Guang Xu Emperor Tibet Silver Rupee
Szechuan Mint 1905-1912 AD
Size: 30.9 mm; Weight: 11.58 grams; Material: Silver
The obverse of this coin bears a portrait of Emperor Kuang Hsu (without collar). This rupee is known as the Szechuan rupee coin by the Chinese collectors. A vertical rosette is located in the center. This coin belongs to the early minted type. This coin is more valuable than a common Szechuan Rupee of the same condition in the coin shop, it is because it bears the Emperor's portrait without collar.
Guang Xu Emperor
Tibet Silver Szechuan Rupee 1905-1912 AD
Western idea of Tibet is somewhere distant and exotic, yet in the markets of Tibet; Yunnam and Szechuan Provinces of China were flooded with Indian Rupee or other foreign coins during the early 20th century, the 四川總督 Governor General of Szechuan Province of China, 錫良 "Hsi Liang" and his assistant 趙爾豐 "Chao I-Feng" ( 永寧道台 Yung Ning Tao T'ai), decided to mint a new type of silver coin which is similar to 爐關 "Lu Kuang" silver coins. The new coinage was known as 四川盧比 Szechuan Rupee, (also known as Tibet Rupee) it served as a counter-measure to resist the influx of the foreign currency. [Szechuen Rupee is also known as 藏洋 "T'sang Yang"; 藏元 "T'sang Yuan"; 川卡 "Chuen Ch'ia"; 藏幣 "T'sang Pi" and洋錢 "Yang Chien"]
In the 31st year of Emperor Kuang Hsu reign of the Qing dynasty, (1905AD) Chengtu Mint of Szechuen Province according to the form of Indian Rupee minted 3 kinds of silver coin in denominations of 1 Rupee (weighing 3.6 maces with 90% silver), half Rupee (weighing 1.6 maces with 86% silver) and quarter Rupee (weighing 0.9 maces with 82% silver). The Szechuan Rupee had on its obverse the half-length portrait of Emperor Kuang Hsu. It may be the earliest coin that carried the portrait of an emperor in China. [SCOWC (page 1709) stated that similar crown size pieces struck in silver and gold are fantasies. Refer to Unusual World Coins, 2nd edition.]
[Another sources suggest that the Szechuan Rupee was first minted in the 28th year of Emperor Kuang Hsu reign of the Qing dynasty (1902AD), but as I know that 錫良 "Hsi Liang" took over the 四川總督 Governor General of Szechuan Province in 1903 and 趙爾豐 "Chao I-Feng" who followed "Hsi Liang" as 永寧道台 "Yung Ning Tao T'ai" in 1903 and to be the 建昌道台 Kien Chang Tao T'ai in 1905. It is impossible that they would mint the coins before they had reached Szechuan Province.劉廷恕 "Liu Ting Shu", 打箭爐同知 Sub-Prefect of "Ta Chien LU" (今四川康定 now K'ang Ting district), who minted 爐關 "Lu Kuang" silver coins in order to boycott the foreign coins in Szechuan Province in 1901. This may be misunderstood that Szechuen Rupee was first minted in 1902.]
The coinage of Szechuan Rupee continued to be struck as recently as the 33rd year of the Republic, 1944, but with lowered puresilver content.
I am very surpriing that the use of Szechuan Rupee as media of exchange had lasted until 1st April 1958 in some districts (甘孜藏族自治州 Kan Tzu Tibetan Autonomous Region) of Szechuan province. When the Notice of the 關於嚴格管理外國貨物和禁止金銀流通的規定 "Regulation of the Management of Foreign Goods and the Forbidden of Gold and Silver Currency" posted by 甘孜藏族自治州人民委員會 "People's committee of the Kan Tzu Tibetan Autonomous Region" on 1st April 1958, Szechuan Rupee was forbidden using as legal tender again. The use of Szechuan Rupee as media of exchange had lasted for half century.
Amendment about the silver coins using in China
According to the "Tentative Measures Concerning the Management of Gold & Silver and the Ban on Circulation of Foreign Currency in the Tibet Autonomous Region" issued by the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region on 10 May, 1962, the circulation of silver coins on the currency market in China came to an end should be on 10 May, 1962.
The Mintage of Szechuan Rupee
I give below is a rough estimate of the mintage of Szechuan Rupee. From the table, we know that the total mintage of Szechuan Rupee are about $25,500,000 to $27,500,000 from 1905 to 1943. According to the estimation of some Chinese scholars, there are about $3,500,000 Szechuan Rupee still in circulation in the market during 1952, and the amount reduced to $2,000,000 in 1958. Chinese Government withdrew about $1,000,000 Szechuan Rupee in 1958. During the circulation for half century, many Szechuan Rupee had continuously been collected or melted down for its silver content. Some of the coins (especially those in lower denominations) were kept as ornament by the ladies of Tibetan or other nomads. The surviving of Szechuan Rupee became rare today.
On the other hand, Szechuan Rupee were cut into 2 or 4 pieces, served as Half Rupee and Quarter Rupee during 1911, due to the insufficient supply of the low denomination coins. Cutting coins were colloquially called 'cho-tang' by the Tibetans or called 宰口藏洋 "Tsai-K'ou T'sang-Yang" by the Han.
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