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The Special Coins of the Kwangtung Mint

Kuang Ming Shih Chieh / Guang Ming Shi Jie

I post below is the email received from Mr. P. B. of Canada on Tue, 23 Apr 2002.

Good evening, finally found your site again and noted with curiousity your page with the Fukien machinery 1 Men. I have several Kuang-hsu t'ung-pao "struck" cash but all are 24 mm diameter with a square hole. I have a couple of Guang-ming shi-jie that fit the dimensions of the coin described (16 mm; +/- 1 gram, round hole inside square rim) as shown on attachment.

Coin on the left has the obverse legend on the reverse also at an offset of about 10 degrees.
Coin on the right has Guang-ming shi-jie on the obverse and Guwang-boo on the reverse at about a 130 degree offset.

I haven't found this coin in Schjoth, or FD, or Jen. Have you any thoughts on this coin? Is it true coinage, or maybe a gambling token? Thanks for your ideas.

P. B.

Another email received from Mr. P. B. of Canada on Tue, 28 Apr 2002.

I noticed a Guang-ming shi-jie "possible token" in the tokens portion of "Chinese coinage website". That coin/token has 9 stars on the reverse. Mine have the obverse on the reverse on the first coin and Guwang Boo reverse on the second coin. Whether they are tokens or coinage doesn't matter, they are still an interesting part of my collection.

Thanks again for your interest.

P. B.


After receiving Mr. P. B.'s coin images, I found that the coin is quite rare for me, I am sure that it is not a circulating coin, but a token, though it looks like an official issue. I sent the coin images to Mainland China for a further consulting. After two months, hundreds of Chinese collectors have seen the coin images, only about 30 collectors have ideas of the coin, most of the them agreed that the coin is a burial token or hell money. (Fantasy coins or notes used by Chinese for burial purpose. According to the social custom, Chinese would place some real coins into the coffin, when they bury a dead person. When the funeral precession pass through the streets, they also would throw some real money or hell money into the streets.) But I think the coin was not used in China, because only very few Chinese collectors have seen it before. In my opinion, this type of token might be used by some of the rich Chinese in the China towns of Canada or USA in the early twentieth century.


Evolution and Peculiarity of the Kwangtung Mint (or Canton Mint)
( from the book Coin of Kwangtung Mints by Mr. Lam Wing Cheung, page 22. )

By the time of Kuang Hsu, Kwangtung had become accustomed to using foreign silver coins as a medium of daily exchange. Due to their constant weight and metal content, the foreign silver coins were extremely popular in the local market and were valued at a rate highter than the actual value of their silver content. They were to be found in full circulartion in regions around Kwangtung and gradually spread into China proper, causing great disturbance to the economy of the Ch'ing Emprie. As a remedial measure, Chang Chih-tung, the Viceroy of the Two Kwangs (Kwangtung and Kwangsi Provinces) first suggested in 1887 that the Ch'ing Government should mint its own silver and copper coins in imitation of the foreign coinage. These were for use alongside the foreign silver coins in overseas trade and payment of taxes and customs. Upon approval of the Emperor, the Ch'ing Ambassador in Britain was instructed by telegram the same year to place an order with Heatons Mint in London for the supply of modern coin-minting machinery. The construction of the Kwangtung Mint outside the City of Canton at Huang Hua T'ang commenced in 1887 and was completed in 1889.


Marks of Rareness of the Collected Currencies
Extremely Rare A ~ Very Rare B ~ Rare C ~ Not So Many D ~ Common E

Obverse and Reverse Description
No. 334
Diam.? mm
Wt. ? g.
Rareness C
Mint Evolution and Peculiarity
Information provided by P
from the book : Counterfeits and Copies of Kwangtung Coins by Robert D.Thompson
Published and Printed by the Government Printer on behalf of the City Museum and Art Gallery Urban Council, Hong Kong Nov,1971

Lastly, one sometimes finds odd coins which are well made and seem to be old (as indeed they are) one will find,
FOR EXAMPLE :
A cash coin of Tao Kuang, which a Chinese character mint mark above and the right of the hole and a Manchu mint mark to the left and below the hole. Thus the Chinese mint character appears twice on the reverse and the Manchu mint character twice on the reverse.

This type of cash coins are always part of a set for all the mint marks of China. Even if found as odd ones they privately made for use in games.

One peculiar should also be mentioned.
It is a brass piece struck at the Canton Mint during the reigns of "Kuang Hsu" and "Hsuan Tung" with four Chinese characters "Kuang Ming Shih Chieh". (The world of brightness, euphemism for "The world of the deaths") on the obverse, and a Manchu mint-mark "Kwang" on the reverse.
It is of the same size as Kuang Hsu one wen and was probably made to the private orders of the officials in charge of the mint for use as "Ghost Money", which, according to the Chinese traditions, is to be thrown into the street in vast numbers as gift to the ghosts at the time of the Hungry Ghost Festival on the 14th day of the 7th moon.


Thanks indeed to P, for the valuable information. YKL
Obverse and Reverse Description
No. 335
Diam.? mm
Wt. ? g.
Rareness C
Mint Evolution and Peculiarity
Information provided by Dongjin of Fukchow, Fukien Province.

These coins were the first struck coin (Trial minting coin not for general circulation) minted by the Canton Mint. As I know that these coins were minted in 3 diffrent forms: The first one is four Chinese characters "Kuang Ming Shih Chieh" on the obverse and two Manchu characters meaning (Kwang Mint) on either side of the hole on the reverse. The second one is four Chinese characters "Kuang Ming Shih Chieh" on the obverse, and 9 stars on the reverse.
The third one is inscribed with the same legend "Kuang Ming Shih Chieh" on the both sides. Can you contact the owner of the above coin for me? Thank you very much!

Fukchow Dongjin

Thanks indeed to Dongjin, for the valuable information. YKL
Obverse and Reverse Description
No. 336
Diam.16.5mm
Wt. 1.4g.
Rareness E
Mint Evolution and Peculiarity
This brass circular small coin was struck by machinery with a round hole in the centre, four Chinese characters (Kuang Hsu Current Coin) on the obverse; two Manchu Characters meaning (Kwang Mint) on either side of the hole on the reverse. It was first minted at the Kwangtung Mint in 1906.

Obverse and Reverse Description
No. 337
Diam.17mm
Wt. 1.4g.
Rareness D
Mint Evolution and Peculiarity
This brass circular small coin was struck by machinery with a round hole in the centre, four Chinese characters (Hsuan T'ung Current Coin) on the obverse; two Manchu Characters meaning (Kwang Mint) on either side of the hole on the reverse. It was first minted at the Kwangtung Mint in 1910.




More about Copper Coin in Chinese History





    Bibliography

  1. Lam wing Cheung : Coin of Kwangtung Mints, Published by the Urban Council, May 1979
  2. Robert D.Thompson : Counterfeits and Copies of Kwangtung Coins Published and Printed by the Government Printer on behalf of the City Museum and Art Gallery Urban Council,Hong Kong Nov,1971


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