THAILAND possibly 18th century lead imitation cowrie


THAILAND, unknown region, unknown period, possibly 18th century, imitation cowrie, cypraea annulis shape, Reverse: bottom has small depression in center, bit of wire projects from the vertical axis, lead and iron wire, 22x15mm, 14.88g, F

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Cowrie shells were used as small change all over Asia when they were available. When they weren’t available, people would occasionally make imitations. Everyone would know what they represented. It may not have been worth a lot, but it was worth something.

Modern Thailand is the modern version of the Kingdom of Siam, which was a feudal monarchy with vassal states. Most of the vassal territory is now the independent nations of Laos and Cambodia. There were people in Thailand in paleolithic times. Organized bureaucratic political entities existed by the 4th century AD. Ethnically Thai people entered the region from the north in the 14th century. The current King is the latest in a dynasty that was established by a general who kicked out Burmese occupiers in the early 18th century.

The big player in East Asia is China, of course. Then there is Japan and Korea, throw in Mongolia. South of China and east of India, but not including, for the most part, the islands to the east, is what we call Southeast Asia. From Burma to Malaya there have been a series of local kingdoms for about 2000 years. Russia, with its Asian Siberia, doesn’t count. We consider it part of Europe.

By “Modern World Coins” we mean here, generally, the round, flat, shiny metal objects that people have used for money and still do. “Modern,” though, varies by location. There was some other way they were doing their economies, and then they switched over to “modern coins,” then they went toward paper money, now we’re all going toward digital, a future in which kids look at a coin and say “What’s that?” We’ll say: “We used to use those to buy things.” Kids will ask “How?” The main catalog reference is the Standard Catalog of World Coins, to which the KM numbers refer.