CHINA, NORTHERN SONG Dynasty, 960-1127 AD, 1 cash, no date (1068-77 AD, Obverse: XI NING YUAN BAO, orthodox script, left stroke of Xi attached at bottom, Reverse: inner and outer rims, bronze, 23.5mm, 4.01g, H16.184, S531, ERROR: spectacularly off center reverse, aF

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Bureaucratic reforms were instituted, about which people had opinions. Factions formed, and the efficiency of administration diminished. Errors like this are rare in the Song coinage.

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.