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Hartill 3.14 Early China Arched Foot Spade Coin Fen Bu, Spade Coin Of Fen 400 BC

Hartill 3.14 Early China Arched Foot Spade Coin Fen Bu, Spade Coin Of Fen 400 BC


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




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%.

  • Arched foot spades: This type has an arched crutch, often like an inverted U. The shoulders can be rounded or angular. Denominations of half, one, or two jin are normally specified. They are associated with the State of Liang (also known as Wei) which flourished between 425 and 344 BC, and the State of Han (403-230 BC).

  • Special spades of Liang: Similar in shape to the Arched Foot spades. Their inscriptions have been the subject of much debate. All are now agreed that these coins were issued by the State of Liang, and the inscriptions indicate a relationship between the jin weight of the coins, and the lie, another unit of weight or money.

"AN-YI"A mint designation. ANYI was a city in central China that was part of the Liang (Wei) dynasty during the 4th century BC but had been under the Ch'in dynasty earlier.
"LIANG"A mint designation. LIANG was a city in the state of Liang (Wei) to which the capital was moved later in the 4th century BC.
"BAN JIN" or "ER BAI DANG LIE"Denomination marks indicating a value of 1/2 Jin or 200 to the Lie.
"YI JIN" or "BAI DANG LIE"Denomination marks indicating a value of 1 Jin or 100 to the Lei.
"ER JIN" or "WU SHI DANG LIE"Denomination marks indicating a value of 2 Jin or 50 to the Lei.




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Hartill 3.14 Early China Arched Foot Spade Coin Fen Bu, Spade Coin Of Fen 400 BC

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