CHINA Ming knife 360-220 BC


CHINA, State of YAN, ZHOU Dynasty, 1122-255 BC, Ming knife, no date (360-220 BC), Obverse: MING, eye form, Reverse: NEI (interior), straight top blade, bronze, 138x16mm, 14.36g, H4.42.6.a, VG

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The small “Ming” knives have been found in many places in central and northern China. Time frame is 400-220 BC. There was an elaborate control system demonstrated by the characters on the reverse.

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.