Fake Vietnamese coin
with the Northern Song dynasty legend
Last update 06-Nov-02

Coin image received from John Jensen
Vietnamese legend tuen hoa nguyen bao (in Chinese xuan he yuan bao).

Reverse: plain

      Xuanhe is the reign title of the Northern Song dynasty (1119-1125 AD). But all published coins with the legend xuan he yuan bao are read in the direction top-right-bottom-left. Style of the yuan character on above coin is similar to the style which was used on Vietnamese coins (see, for example, khai thai nguyen bao 1314-1329 AD and thuan thien nguyen bao 1428-1433 AD). BTW, style of other characters very close to style of original Chinese coin (see below rubbing of Xuanhe tongbao coin #45, p.107 from Fugo Senshi - not 100% same coin, but very similar).

Message from Allan Barker (02-July-02):
          Now there are many, many new fakes, often new wierd coins never seen before, many are Vietnamese. It is important that a new coin is 100% verified before letting anyone think it might be real. If people see a fake known coin, OK. If people see a fake unknown coin - the historical record can be damaged. Most people believe what they see, if they see a new coin, they will believe it and it will take 50 years to correct the record. It is like a computer virus, if it is released, it will be very hard to completely get rid of it, maybe never. Therefor it must be clear that a coin is doubtful until it can be confirmed.

          About the Tuyen Hoa Nguyen Bao coin, I think that chance that this is real is very low. I can not examine under the microscope so I am only about 90% sure. But there are many things wrong.

          Thuan Hoa Huu Bao is actually very rare, and most seen lately are faked from a Chinese Xuan He coin by changing the right character. The calligraphy of the Vietnamese coin is very different than the Chinese Xuan He coins. This coin is of Chinese origin calligraphically.

          The coin's calligraphy is unbalanced, meaning the Nguyen does not fit well, thus it was probably made from a Chinese Xuan He Tong Bao. It is not a coin that was designed all by one calligrapher. Vietnamese Tuyen Hoa Huu Bao is actually a very beautiful and well designed coin.

          Is there any reason to associate this with the Tuyen Hoa Huu Bao, or to assume it is of Vietnamese origin? The Chinese did sometimes placed the Yuan on the right, particulary during the Southern Song period. The Chinese Yuan and Vietnamese Nguyen on the right are different, but both were quite beautiful. This is not such a nice Nguyen, or Yuan.

          To be complete, the Vietnamese did make several coins by using Chinese coins and changing one or two characters. These are called substitution coins and there are about 12 to 15 know types. Things like,

               Dia Duc Thong Bao
               Khai Dinh Thong Bao
               Khai Hoa Thong Bao
               Chinh Dinh Thong Bao, etc.

          I have compared the Tuyen Hoa Nguyen Bao with this series to see if it might fit there. The fit is not good, the look and feel is different, and most of the Vietnamese coins were made by *mixing* different characters from Chinese coins, not by creating new characters by hand.

          Scientifically, the coin is quite doubtful, but this should be confired by close examination.
          Emotionally, about 110% bad!

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