Home tools as coins in ancient China

    Years ago I attended a tea in some home in Beverly Hills, California. A swimming pool in the bath house contained a large collection of Chinese coins displayed on a large table. If I recall correctly, they were in numerical order to date. However, the collection began with useful tools and hostess said that useful items were the beginning of Chinese coins. Will you be kind enough to let me know if tools were the beginning and then grew into coins with holes in the middle and the reason for the hole was to thread the coin on a piece of leather? Did they wear this leather with coins around their neck or some place else on their body or clothes?

John Liang
    Tools were indeed the beginning of Chinese coinage (save the shells). In the old days, what you used as a necessity of life got transpired into shapes of money, showing their importance. The earliest spade money were huge imitation of real spades. I suspect some were big enough to be actually used as minor spades. In later years, the shapes of knife (or rather, swords), shell, fish etc. got to be used as shapes of money. Even the round cash (the Pan Liang used by Chin) which dominated the future shape of all coins, was said to be made in the shape of wheels, another important tool in the old days.
Sergey Shevtcov
    The question connected with the money system origin in an ancient China is rather trivial, since described practically by all authors, who touched problems of history of Chinese coinage. In my opinion this question is described beside Peng Xin Wei, Lockhard, Bykov and others. In brief - first coinage in the China have come up for the epoch Zhou in the manner of copies of knifes, spade and hoes. On changing the exchange trade (ram in exchange for 10 knifes or 2 hoes) come a trade with using the coinage, as far as carry on the market heavy instruments of labour was not suitable, moreover first money were exact reduced by the copy specified labour tools. Archeological excavations of this period give that acknowledgement. I have material, in which are described bronze knives of specified period, as two drops of water looks like coins-knives - same form, the hole and etc. Same pertains to other coins, appeared as copies present labour tools. Since beside labour tools had a hole ( for fastening to the stick, beside knifes - for fastening by the rope to the belt), this hole is saved for coins and served already to carry them in strings. In the course of evolutions of the form of coins a hole is saved, since way of coins carrying in strings is renderred very suitable and is ingrained in the China on two with the half thousand years. We will never know, how an ancient Chinese carried their cash strings (in hands, on neck or in bags), but we can expect that this problem they decided enough easy, otherwise hole in coins disappeared old long ago.

Please read also an articles:
Simon Chen - The Coins of Ancient China
Robert Kokotailo - Ancient Chinese coinage 700 BC to 255 BC

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