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Hartill 13.1 CHINA SUNG DYNASTY Emperor WEN AD 424-453 Si Zhu - Four Zhu Coin



Emperor WEN AD 424-453

Si Zhu - Four Zhu Coin

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Reference: Hartill 13.1


S-215. Obverse: "SSU-SHU" (four shu). Reverse: blank. Well cast coin. Schjoth says that these have with complete rims except for the inner obverse, but the last two specimens we examined did not have an inner rim on the reverse.

Average 22.7 mm, 3.3 grams.

AD 420-479

After overthrowing Eastern Chin, Liu Yu took the name Wu Ti as first emperor of the Sung Dynasty. The family of Liu gradually lost power until, in AD 477, general Hsiao Tao Ch'eng killed Emperor Ming Ti, usurping power and placing Chouen Ti on the throne as a puppet emperor but in turn killing him in AD 479 and proclaimed himself first Emperor of the Southern Ch'i dynasty.

Emperor WEN
AD 424-453

Reign title: YUAN-CHIA (AD 424 - 453)

Schjoth (page 16) records "In the 7th year of Yuan-chia (AD 430) a minting department was created for the casting of the Ssu-shu (four shu) coins. The expenses of casting being gratuitous, there was no occasion for illicit casting by the public". This tells us illicit casting was common enough to require measures be taken to stop it, and that it is fairly certain these coins date to this period. (We assume Schjoth based this passage on an ancient record, but he does not reference it.)

Schjoth's specimens weight 2.68 and 2.96 grams, the standard weight of a Wu-shu and giving an average 0.70 grams per shu, very close to the official weight (as opposed to a coinage weight) of 0.65 grams per shu, established during the Zhou dynasty. From this we conclude they were meant to displace a slightly substandard regular Wu Shu coinage. If cast to replace a fiduciary coinage, a standard Wu- shu would have been good enough.

Since a new minting department had to be established, probably none already existed, so these are probably the earliest coinage of the Sung Dynasty. If the regular Wu-shu in circulation were not cast by Sung, they must have been cast during the later years of the Eastern Chin.

Schjoth (page 16) speaks of a problem of counterfeiting of the Ssu-shu coinage, so it was proposed to cast Wu Shu of eight shu weight. He lists S-217 as being such a coin, but at 3.5 grams and 2.6 mm, it is at the upper range of the weight and size of a regular Wu-shu and far from the 5.2 grams that an eight shu weight requires. Another such coin is listed by Ding Fubao as FD-66, but no weight is given. At this time we cannot confirm any such coins actually exist and have found no evidence that the proposal was even acted upon. Even if such coins had been cast, it is unlikely many would have survived, as one could expect them to be melted down as a source of metal for casting regular weight Wu-shu at a good profit. Further support for this is that there is no doubt that Ssu-shu were cast in the following reign title.




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Hartill 13.1 CHINA SUNG DYNASTY Emperor WEN AD 424-453 Si Zhu - Four Zhu Coin AN