CHINA XIAN FENG ZHONG BAO 50 cash (1854-55 AD) Board of Revenue mint east branch


CHINA, QING Dynasty, 1644-1911 AD, 50 cash, no date (1854-55 AD), Board of Revenue mint, east branch, Obverse: XIAN FENG ZHONG BAO, 6 stroke Bei Er BAO, Reverse: DANG WU SHI top-bottom, BOO CHIOWAN left-right, brass, 46mm, 29.48g, H22.705, C1-7.1, F

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This coin was returned by the first buyer with the reason that it is a “contemporary private issue,” what I might call a contemporary counterfeit. In our discussion the issues of slightly low weight and slight calligraphy differences were weighed against the acknowledged “irregularity” of mint procedures at that time. Maybe that person’s contention is correct. I have no opinion. We agree that it is not modern but is of the correct period.

The Xian Feng era was the period of the Tai Ping war, which was a religious millennialist rebellion with some communistic organizational tendencies. Predatory European economic activity grew.

A rebel took Beijing and the last Ming Emperor committed suicide. A Ming loyalist general invited the Manchus into China to aid the Ming heir but instead they proceeded to conquer the country in what some think produced more casualties than any previous war. The Qing Dynasty promoted culture and the economy flourished until the Europeans arrived with their Industrial Revolution and opium.

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.