eBeijing, the Official Website of the Beijing Government

A Visit to China Numismatic Museum

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Ancient coinage of the world could be classified into two systems - western system and eastern system. In terms of the later Chinese coinage played the most prominent and a leading role.

Cast bronze coin dominated ancient Chinese coinage system, which originated in Spring and Autumn Period (8th to 5th centuries BC, an era of great transformation).

The major shapes and features of coins were spade-shaped, knife-shaped, round-shaped and shell-shaped. Qin Dynasty was established in 221 BC. When Qin Emperor the First ascended the throne, he immediately unified the currency to gold and banking coins (8 gm).

In the pre-Qin Period sea shells, bronze pieces were used as medium for exchange.

In 621 AD Tang Dynasty cast copper coins with characters KAI YUAN TONG BAO, that meant creation of a new era and eliminated any mistakes of weight measure. It set up literally a standard for the coins.

In 9 AD The Han ruler Wang Mang practiced new techniques which were advanced with beautiful workmanship. Knife-coins were inlaid with gold. Round coins were made like jade discs, that were brought into the middle and western area of China. In the year 1886 Governor Zhang Zhidong of Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces of Qing Dynasty purchased the complete set of minting machine from Britain which 3 years later sample coins were made which was the start of the machine-mint coins in China.


Sculptural statues of coin-workers in ancient times


Spade-shaped coin--Pre-Qin period (before 221 BC )


Knife-shaped coin--Pre-Qin period (before 221 BC )


Round-shaped coin--Pre-Qin period (before 221 BC )


Pre-Qin coins


Qin Dynasty standard coins of Qinbanliang (Qin half-tael)


Shell-shaped--Shang Dynasty coins (16th-11th century BC)


Shell-shaped--Shang Dynasty coins (16th-11th century BC)


Spade-shaped--Shang Dynasty coins (16th-11th century BC)


Knife-shaped--Shang Dynasty coins (16th-11th century BC) 


Coins with characters during the reign of Han Dynasty


Song Dynasty silver taels


Bank note issued by Worker-Peasant Bank in revolutionary base


Bank note issued by Worker-Peasant Bank in revolutionary base


Bank note issued by Worker-Peasant Bank in revolutionary base



Source: ebeijing.gov.cn
Date: 2007-06-19