CHINA, XUAN HE YUAN BAO, 1119-1125 AD, 2 cash, nailmark reverse


CHINA, NORTHERN SONG Dynasty, 960-1127 AD, 2 cash, no date (1119-25 AD), Obverse: XUAN HE YUAN BAO, seal script, round top XUAN, kettle belly BAO, Reverse: inner and outer rims, bronze, 31mm, 7.28g, H16.476, S659, big nailmark 6:30 reverse, aXF

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Nailmarks are a term applied to lines, usually slightly curved, found on the reverses of coins of the Tang and Song dynasties. A romantic explanation is that the Emperor made a mark with his nail to indicate approval of the mould. Maybe so, but some of those marks are rather slapdash, so, in most cases. probably not.

The Song Dynasty was established by a rebel general who overcame his Later Zhou employer and went on to conquer the rest of the country. Military reforms produced two centuries of stability, but administrative costs reduced efficiency, and lack of preparedness invited invasion by the Jin from the north, while the Song moved their capital to the south.

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.