Guangdong Dragon Copper Coin The First Dragon Copper in Chinese History 1900 AD
Kwangtung Dragon Copper Coin
The First One Cent Copper Coin in Chinese History
Years 1900-1906 AD
For the shortage of the old copper cash in the late Qing dynasty, the trandition casting method did not help economically to solve the problem. When Hongkong one cent copper coins were occasionaly in circulation with the value to ten cash coins in the local market of Kwangtung. The existence western style coinage in Hongkong directly influenced the Chinese mint authority. The Acting Viceroy of Kwangtung and Kwangsi Province, Te Shou 德壽consulted with Li Hung-chang 李鸿章, his predecessor, decided to mint a new model copper coin called "T'ung Yuan" 铜元. "T'ung Yuan" was first minted in Kwangtung in the 26th year of the Kuang Hsu reign (1900AD). This coin was minted by machine without hole in the center. It was equivalent to ten cash at the early beginning. The use of copper to make one "T'ung Yuan" is equal to six old cash coin only. The "T'ung Yuan" was quiet welcomed by the population for its convenience compared with the old cash coins. The Chinese government also encourage other provinces to follow the good example of Kwangtung in order to solve the fiscal problem. Other provinces found it was profitable to mint "T'ung Yuan", they vied with each other to do the same business of minting the new coins. For the over-supply of the new copper coins, this caused the value of "T'ung Yuan" declined in the rate of exchange with silver dollars. In 1911, Its rate of exchange to the silver dollar was approximately dropped to 180 to 1 from 100 to 1 of the early beginning.
This coin was first minted in Kwangtung Coin Bureau in 1900. Kwangtung Coin Bureau was founded in Canton City, (now Huang Hua Road, Canton) by Chang Chih-tung 张之洞, the viceroy of the Kwangtung and Kwangsi Provinces on 7 Mar 1887, the 13th year of the Kuang Hsu reign. The Mint was completed in Feb 1889. Machines were supplied by the Heatons Mint in London. On the obverse of this coin, four big Chinese characters inside beaded circle means Kuang Hsu valuable coin and the two Manchu characters in centre are "Pao Kwang". In the outer circle, Chinese characters above means made in Kwangtung Province, and the six Chinese characters below means every hundred equivalent to one dollar; two small stars on each side. On the reverse is the emblem of flaming dragon flying in clouds inside the beaded circle. In the outer circle, is the English inscriptions and two small stars on each side. An important thing I must point out that the dies were changed in 1904, This means that the same design Kwangtung "T'ung Yuan" is not so many existing today. [The standard content of "T'ung Yuan" in 1900: weighted 2 mace 錢 or 0.2 tael 兩, with 95% copper, 4% lead and 1% tin ]