframe of their production. Of course, originally they were used as a form of currency.

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China China Qing Dynasty emperor Xiang Feng - MA Shops

50 Cash 1854 Xiang Feng Huge

625.00 US$

  • Material: Bronze
  • Weight: 81.00 g
  • Diameter: 58.8 mm

Obverse: Xiang Feng Yuan Bao; Reverse: Manchurian inscription ‘Bao Quan’

This is a heavy early red copper issue, cast only from March to August 1854 only!

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Coins Strung Together

Cash coins didn’t have an extremely high value and so, in order to facilitate the transport of many coins at once, they feature rather prominently a square hole so you cam string them together. When collected together in strings of 1,000 pieces you had a “necklace” with a value of 1 tael of silver. It must have been a burden to wear!

The coins were also used for religious purposes and as lucky talismans. They were hung around the necks of children, pregnant women and the infirm. Cash coins are still used within traditional Chinese medicine and Feng Shui.

Have a look and see more Cash Coins on MA-Shops.

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Multiple Cash 1740-1787 Vietnam Anh Hung

500.00 US$

  • Diameter: 45.00 mm

10 Cash 1102-1106 Hui Zong Chong Ning

10 Cash 1102-1106 Hui Zong Chong Ning

125.00 US$

  • Weight 12.45 g
  • Diameter: 33.88 mm

Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 CE). Rare.

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About MA-Shops

MA-Shops small sealMA-Shops is an internet marketplace headquartered in Europe. MA-Shops has assembled a network of reputable coin dealers – both large and small – onto one, easy-to- use platform to sell coins, paper currency, medals, military orders and stamps directly to the collector. Founded by German engineer Joachim Schwiening in 2005, MA- Shops is now the leading ”online collector mall” worldwide. Browsing through the site quickly reveals how wide and variegated the selection from MA-Shops and its associated dealers really is. In recent months, Schwiening and MA-Shops have made a concerted push into the American market.

  • OPEN YOUR MA-SHOP and sell to 300,000 collectors
  • Items listed on marketplaces and search engines, Google & Co.
  • Marketing Tools, dedicated MA-Shops Support
  • Email Campaigns
  • Multi Language, English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese

Contact us here

中国, 中國, 方孔錢, 方孔钱, 銅錢, 铜钱, 銅幣, 铜币, 風水, 风水

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