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Ancient Coin

Ancient Coin

China is one of the earliest countries to adopt coins. Round coin with a square hole, which had been circulating for more than 2,000 years, had a far-reaching impact upon some countries and regions of Asia. It led to a monetary system with oriental characteristics.

Before the appearance of coins, people resorted to barter trade. For instance, a sheep was traded for a bag of rice. About 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, ancient Chinese used precious shells as money. As commerce developed, people began to use copper to mint coins.

During the Spring and Autumn Period more than 2,000 years ago, there appeared copper coins in the shape of a knife, spade and circle.

In the year of 221 BC, Emperor Qinshihuang unified the whole country and adopted a round coin with a square hole in center as a unified currency. Such coins could be held together by a string and convienient to carried. Characters cast on the sides of the coin are of high value for archaeology today.

In 118 BC, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty used the wuzhu coin as the national currency. Wuzhu lasted for 700 years. In late Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 25 AD), Wang Mang also minted some coins, mostly in the shape of a knife or spade. They looked rather antique and pretty, this kind of coin had been used for a short period.

In 621, Emperor Gaozu of Tang Dynasty abolished the wuzhu coin and adopted coins named tongbao, yuanbao, etc. He founded the kaiyuan tongbao coin. Since then, coins were named after the dynasty code or the year code. The time, place and the value were also cast on the coins. This system continued until late Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) and early Republic of China (1911 - 1949), namely, more than 1,000 years.

China is also the earliest country to use paper currency. In late Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), 16 wealthy merchants of Chengdu of Szechuan province jointly issued, the earliest papper currency in China.

Today, ancient Chinese currency has become a precious item for collection.

 
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