37. Coins and charms in the “Jin shi suo”, by Feng Yunpeng and Feng Yunyuan

Two small volumes have recently been acquired by the library of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. The titles are missing from the front covers, but they can be identified as two volumes that together make up the Coins section of the Jin shi suo (Metals part 4).

Above: the first pages of the two volumes

The Jin shi suo 《金石索》was compiled by the brothers Feng Yunpeng 馮雲鵬 and Feng Yunyuan 馮雲鵷 in the early nineteenth century. Preparation for printing this work – engraving the printing plates – began in 1821 (Daoguang 1). It has been reprinted many times, and remains in print today. It is usually referred to by its Chinese title Jin shi suo (literally “Index of Metals and Stones”), and translated as “Record of Inscriptions on Bronzes and Stones”, or “Index of…” or similar.

Feng Yunpeng (1765-1840) was a collector and recorder of Chinese antiquities and inscriptions. Originally from Tongzhou (modern-day Nantong), in Jiangsu province, he served as a county magistrate in Ziyang 滋陽 (Hebei) and Qufu 曲阜 (Shandong). Before 1815 (Jiaqing 20) Feng Yunpeng recorded inscriptions wherever he went, and often made sketches of what he saw. In 1815 his brother Feng Yunyuan joined him, and the two travelled together, visiting ancient sites and antiquities, and researching objects with inscriptions. After five years they had produced their encyclopaedic catalogue. Publication took three years (1821-1823), during which time they continued to collect inscriptions.

The Jinshi suo usually presents an image of each object, with a rubbing of the inscription, followed by an explanation and notes. Many of the pieces belonged to the Feng brothers themselves or to collectors. Some famous pieces published in the Song dynasty and Qing dynasty were also included.

The title Jin shi suo recalls the scholarly field of jinshixue 金石学, literally “the study of metal and stones”, where there was a strong focus on inscriptions and engravings. The catalogue comprises 12 parts, the first six devoted to metalware (including bronze vessels, weapons, weights and measures, miscellaneous, coins, seals and mirrors), and the last six devoted to stones (including engravings on stone stele and inscriptions on bricks and roof tiles, and including rubbings from the famous Wuliang Shrines). Part 3  (“Miscellaneous”) includes a section on coin-moulds. Part 4 is devoted to coins (including charms, amulets, Christian medalets, etc). The library of the Dept of Coins and Medals has recently acquired two small volumes comprising Part 4.

I have checked the two newly acquired volumes against the edition in the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) (published by Shanghai : Wen xin ju shi yin, Shanghai, in 1906 – 上海 : 文新局石印, 光緖丙午) – and they appear to be the same. For convenience, I have scanned the two volumes in the BM collection, and have taken photos of the section on coin-moulds in the SOAS volume.

Jin shi suo, part 4.1 (coins) –  BM – pdf – Jin shi suo (4.1)

Jin shi suo, part 4.2 (coins) – BM – pdf – Jin shi suo (4.2)

Jin shi suo, part 3 (coin-moulds) – SOAS – pdf – Jin shi suo (3 – moulds)

JIn shi suo (soas)

Above: The Jin shi suo in SOAS Library (shelf-mark c.FFB.164)

Above: The Jin shi suo in SOAS Library – first pages

Above: Jin shi suo, part 4.1 – front cover, first page and last page (SOAS library)

Above: Jin shi suo, part 4.2 – front cover, first page and last page (SOAS library)

Above: The coin-mould in Part 3 has been adopted for use at the beginning of Part 4  — SOAS volume (left). BM volume (right)

Lyce Jankowski includes a couple of pages on Feng Yunpeng and Feng Yunyuan in her doctoral thesis “Les cercles de collectionneurs et de numismates dans la région de Pékin durant la première moitié du XIXe siècle: échange des monnaies anciennes, partage des idées et renouveau des études numismatiques” (Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2012, vol. II, pp. 377-378 – publication forthcoming). She notes that the Jin shi suo presents 600 coins and 20 moulds; that the authors frequently refer to, and reproduce illustrations from, older books; and that they include rubbings from collectors. She also quotes the numismatist Bao Kang 鲍康, who was very dismissive of the numismatic section of the Jin shi suo.

A.B. Coole includes Feng Yuanpeng and Feng Yunyuan, and the Jin shi suo in his Bibliography of Far Eastern Numismatology (1967):

[p. 102] Feng Yün-p’eng (馮雲鵬) Yen-hai (晏海)  // *121 Chin Shih So (金石索) // *352 Ku Chin Ch’ien Pu (古今錢譜) // He was a brother of Feng Yün-yüan (馮雲鵷). They were the co-authors of No. 352 古金錢譜 which is the numismatic section of a larger work, no. 121. The larger work was completed about 1827 but not published until 1893.

[p. 102] Feng Yün-yüan (馮雲鵷) Chi-hsuan (集軒) // *121 Chin Shih So (金石索) // *352 Ku Chin Ch’ien Pu (古今錢譜)  // See note under his brother’s name above.

[p. 20] Coole 121 : Chin Shih So 金石索 In Search of Antiques – Feng Yün-p’eng (馮雲鵬) and Feng Yün-yüan (馮雲鵷). 1893. 24 vols. 2,046 pp. 13.2 x 19.25 cm, illustrated (古人=工殆 ) . Pages 463-484 illustrate and describe coin molds while pp. 519-658 deal with coins and ya-sheng pieces. This printing is from wood-blocks and the book is considered fairly reliable. The other pages take up other antiques. See no.352 for a reprint of the coin sections.

[p. 50] Coole 352 : Ku Chin Ch’ien P’u  古今錢譜 A Catalog of Old and Recent Coins – Feng Yün-p’eng (馮雲鵬) Yen-hai (晏海) and his brother Feng Yün-yüan (馮雲鵷) Chi-hsuan (集軒) – Shanghai Ch’ien Ch’ing T’ang Book Co (千頃堂書局) 4 vols, 161 pp., 13.4 x 20.2 cm, illustrated. (古今 = 舜當). This is a reprint of pp. 463-84 and 519-658 of no. 121 which was published in 1893 and contains only the numismatic material from that much larger work.

Other sources




  1. This book is available at Archives.com (B/W reproduction)

    vol 1
    vol 2
    vol 3
    vol 4 (Jin shi suo, part 4.1 (coins)
    vol 5
    vol 6
    vol 7
    vol 8
    vol 9
    vol 10
    vol 11
    vol 12

    Also Hathi Trust has some additional versions:
    Hathi Trust Library has this edition (1821):

    The Hathi Trust has other editions too. These may not be view able from the UK or Europe due to litigation from the EU concerning copyright limitations.
    Hathi Trust has quite a number of old Japanese coin books from the Keio University.

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