VIETNAM, CHIEU THONG THONG BAO, 1787-89 AD, 1 van, silvery metal


VIETNAM, LE Dynasty in North, 1573-1788, 1 van, no date (1787-89 AD), Sontay mint, Obverse: CHIEU THONG THONG BAO, Reverse: SON bottom, silvery metal, 24mm, 3.06g, B80.14, KM122, C31.3, ex-Fisher collection, VF

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The silvery color is probably tin, not silver.

Chieu Thong was the year title of the Le claimant who spent most of his life in China agitating for help in his quest to take Vietnam from the Tayson. The Chinese Canh Long invasion coins of 1789 were to pay the Chinese troops they had lent to him.

The Later Le government became weak and subject to rebellions. The Le family was forced into the position of local potentates. Later on they managed a comeback of sorts as puppets of the Trinh family.

Vietnam has rarely been fully united as a country. Unlike the Koreans, who always formally accepted Chinese suzerainty, the Vietnamese never accepted that status. We could say that the country has been at war with China for the last 2000 years. Still, as we all know, a lot of Chinese cultural influence, including the way they structured their economy and the kinds of coins they made. My main reference for Vietnamese cast coins: The Historical Cash Coins of Viet Nam, by Allan Barker. Supplementary reference: A Working Aid for Collectors of Annamese Coins, by John A. Novak.

China calls itself “Central Country.” That is in reference to the vast Asian hinterland that is not China, and to the island peoples out in the Pacific Ocean. Because China tended to do organizational things earliest in that part of the world, the outsiders would notice and adopt useful practices that they observed. Among those borrowed cultural practices was the adoption of the money economy to replace direct barter, or to replace less convenient shapes of metal, rings and tools and jewelry bits. The Chinese style of market money being square holed cast bronze coins, that became the form of the coins made in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the islands out to Java, into Siberia and as far west as Kazakhstan.