Hartill 25.73 Ancient Korean Choson Tong Bo 1423 AD Sejong 世 宗of the Yi Dynasty

Hartill 25.73 Ancient Korean Choson Tong Bo 1423 AD Sejong 世 宗of the Yi Dynasty

Korean Choson Tong Bo

1423 AD King Sejong (世 宗) of the Yi Dynasty


Weight: 4 grams; Size: 24 mm; Bronze

Choson Tong Bo (朝鮮通寶)


Coins of King Sejong (世 宗) of the Yi Dynasty

In 1392 AD, General Yi Songgye (李成桂) of the Yi Dynasty (Choson or Chosun or Joseon Dynasty 1392-1910 AD) proclaimed himself to be King Taejo (太祖) and changed the name of the country to Choson (朝鮮).

Korean "choson tong bo" coin cast during the reign of King Sejong of the Yi DynastyChoson tong bo (朝 鮮通寶) coins were actually cast during two time periods. The first period was during the 5th - 7th years (1423-1425 AD) of the reign of King Sejong (世宗) when the coins were cast written in "orthodox" script (楷書).

The inscription translates as "Choson currency". The characters on these coins tend to be clear and distinct. The reverse sides are blank. There are many varieties of this coin.


During the early years of the Joseon period cloth and grains would remain the most common forms of currency among the Korean people, during this time cotton was considered to be the most important medium of exchange. The government of Joseon also recognised the prominent role that cotton played in the Korean economy and the highest quality specimens of cotton would be stamped with the text "Joseon Tongpyejiin", which could be seen as a government seal of approval and meant that it could be used as currency throughout Korea. Barter would remain the norm in Joseon society for many generations before the reintroduction of cash coinage.

Bronze coins were cast starting in 1423 during the reign of king Sejong the Great with the Joseon Tongbo (조선통보, 朝鮮通寶) cash coins. The coins produced under Sejong were pegged to silver at 150 coins to one Kŭn (斤, 근) which is equal to 600 grams, though the actual market rates regularly fluctuated. But the monetary system proved to be unpopular as people resorted back to barter after a few years.

The Sejong era Joseon Tongbo cash coins were only issued in the years 1423 (Sejong 5), 1424 (Sejong 6), and 1425 (Sejong 7) and all of these cash coins distinctively use the regular script font of Chinese characters which tended to be both clearly and distinctively inscribed while their reverse sides tend to be blank (blank reverses are known as "光背"). This first series of Joseon Tongbo are generally about 24 millimeters in diameter and tend to weigh between 3.2 and 4 grams. These cash coins were modeled after the Chinese Tang dynasty era Kaiyuan Tongbao (開元通寶, Gaewon Tongbo) cash coins.

The first series of Joseon Tongbo cash coins ceased production only briefly after its introduction due to a lack of raw materials as well as the exchange rate having fallen to less than the intrinsic value of the coinage making them financially unattractive.

The Kings of Joseon were consistently creating new legislation aimed at promoting coins and promoted their manufacture to be widely used. Through these measures, the monarchs hoped to dispel the general mistrust that the Korean people had towards coinage and they also hoped that these decrees would boost the value of Korean cash coins.

Following the Japanese invasions of Korea it had become more necessary for there to be circulating coinage in Korea, this was needed in order to both procure military supplies and secure the national finances.



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Hartill 25.73 Ancient Korean Choson Tong Bo 1423 AD Sejong 世 宗of the Yi Dynasty