CHINA, MING REBELS, 1 cash, no date (1678 AD), Yunnan-Fu mint, Obverse: LI YONG TONG BAO, square head 2-dot TONG, Reverse: YUN R, brass, 27mm, 4.65g, H21.89, S1339, KM188, aVF

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Li Yong was the year title used by Wu Sangui before he declared his Empire.

Wu Sangui was a great and loyal general of the Ming. He apparently made one slip up but maintained on favorable terms with the bureaucracy. The Ming government was dissolving in the face of years of war with the Manchus. At a certain point Wu switched sides and started working with the Manchus, who rewarded him with an appanage in Yunnan when they established their Qing Dynasty. But when they abolished feudal relationships Wu rebelled and established his own dynasty. He died of dysentery.

While Mongol princes were fighting with each other a peasant rebellion developed in the south. One of the peasant leaders became the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Ming became very prosperous, engaged in world trade. started overseas colonies, until one day an unfortunate horoscope caused the Emperor to freak out and close down the country. Economic difficulties produced a number of rebellions at the end, coins being made by rebels and local loyalists.

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.