Kuangtung Square Trough Sycee

Stephen Tai
Nov, 08, 1998
Nan Hai County
- The 4th year of the Tao Kuang Reign (1824, 1821-1850)
Dimensions: 59(L) x 42(W) x 24 (H)
Weight: 376 g (10 taels)
  • Kuangtung, the southest province in the Chinese mainland, was active in trade with foreign galleons since centuries ago, henceforth people in Kuangtung gradually got used to circulate foreign money, and caused to the shrinkage of local sycee. In the latter part of the 19th century, Spanish Mexican Pillar Dollars and Eagle Dollars had already dominated the currency market in Kuangtung, people used them for daily transactions or even paying taxes to the local governments; sycee had almost disappeared from the markets. However, every years when the Kuangtung government tried to ship the taxes they collected to the central government, on and on. They will be strongly requested to deliver the tax in the form of silver ingot as to cope with the Imperial regulation. Such request really became a headache of the Kuangtung government, they had no choice but to, either, source for sycee from other places such as Shanghai, Chekiang and to purchase their sycee with silver coins, or melt down those silver coins for making sycee. It is no need to explain why Kuangtung sycee is so difficult to find in present days.
  • According to British Museumís records (*), from the Opium War indemnity that Chinese government paid to British government, they were offered 57 pounds and 12 shillings worth of silver ingots from the payment, including 3 kinds of sycee severally made in Kuangtung, Chekiang and Shanghai. Unfortunately, the records did not further provide any detail about those sycee, however, with this simple message, we can say that those payment of indemnity must be prepared by Kuangtung, and the kind made in Kuangtung as recorded, should be similar to the shown one.

    (*) Note: Joe Cribb. A Catalogue of Sycee in the British Museum. Page 12. Published by British Museum Press. 1992.

Silver Sycee