Northern Song Dynasty
Emperor CHE TSUNG 1086-1100 AD
Reign title: SHAO-SHENG-YUAN-BAO, 1094-1097 AD
Li Script with YUAN BAO
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Reference: Hartill 16.306, Li Script, 1 Cash size
Schjoth records that the "Book of Economical Economy of Sung" (v. Hui-k'ao, vol iv p. 24a) states: "During the first years of the Shao-sheng style, the copper coins were daily becoming more scarce, while the iron ones were increasing numerous, a thousand copper-cash were received in exchange of two thousand five hundred of iron."
This is an interesting passage. It appears bronze coins were being issued at their metal value of about 3.5 grams per cash (see below), but the 11-12 gram iron 2 cash had been demonetized (or people refused to accept them) and were trading at their scrap iron value. Two and a half iron 2 cash, between 27.5 and 30 grams of iron, were exchangeable for a 3.5 gram copper 1 cash (an 8 or 9 to 1 ratio). This supports our earlier belief that iron was worth about 10% of copper and that this had changed little by the late Northern Sung period.
The government's response was to withdraw the iron 2 cash coins, although it appears that iron 1 cash were still cast and accepted. We find no evidence of iron 2 cash being cast again during the balance of the Northern Sung period, but some brief but unsuccessful attempts at other denominations did occur.
S-582, 585, 586, 591. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: "SHAO-SHENG YUAN-BAO" in seal and grass scripts. Reverse blank. Average (4 specimens) 24.5 mm, average 3.90 grams (excluding S-585 which at only 21 mm and 1.82 grams is probably a contemporary counterfeit).
583-584, 587-590. Bronze 1 cash. Obverse: "SHAO-SHENG YUAN-BAO" in seal and grass scripts. Reverse: a variety of crescents and dots. Average (6 specimens) 24.5 mm, 3.87 grams. We have no records of values for these, but they should be worth some premium over the blank-reverse type.
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