75. Chinese coins and reign/base marks on ceramics

Look underneath Ming and Qing dynasty ceramics, and you’ll often find a reign mark or another kind of mark on the base (Chinese: 底款 dikuan – base-mark). Sometimes these are presented in a way that references Chinese coin designs  –  some base-marks look like coins: some have a square mark in the middle of a round base (like the hole in a coin?), and/or two concentric circles (like the outer rim of a coin?). Some even have an inscription arranged top-bottom-right-left as on coins, although this is sometimes a good luck inscription, as found on coin-shaped charms. Chinese coins had reign periods as part of the inscription several centuries earlier than the Ming dynasty, but when do Chinese coin-shaped base-marks first start to appear on ceramics? Which came first – the reign-period base-mark or the Chinese coin-inspired base-mark? What is the earliest evidence of a Chinese coin-inspired base-mark?

Photo from Amelia (2)

Label text at the Bristol Museum. (Image source: Amelia Dowler)

IMG_0281 (2)

Blue and white ‘coin’ dish, 17th century (Sotheby’s, New York, 19-20 March 2013) 

Chinese coins were used decoratively and symbolically at least as early as the Han dynasty. And coin-designs featured on the body of Chinese ceramics long before the Ming dynasty, as in the Song dynasty vase below.

Capture

 Yaozhou meiping vase incised with coin-pattern, Song dynasty. Photo Paragon International Auctioneers (image source: Alain Truong2014.wordpress.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

74. Book: China’s Foreign Debt (catalogue of bonds and stock certificates)

The library of the Department of Coins and Medals, British Museum, has just acquired a copy of this illustrated catalogue, published almost 40 years ago in 1983:

Wilhelm KUHLMANN, China’s Foreign Debt 1865-1982 : Excluding the Debt of the ROC Taiwan (privately published by the author), Hannover, 1983. ISBN 0-9610400-0-9

bond book

Contents

PART 1
1. Preface
2. A few historical considerations
2a. Some aspects of China’s financial history
2b. Chronology
2c. Yen-denominated bond issues
2d. Direct loans of foreign governments to China
2e. Private investments in China
3. Recent developments
3a. Foreign funds raised by the PRC to finance imports
3b. The Sino-US claims settlement agreement
3c. Development in Great Britain
3d. Other countries
3e. The PRC’s first trial to launch an external bond issue
3f. Bondholders’ struggles for redemption
3g. The Hukuang Case, by Prof. Hubert Park Beck
3h. The actual estimate of China’s foreign debt in the form of bearer bonds
3j. Charts of the big Chinese government loans
3k. Development of a collector’s market in Chinese bonds 1974-82
PART 2
1a. Loan agreement
1b. Bond issues, specimens
1c. Reserve stock, duplicates
1d. Floatage, temporary bonds
1e. Inscribability, registerability
1f. Securities
1g. Drawing procedures
2. Introduction to the Catalogue
2a. Numbering system
2b. Other abbreviations
2c. Currencies
2d. Dates
2e. Denominations (= nominal or face value)
2f. Number issued and outstanding
2g. Colour
2h. Usual condition; grading
2j. Valuation
2k. Size
2l. Paper quality
2m. The different type settings
2n. Further general remarks
The Collector’s Synopsis of Chinese external bonds
Compilation of Chinese external bonds [ie the catalogue]
Appendix 1 – The Sino-German Agreement 1921
Appendix 2 – 4% Russian 1902 (China’s contribution to Russia)
Appendix 3 – Where to buy Chinese bonds
*
Every so often, someone asks about Chinese bonds and share certificates in the British Museum collection. There are a few in the BM Collection  – see Collection Online (search for China bond), but probably many more in private collections. Here’s one:
bond AN01556027_001_l

Government of the Republic of China Treasury Bond (8% on 500 francs) of 1923, for the Lung-Hsing-U-Hai Railway (BM 2014,4050.1, donated by Dirk Booms)

72. Digitization Project: Chinese Banknotes at the NNM, Smithsonian

There are several digitization projects happening at the National Numismatic Museum, at the Smithsonian, including this transcription project (I’ve copied and pasted from the NNM website below). Many thanks to Wayne Holmen, editor of The E-sylum for posting info about it (E-sylum, vol. 23, no. 6, February 9, 2020). (more…)

70. The Mao Era in Objects – Money

69. Chinese Song/Yuan dynasty silver ingot design on a lacquer coffer?

Sometimes things just stick in the mind… two years ago at a British Museum study day on Understanding the Silk Road, Dr Ladan Akbarnia gave a very interesting talk about the lacquered traveling coffer in the Brooklyn Museum: for more photos and details, see the Brooklyn Museum website: (more…)