- "Cob" in Latin means "cabo de barre", generally known as "silver piece
cut off from the end of a bar", was a coinage used in the Spanish colonial
America during 16th to 18th century. Silver cobs were denoted from 8, 4,
2, 1 reale and 1/2 reale, and such a nomination of "reale" was also a
"weight unit". An 8-reale cob weighs about 27+ grams. (See Images 1-4)
- Without being recorded too many specifics by letter Chinese histories, but
indeed, Spanish cobs had been brought to and circulated in China since late
Ming Dynasty, e.g. 16th century, until 18th century, which was one of the
pioneer foreign silvers in China.
- Silver cobs had been widely circulated in the coastal areas of China, such
as Kuang Tung, Chekiang, Fujien and Taiwan for a long time, people used to
call it "Cross Money". This can be evidenced by many hoards of cobs
excavated from those areas in recent decades.
- From 1732, silver cobs were gradually replaced by semi-machine made
"Pillar Dollar" of Spanish Mexico and other colonies. The supply of cobs
hence declined, until stopped.
- From a hoard of small Chinese sycees, a few months ago author found 2
sycees as (5) and (6) illustrated, they were obviously resembled from
Spanish cobs. Their weights are respectively in 27+ and 13+ grams which
equivalent to 8 reales and 4 reales for cobs. (5) with cutting edges shows
that its smith was sheering it as to fit certain weight standard; it was of
the same measure taken in producing cobs in South America. (6) is even more
interesting; a cross resembling the Spanish emblem with 2 pairs of castles
and lions divided by a cross into 4 compartments which carried by every cobs
is shown on this sycee. Even though it doesn’t show the details of castles,
lions and other ornaments as appeared on the surfaces of original cobs, yet,
it can be of no doubt that this sycee was deliberately putting on the cross
to resemble a 4-reale cob.
- These 2 Chinese "cobs" should be resulting from, either, at the time
before early 18th century, while cobs were overwhelming the Chinese markets
and people who could not find enough supplies of cobs for circulation called
upon smiths to cast sycees in the pattern of cob. Or, after 1732 when cobs
started to retire from the markets, Chinese merchants did so to prolong the
supply of cobs, and it became an interim currency between Silver cobs and
Pillar Dollars in China.
Any additional information highly appreciated.
Chinese Coinage Web Site