I have a coin that was left to me by my great uncle.
He was a veteran of the Spanish American War and what today is
referred to as the Philippine Incursion.
He came back from his Army service in the western Pacific with
many things, including this coin.
I believe it is a Chinese coin and apparently made prior to 1898.
The metal is somewhat yellow and, I believe, is brass or some other
close copper alloy.
I have no idea what the writing/inscriptions say, so I am asking
Coin World if you might offer some knowledge about this interesting
and, to me, historic coin. Any assistance you might offer is greatly appreciated.
The coin you discuss is indeed a Chinese coin, and specifically
one known as a cash.
The cash coin was a mainstay of China’s coinage, circulating for
more than 12 centuries. Cash coins, usually made of brass, bronze or
copper, are noted for a square hole in their center. They were
generally of low value and struck in high mintages. Though many
multiple-weight denominations exist, and many were smaller or larger,
the average cash coin weighs 4 grams and measures 25 millimeters in diameter.
Dealer Scott Semans, who operates Scott Semans World Coins (www.coincoin.com), reviewed images
of this piece and identified this example as brass and dating from the
Qing (Manchu) Dynasty, under the Emperor Sheng Zu.
Chinese cash coins have four characters on the obverse,
identifying the reign and translating to “current money.” The reverses
were generally blank until the 12th century, after which time they
often carried the Mint mark and the year of production. This example
was struck in Beijing, Semans said.
Weight and diameter provide clues as to the date range for cash
coins, Semans said, and given the wide rims on this piece it is likely
1662 to 1683, early in the emperor’s reign. Cash coins were slightly
lighter and smaller after about 1735.
Semans said small variations within the characters are used to
encode the date, and although some date assignments are controversial,
the exact year can theoretically be worked out by use of the charts in
Ch’ing Cash Until 1735 by Werner Burger.
This variety is cataloged as Hartill-22.85 in Cast Chinese Coins
by David Hartill, the standard Western reference on Chinese cash.
Published in 2005, it is still available from some hobby sources,
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