Flat handled spade money, Pre-Imperial
Fen Bu , meaning (Spade coin of Fen) 400 BC
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Reference: Hartill 3.14
Obverse: Fen Bu , meaning (Spade coin of Fen)
Weight: 9 grams; Size: 63 mm x 35 mm
"heavy spade">HEAVY FLAT SPADES OF THE STATE OF LIANG (Wei)
Around 400 BC flat spades revolutionized the spade currency. Unlike the hollow-handled spades which required a complex multi-piece mold with a casting core in the handle, the flat spades required only a simple two-piece mold, allowing for larger mintages in shorter periods of time. They were sturdy, easier to store and were cast in the three denominations of 1/2, 1 and 2 "jin", making them very suitable for use in everyday transactions. Most of the the early issues name the city of Anyi which was the State of Liang capital early in this period. The later issues usually name the city of Liang to which the capital of the stater of Liang was moved later in the period. There are some very scarce types which name other cities. The denomination can be expressed either directly in jin, or as fractions of the LI with 100 to the LI equal a Jin. This is probably the period when coins came into common use over a wide area of China. Early flat foot spades were called "CH'IEN, which later became a generic term for all types of money.
These have lost the hollow handle of the early spades. They nearly all have distinct legs, suggesting that their pattern was influenced by the pointed shoulder Hollow Handled Spades, but had been further stylized for easy handling. They are generally smaller, and sometimes have denominations specified in their inscriptions as well as place names. This, together with such little evidence as can be gleaned from the dates of the establishment of some of the mint towns, show that they were a later development. Archaeological evidence dates them to the Warring States period (475-221 BC). Arched Foot spades have an alloy consisting of about 80% copper; for other types the copper content varies between 40% and 70%.