World Coins

Not as old as owner thought

One side of this Chinese charm carries a very common theme for charms, the 12 animals of the Lunar Zodiac calendar, but determining what is represented on the other side will require research, dealer Scott Semans said.

Images courtesy of Phillip Capp

My grandparents were world travelers. They have an item that seems to be extremely rare that has a hole in it.

From the description inside the box it came in, the piece seems to be from 50 B.C. However, after doing some research, it doesn’t seem to match up. I think it seems to be from the Shui Nationality.

Phillip Capp

Via email

Mr. Capp provided images of an item that is a Chinese brass charm, likely of the late Qing Dynasty (1800s), according to dealer Scott Semans of

Seman specializes in Asian numismatics and stocks several Chinese language books about charms.

One side of the charm carries a common theme, the 12 animals in the Lunar Zodiac. As for the other side of the charm, the books would be useful tools in research to determine the design interpretation and possibly whether the charm had a particular use, or area of use, though specifics of interpretation and use are generally hard to determine, Semans said.

Condition on the charm is “not good — it’s been cleaned in the past, partly retoned — [and] would retail maybe $15 to $20 or so,” according to Semans.


I recently obtained a Cardinal Richelieu medal. The inscription reads RICHELIEU CARD. ACADEMIAE GALLICAE FUNDATOR with the Roman numerals MDCXXXVI.

The medal is uniface and appears to be made out of copper, but I do not know for sure.

Cardinal Richelieu was a very influential and powerful cardinal. I would appreciate any information that you might have on this medal.

Stephanie Worden

Via email

Unfortunately the reader could not provide images of the medal in question, but correctly notes that the cardinal (real name Armand-Jean du Plessis) left his mark on 17th century politics of France.

Many medals depict Cardinal Richelieu, but we did not find any that are uniface.

This medal’s legend matches that of one inset in the cover of each volume of a 20-volume work, The Immortals: Masterpieces of French Fiction Crowned by the French Academy. According to Ziern-Hanon Galleries in St. Louis, the reverse of the medal cannot be checked to see if it is uniface without perhaps destroying the cover. 

Coin World columnist David T. Alexander, a medal specialist, notes that there are modern and historic French Mint versions of medals for Cardinal Richelieu but more information and images are required to satisfy this inquiry.

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