Ancient Korean Sang Pyong Tong Bo Mint Hojo, Treasury Department 1678 Cash Coin
Ancient Korean Coin
Sang Pyong Tong Bo - 1 Mun Cash
Hojo, Treasury Department, 1678
Reference: Hartill 25.74
Obv: 常平通寶 Sang Pyong Tong Bo
Rev: Mint 户, One
户曹 Hojo, Treasury Department, 1678
Symbols, Numbers and Special Characters
In addition to the mint mark which was placed at the top (above the square hole) of the coin's reverse side, many sang pyong tong bo coins display other symbols as well. These markings began to appear in the year 1742 and are believed to indicate "furnace" or "series" numbers. Many of the coins simply show a Chinese number. But the sang pyong tong bo coins are unique in that they also use several other methods to express "numbers". For example, some coins have dots, circles, crescents, horizontal lines, and vertical lines. "Dots" represent "stars". "Circles" represent the "sun". "Crescents" represent the "moon". The "horizontal lines" represent the "earth" and the "vertical lines" represent "man".
"Sang Pyong Tong Bo" (常平通寶) Coins
Beginning in the year 1633 AD during the reign of King Injo (仁 祖) of the Yi Dynasty (Choson, Chosun, Joseon Dynasty 李紀), the "Stabilization Office" (Sangpyongchong 常平廳), which was a famine relief office, began to cast coins utilizing the first two characters of the office name 常 平 (sang pyong, sang p'yŏng) in the coin inscription 常 平通寶 (sang pyong tong bo, sang p'yŏng t'ong bo, sangpyungtongbo 상 평통보; Chinese pinyin: chang ping tong bao).
The inscription can be translated as "always even currency". The reverse side of these first coins was blank. The coin at the left is an example of a sang pyong tong bo (常 平通寶) coin. In 1651, King Hyojong (孝宗) issued a decree ordering the people to use the coin and prohibiting them from using cloth as money.
Sang pyong tong bo coins were cast in four denominations: One Mun (Value One), Two Mun (Value Two), Five Mun (Value Five) and One Hundred Mun (Value One Hundred). The mun was the Korean equivalent of the wen (文) or "cash" coin ("leaf money", "leaf coin" yŏpchŏn, yupjun 葉錢) of China and the mon (文) of Japan. This is a Two Mun ("Value Two" dangijun 當二錢) sang pyong tong bo coin. Two mun coins began being cast in 1679. The two mun coins have a diameter of 27-29 mm.