A 50-Tael Shansi Yuanbao

Stephen Tai
Feb.13, 1998

The shown sycee silver, sized 116(L) x 66(W) x 6.9(H) mm, weighted 1862g, i.e. 50 taels, made in shoe shape, is kind of silver so called Yuanbao by Chinese people. Its inscriptions read as:
Right - Tong Ze Liou Nien [Jing Bao]* [Bat]** Yuei.
Left - Chi Hsieng Wu Pei Fang
A round stamp - [Chang]***,
which mean 'The ? month, the 6th year of Tong Ze period (1867, 1862-1874)', and 'Chi County (in Shensi Province), cast by silversmith Wu Pei Fang'.
*Jin Bao: A name for the silver with their purity up to certain standard, as requested by Chi Hsien, Tai Ku Hsien and other places in Shansi Province.

**Bat: A symbol of bat as shown on the silver. Bat, a word in Chinese, pronounced as Fu, the same as 'Luck'. Therefore the images or symbols of bats have often been used in many occasion by Chinese, with a view to attract luck.

***Chang is just a code word used by assayers, representing for the silver had passed the examination and up to certain purity standard. In addition to this, there were other words, such as Yuan, Tien, ..., severally standing for different purity standards.

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