Chinese Copper Cash in Previous Periods of History 中国历代铜钱

骑士贮贝器(西汉,云南省晋宁县石寨山出土,云南博物馆藏),是为贮存作为流通货币的贝而设计的一种器皿。
Knight shell container (unearthed in Shizhaishan of Jinning, Yunnan Province, and collected in Yunnan Provincial Museum), is a kind of vessel that is designed for storing shells, one forms of currency in the Western Han dynasty.
中国最早的货币是贝壳,产生于原始氏族时期。到了商代,青铜也被铸造成贝壳状的小货币开始流通,成为中国最早的金属货币——铜仿币。
Shells are believed to be the earliest form of currency used in ancient China, and first appeared in the period of primitive clan society. In the Shang Dynasty, imitation shell money made from bronze was put into circulation, and became the earliest form of metal money—bronze shell-shaped money.
战国时期,齐、赵、燕三个大的诸侯国铸行了一种刀币,是仿古代文具削刀而制,因当时未发明纸,字写在竹简之上,削刀即用于削竹片和削错字,是当时文化人的标准配备,刀币上亦有二到四字。
During the Warring States period, the three states–Qi, Zhao and Yan—issued knife money, which was derived from a cutting knife, a kind of ancient writing materials. People wrote on bamboo slips before paper came into existence. The cutting knife was used to make bamboo slips and correct the wrong characters, and thus became one of the must-haves for intellectuals at that time. There were 2 to 4 characters on the knife money.
秦国统一中国之后,废除列国货币,以秦国的方孔圆钱为统一法定货币。这种币正面有两字,自右向左为“半两”,是记钱币重量的。外圆内方,中间为方孔,便于用绳线穿串。
After Emperor Qin Shihuang unified China, he abolished all other forms of local currency and introduced a national uniform copper coin based on the coins previously used by Qin, which were round with a square hole in the middle. This kind of money had two characters on its head: “ban (半,half)” on the right and “liang (两, tael)” on the left, which was exactly the weight of each coin. The round shape and square hole made the coin easy to be strung onto a piece of string.
西汉时,汉武帝确立了“五铢”作钱名,并在钱边缘加一圈凸起的边,由于五铢钱铸造得精致规整,大小合适,外又有边圈,久用后很光滑,所以深受欢迎。直到隋代,各朝一直用五铢钱作钱名。
In the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Wudi created the wuzhu coin, which was minted with a rim. Wuzhu coins enjoyed great popularity due to its delicate casting, right size and rim which became smooth over time, and was widely used up until the Sui Dynasty.
隋朝仍铸五铢钱,重量标准,轮廓较宽,五铢前也不加年号,“五”字为篆书,交叉的两笔一种为直,称直股,一种为曲,称曲股。
Wuzhu coins issued in the Sui Dynasty featured a standard weight and broad rim. The coins had the characters “wuzhu” stamped on them. The character “wu” was in the style of seal script: the two crossed strokes which were straight were called Zhi Gu, and the two crossed strokes which were curved were called Qu Gu.
唐朝时,李渊改钱称为“通宝”,并在前边冠以“开元”二字,即开元通宝,前后使用了280余年。
During the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Li Yuan changed the name of the currency to “Kuai Yuan Tong Bao”, which was used for over 280 years.
到了宋代,货币经济发展达到了封建社会的顶峰,铸钱数目及种类都很多,现存的古钱币中,80%以上都是两宋钱币。当时,皇帝常常亲自书写钱文,称为“御书钱”。
In the Song Dynasty, the money economy reached its peak with remarkable quality and quantity. Among the extant ancient coins nowadays, about 80% were made in the Song Dynasty. At that time, emperors often wrote the characters on the coins, which were thus called “Yu Shu Qian”.
元朝时期,仿汉族年号铸有“至大通宝”,又用蒙古文字八思巴文铸有“大元通宝”,晚期铸钱名“至正通宝”,钱面为汉文,钱背面有一八思巴文,记数或记地支。
“Zhi Da Tong Bao” with inscription written in Chinese and “Da Yuan Tong Bao” with inscription written in Mongol Phags-pa were used in the early period of the Yuan Dynasty, and “Zhi Zheng Tong Bao” which featured an inscription in Chinese on one side and an inscription in Mongol on the other side.
明代朱元璋仍用年号作钱名,为“洪武通宝”,并命各省自铸,且必须在钱背上加铸各省的简称,以杜绝一些省份偷工减料。
In the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang began casting coins named “Hongwu Tong Bao” adopting the reign title of Hongwu. He required each province to mint their own coins with the abbreviation of the province’s abbreviation engraved on them, so as to avoid cutting corners.

清代时,曾有为康熙祝寿而铸的“康熙通宝”罗汉钱,意为祝康熙像罗汉一样长寿,主要是在钱的文字上作了一点改动,“熙”和“通”字比正常流通的钱币中的两字各少一竖、一点。
In the Qing Dynasty, Luo Han (Buddhist Saint) money called “Kangxi Tong Bao” was cast in celebration of Emperor Kangxi’s birthday, in the hopes that Emperor would live as long as Luohan. It featured small changes on the characters engraved on the coin: one stroke missing respectively in the characters “xi” and “tong”.
后来,咸丰为解决钱荒,仿前人铸大钱,引得物价飞涨,只得停铸。光绪年间,两广总督张之洞经朝廷许可,从英国进口机器和工具,在广州制作铜钱和银元,铜钱仍叫“光绪通宝”,但在钱背上用满文记有“宝广”,同时用汉文记有“库平一钱”,记钱的重量。
In order to solve the shortage of coins, Emperor Xianfeng ordered the mints to make iron coins, and later stopped because they led to soaring of the prices. During the period of Emperor Guangxu, Governor-General of Guangdong and Guangxi Zhang Zhidong, with the permission of the Emperor, imported machines and tools from the UK to mint copper and silver coins in Guangzhou. The copper coins were still called “Guangxu Tong Bao” with Manchu character “Bao Guang” on the reverse side and Chinese characters “Ku Ping Yi Qian” which was the weight of the coin.
辛亥革命胜利后,曾在福建、云南铸有“民国通宝”和“福建通宝”,袁世凯窃取民国大总统后也铸有带飞龙图案和洪宪年号的铜币,这三种铜币都成了短命货币。
After the victory of the Xinhai Revolution, “Minguo Tong Bao” and “Fujian Tong Bao” were cast in Fujian and Yunnan. When Yuan Shikai became the President of the Republic of China, he ordered the casting of copper coins with a flying dragon and his reign title “Hong Xian”. These three kinds of copper coins existed for only a very short time.

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