CHINA, ancient bronze yi bi, nose or ghost face coin


CHINA, State of CHU, ZHOU Dynasty, 1122-255 BC, yi bi, no date (400-220 BC), Obverse: 2 triangles, no lines above, Reverse: flat, colloquially called “ghost face” and “nose coin.” Jin and Bei (shell) have been proposed, bronze, 18.5x12mm, 3.44g, H1.4, VF

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The last evolution of the cowrie form as money was the so called “yibi,” which were little bronze coins shaped a bit like half of a bean.

Zhou dynasty was a confederation of little kingdoms with a figurehead Emperor. Various constituent states started using money in their commercial activities. Odd shaped coins such as spade, knife, ant, nose, yibi, and possible money items like fish and cicada money were followed by the early round coins.

The oldest Chinese coins are at least as old as the earliest Greek coins. The Chinese coinage system differed from other systems in two ways. It was monometallic, only bronze coins circulated in general commerce. Gold and silver were treated as commodities. And the manufacturing method was by casting in moulds rather than by striking heated solid planchets. The main reference I use in attributing and describing these coins is the book: Chinese Cast Coins, by David Hartill.