Coins Of Emperor Wang Mang: 1 Cash Huò Quán (Xin Dynasty, 14-23 CE)-Article

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

This small single-sided has been identified as a Huò Quán (Wealth Coin). The coin is estimated to been of 1 cash value. Coins of this type were issued under the Warlord-Emperor Wang Mang (王莽), during the short-lived Xin Dynasty (9-23 CE) from 14-23 CE. Who notoriously overthrew the Western Han Dynasty (202 BCE-9 CE), installing himself as the sole Emperor of the Xin Dynasty.


Until his beheading by peasant rebels of the Lulin (綠林, 'green forest") uprising. During the ransacking of the Imperial Place in Chang'an ("Perpetual Peace"), on October 23 CE. Leading to the installation of Liu Xuan (? BCE-25 CE), the Gengshi Emperor (更始帝). Who himself was labeled a usurer and overthrown. By Liu Xiu (5 BCE-57 CE) after defeating the peasant rebels of the Chìméi (赤眉, 'red eyebrows") Rebellion. Thus restoring the (Eastern) Han Dynasty (25 CE-220 CE), as Emperor Guangwu.


Despite this elaborate back story, the coin is fairly simple. The coin is a cash type, cast from bronze which has blacked over the millennia. The coin's diameter is 22 mm (0.866 in) wide, slightly larger than a US Penny. Average weight for coin of this type is reputed to be 3.24 g, mostly due to it's generally thick profile.


Although it should be noted the Xin Dynasty issued a wide degree of currencies. With this coin type being issued during the 'Third Reform", in an effort to bring stability. This wide range included cowrie shells, reintroduced Han Dynasty Wu Zhu coins, to exotic types such as Bù Bì (Spade Money) and the impressive Yi Dao Ping Wu Qian (One Knife Worth Five Thousand).


Observe

The observe features 2 characters, representing 泉貨 (Huò Quán) or "wealth coin". It should be noted that early Chinese coinage featured abstract forms of Hanzi characters. Unlike the later coinage of Chinese history, such as the successful Tang Dynasty Kāiyuán Tōngbǎo. Notably this example has a rim, although some example may omit the observe or both rims.


Reverse

The reverse is blank, like uniface coins of the period. Unlike the observe, the reserve inner rim is shallower. Being broader and beveled in it's shape. While the outer "rim" (on both sides) flares outward with a beveled edge. A small imperfection from the casting can be seen along the right rim. Such imperfection were usually filed off between casting and circulation.


Just as the observe this example features portions of green patina. Which can easily been seen at the 6 and 7 o'clock position. Notably this particular example has been cleaned up as a reference piece. The partial patina has been intentionally left, for display purposes.

A portrait of the warlord Wang Mang (45 BCE-23 CE). The sole Emperor of the Xin Dynasty (9-23 CE).
A portrait of Emperor Wang Mang.

Size Comparison


Additional Notes

  • All non-currency related photos were provided by Wikimedia, support Copyleft License.

  • Wealth Coins circulated with the similar Bù Quán (Spade Coin), with it's unique needle script.

  • The Chìméi rebels were named after their distinct use of red eyebrow make-up, in battle.

  • The Lǜlín rebels were named for their tendency to travel the countryside for wild plants.

  • Both Chìméi and Lǜlín rebels were motivated by famine, caused by failed land reforms.

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