Unknown coin or charm
Actual diameter 24 mm
Shown here item looks like Chinese coin or charm but with unknown upper and bottom characters on the obverse (reverse is plain).
First suggestions were received at the end of February 1996 from Norman Diamond after my question about that coin in the news conference rec.collecting.coins:
The right version of coin orientation is correct (i.e. that original left picture is upside down). One character looks like a stylized version of the word for "ordinary" ("ping" in a Chinese dialect, "hei" in Japanified Chinese, "hira" in Japanese).
The other character is undefined. Denomination for coin is 30.
At the middle of July 1996 were received some additional comments from Robert Kokotailo:
As I have not seen the actual coin, I can only make some general comments based in incomplete data.
After that message I decided to search old styles of the some Chinese characters that looks like characters on the shown item. It seems to most interesting character P'ing and I found many variations of it on the coins T'ai P'ing Pai Chien , issued during the Wu dynasty (one of the Epoch of the Tree Kingdoms a.d.229-266) by Emperor Fei (Sun Liang) in the period a.d.252-257.
- The style of the coin, along with the denomination of 30 would tend to place it in the period between Wang Mang and the T'ang Dynasty. Most of Wang Mang's coins have thin lines, although some the heavier examples of Schjoth-120 (over 7 grams) can have thick lines. In the period between Wang Mang and T'ang, you will find that there are several types that
have thick lines in the inscriptions. Typical examples of this are Schjoth
#181 to 187, #195 to198, and #245.
- It appears to be cast from a very yellow brass (this is difficult to
be certain of from a scanned picture) which is inconsistant with point #1
above. This would tend an actual casting date after AD 1500.
- There appears to be a heavy green patina which is wearing through
to bright brass underneath, but no darker cuprite between. This is
constent with a modern fake patina. An ancient green patina will always
have a layer of brown or black cuprite (copper oxide) between it an the
bare metal. This would tend to indicate that this item is probably
a modern fantasy.
First of all, we see that upper character of that unknown coin is very close to P'ing character (with the exception of one horizontal stroke). Bottom character on that coin is analog of P'ing character from items S202 and #3, also with the exception of horizontal line. So I suppose that upper and lower characters are two stylized variations from newer and older forms of character P'ing.
Second, with supposition that it isn't coin but charm, we can search second meanings of character P'ing from the Chinese characters with the same pronunciations. It's usual practice in the decoding of the Chinese charms. From many P'ing characters (I searched among 52 characters P'ing, 32 of them have the same tone pronunciations) I selected character P'ing that means 'protection wall, screen'.
Third, in the book 'Encyclopedia of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motives' (C.A.S.Williams, The Julian Press, Inc., New York, 1960) I found next:
Sometimes the number of cash hung on the child's neck is equal to the number of years the child lived, a fresh coin being added every year, until the age of 15 years, by which time he is supposed to have passed the thirty dangerous barriers, which according to Chinese belief, occur among the path of life.
In some buddhist countries this traditional method of child's protection against diseases is used still now. One my old familiar collector, who not long ago worked in Mongolia during few years and sometimes moved across a country "as nomad", told me that he often saw childrens with coins string on the neck or on the belt.
On that basis I suppose that shown on that page coin is charm (not very ancient) that serve to help child pass thirty dangerous barriers and for protection against diseases.
Interest notice at the beginning of August 1996 sent to me John Liang:
The only known Chinese coin that have a "30" denomination is the "Chung Ch'uan San Shih" (S142a) of Wang Mang. To me, your coin looks like a poor imitation of that coin. Notice the top character "Chung". Although the word on your coin does not look the same as "Chung", it does contain the same essential vertical and horizontal lines. Likewise the bottom "Chung" is somewhat similar.
At last, 15 of August 1996 detailed conclusion sent to me Y.K.Leung:
The metal itself is not the one used during Wang's time. The size is about the same as the "50" cash. So it is quite safe to conclude the coin is not really an official issue.
I do have one suggestion: it can be an amulet which people seem to like to wear very much. I have not seen a piece like it myself, but amulets are known to be made in the likeness of old coins. There are for example amulets similar to S250 Yung T'ung Wang Kuo, and S1093 Tai Ho Chung Pao.
About the unknown coin or charm, I agree that this may be a charm or an amulet. From the view of Chinese, I think, that if it is a Chinese charm, it should be with auspicious characters and patterns on the obverse side or reverse side. From the inscriptions on the obverse, I find that the characters seems not written by Chinese.
I agree with Mr.John Liang too that the coin was an imitation of the "Chung Ch'uan San Shih" of Wang Mang's time. But I think the man who made
this coin had never seen a real "Chung Ch'uan San Shih" coin, because
of the rareness of the "Chung Ch'uan San Shih" coin. He possibly saw it
from some ancient reference books which were printed in poor quality. The
diameter of the "Chung Ch'uan Sam Shih" is about 2 cm., but this coin is
From the view of traditional Chinese calligraphy, the use of technique in the
"Chuan-shu" (seal style) of this coin is very bad. The characters on the
obverse side of this coin are bold and short, but the strokes of Wang
Mang's coin are long and thin usualy.
Moreover, the coins of Wang Mang's time were casted with high level of
workmanship. This coin was minted not so good.
In conclusion, I think this coin was not made by "han" in nation or even
not made by the Chinese. It may be a Japanese or Mongolian Charm made in
the likeness of the "Chung Ch'uan San Shih".
Any additional comments on that coin would be appreciated.
You can sent it to Vladimir Belyaev .