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Hartill 6.22 Yan State Ming Four SQUARE-HOLED ROUND COIN 300-220 BC.


Spring and Autumn period


The coin was cast in the ancient state of Yan during the period 300-220 BC.


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Reference: Hartill 6.22

State of Yan (300-220 BC)

Ming Si (Ming Four [hua])

The Ming character is the same as that found on the Ming Knives.


Early square-holed round coins seem to be found exclusively in areas associated with knife money. They come in two distinct series, the relatively common "MING" types that appear to be related to the ming knifes, and the much scarcer "I" series which seem to represent the issues of a single mint called "I". The only inscriptions they have is their monetary designation of "HUO", a character which has come to mean "knife money", but which had also become a unit of denomination by the time these coins were issued.

Dating this series is difficult, although it is likely that they are much later than the round hole coins with which they have very little in common and are probably not related. It is possible, and for the "I" types even probable, that they were cast in the late Ch'in or Han periods and should not be included in this discussion of Zhou period coins. It is also likely that the earliest Pan Liang coins (currently discussed under the Ch'in Dynasty) predate the Ming and "I" round coins and should be included here.

The Ming Huo and the smaller Yi Huo coins appear to be derived from the Ming knifes, although it is not certain that even these two issues belong together.

The Ming Huo are robust castings with slightly crude characters and no rims. There is little doubt the character "Ming" is the same as on the ming knifes, although the meaning is still a mystery. There has been debate over the character "HUO" on these, but Wang makes a good case for this reading. What is less clear is how "HUO" is meant to be interpreted. It may imply these coins were equivalent to a ming knife (or some implied fraction thereof), in which case they could have been issued alongside or just after the knife series, at the end of the Zhou period. "HUO" could also be meant as a monetary unit (as it clearly is on the Yi huo coins) in which case these were probably issued long after the ming knifes, probably during the early Han dynasty. This is something that will probably only be answered by the study of hoard evidence.




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Hartill 6.22 Yan State Ming Four SQUARE-HOLED ROUND COIN 300-220 BC. ANCIENT CH