VIETNAM, MINH MANG THONG BAO, 1820-41 AD, stack of sea salvaged zinc cash from an Indonesian shipwreck


VIETNAM, NGUYEN Dynasty, 1802-1945, stack of sea salvaged cash from an Indonesian shipwreck. They seem to be most or all Minh Mang zinc coins. Stacks are ~30-40mm tall, no date (1820-41 AD), Obverse: MINH MANG THONG BAO, zinc, B101.22, KM182c, encrusted,

2 in stock

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Minh Mang was the second Emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. He reversed the policy of his father and banned French Catholic missionary activity. He remained hostile to outsiders in general. He is said to have governed well at home, but his isolationism emboldened the French, who continued to peck away at Vietnamese sovereignty until they got the country under their thumb later in the 19th century.

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.