9 May, 1998
What is in Mitchiner's Collection?|
In his notable book Oriental Currency and Their Value Volume II, published in 1979, Mitchiner demonstrated 29 Yunnan Saddle Sycee, which dominated the biggest pie of his sycee collection.
Mitchiner's 29 saddle sycee can be classified into 7 types, their combination are interesting and very unusual. Mitchiner had indicated most of his sycee collection came from Thailand, I believe that it ought to be the major reason why his Saddle Sycee were so formed.
What Does Mitchiner's Collection Speak?
20 out of Mitchner's 29 Saddle sycee can be identified as Official Public Assayer's (8, 9), including 9 assayed in Kunmin city, and 11 assayed in the outside of Kunmin city and other places. They were all cast in 1904-1914.
6 of them are Public Assayer's, including 2 assayed in Kunmin city (No.6), and 4 assayed in the outside of Kunmin city and other places (No.7). We do not know when they begin to be cast, but in 1894 the Public Assayer's Saddle Sycee had already existed, until Saddle Sycee entirely disappeared from markets in 1914, it and the Official Public Assayer's had been the 2 major kinds above all Saddle Sycee.
The sum-up of the above 2 kinds (4 types) of Saddle Sycee, indicates that 90% of Mitchiner's collection came from the latter part of Saddle Sycee's history. Other than the 90%, those Saddle Sycee of the early stage (No.1, 3, 5) or of specific usage (No.10, 12) can not be seen in his collection, otherwise, very few (No.2, 4, 11)
Moreover, 15 out of 29, an unusually high proportion of Mitchiner's Saddle Sycee can be found not coming from Kunmin city. It is quite adverse to what we know about the distribution of Saddle Sycee as of Kunmin city, and beyond. Kunmin city almost dominated the markets since it initially introduced the (Publicly Agreed Public Assayer's) Saddle Sycee (No.2) into markets in 1884. Hence, its competitors outside of the city, could hardly compete, merely relied on their resident areas as markets, though regional and very limited, their production of saddle sycee were far more lesser than the Kunmin city's. Up to today, any lot of Saddle Sycee gathered by random, as we may find most of them are Kunmin city's, only few are not.
The Non-Kunmin city type of Official Public Assayer (No.9), is the largest group in Mitchiner's collection, and after concluding the assayers who assayed those Saddle Sycee were, we find that almost all those Official Public Assayer's were assayed by only an assayer named (Ser Fu Shing), and so were Mitchiner's Non-Kunmin city type of Public Assayer's (No.7). This Assayer and his assayed Saddle Sycee had activated since the year no earlier than the 2nd year of Hsuang Tung (1910), the time when Saddle Sycee casting business in Kunmin city were cracked down by Provincial Board of Revenues, fashioned banks and post offices, and silver coins, the assaying system attached to such business about ruined, and the time when people in Yunnan had turned their interests into silver coins and paper money. The timing of casting those Saddle Sycee is curious, they could be made for the minorities residing along the borders between Yunnan and Thailand, used Saddle Sycee to trade with Thailand people. It is reasonable to assume that in the years nearby the intersection of Ching dynasty and the Republic of China, many Saddle Sycee, though demonetized in China, were then shipped to the border for the trades with Thailand, moreover, some more were cast under such circumstances. Mitchiner's Saddle Sycee were from Thailand, such attribute generates the unusual combination of his collection, and articulates an important fact regarding the Post-Saddle Sycee History.
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