China Imperial Coinage- The Red Cash of Sinkiang (Xinjiang Province) - 10 Cash from the Late-Qing Dynasty

Today's post is THE FIRST in the series of cast copper cash from the Qing Dynasty. Here, I present a pair of Sinkiang Province coins!
  • We will discuss the "Red Cash" series of coins that were unique to Sinkiang Province. 
  • The numerous minting furnaces and regions that produced such coins from this province. 
  • Specific coin remarks on the condition and details on my pair of coins.
  • Introduction to the ruler and dynasty in regards to Sinkiang Province.
  • Specific information on variety, rarity, and denomination of my pair. 
  • Other additional or supplemental information, e.g catalogs, websites, scholarly sources, etc. 

Reverse: A "Red Cash" coin from the Kuche Mint of Sinkiang Province.

RIGHT: 光緒通寶  

新 十               Manchurian Script (Left and Right)
RIGHT:           庫 十            Manchurian Script (Left and Right)

General Overview:

Date: c1886-1906
Dynasty: Qing (1644-1911)
Province + Mint: Sinkiang, Urumchi
Emperor/Ruler: Guang Xu (1875-1908)
Denomination: 10 Cash 
Catalog: Hartill's Qing Cash 28.71X (3 Dots in 緒. Cannot find the right Manchu script. Mine has an additional line.)
Composition: Red Copper 
Weight: WIP
Size: WIP
Rarity: 8 or 9
Date: c1892-1908
Dynasty: Qing (1644-1911)
Province + Mint: Sinkiang, Kucha/Kuche 
Emperor/Ruler: Guang Xu (1875-1908)
Denomination: 10 Cash 
Catalog: Hartill's Qing Cash 28.472-6 (5 Forms) - Normal BOO
Composition: Red Copper
Weight: WIP
Size: WIP
Rarity: 8

My Coin Remarks:

Both of my coins are circulated and thus, are worn. On the obverse of both coins, we see the standard "光緒通寶," which denotes "Universal Currency from the Guang Xu Reign." These four characters are very standard on the cast cash coins of the entire Qing Dynasty, from the first emperor, Shun Zhi to the last emperor Hsuan Tung (Puyi). For these coins, on the obverse, the only Chinese characters that would change would be the top and bottom characters, denoting the emperor who was reigning when such coin was produced. 

For example and as reference:

  • 光緒 (Characters on the top and bottom) denotes Emperor Guang Hsu, who reigned from 1875-1908.
  • 宣統 (Characters on the top and bottom) denotes Emperor Hsuan Tung, or Puyi, who reigned from 1908-1911.
  • 通寶 (Characters on the left and right) denotes "Universal Currency," which denotes the common everyday currency used throughout the Qing Dynasty. 

Nevertheless, the my coins' obverses exhibit wear from circulation. We can tell from the worn out Chinese characters. They are not fully worn so we are still able to discern each individual character. For instance, I am able to tell how many dots (3 or 4) make up the left side of the 緒 character, vital for differentiating between several varieties. 

On the reverses' of both my coins, the wear is exhibited as well. However, despite the circulation, we are able to discern both the Manchurian scripts, which denote the Sinkiang Province, as well as the two Chinese characters, which denote the denomination (10 cash) and the mintmark. The rims of the coins are not sharply struck, a bit mushy, to be honest. However, this is the nature of the cast currency that was used for thousands of years in China. 

On both sides of the coins, we can see the red color of the copper that was utilized uniquely from Sinkiang Province. They are not like the yellowish and shiny-like brass used in other provinces. Furthermore, one must bear in mind that the quality of the cast coppers from Sinkiang was poor in quality, compared to ones struck in the Kwangtung and Central (Tientsin, Board of Works, Board of Revenue, etc) mints. This is because of the quality of the metal and the minting equipment like the furnaces and trees. This is certainly not modern equipment where polished dies and presses were used. 

Overall, with my judgement and attribution, these two coins would be graded at a F to a VF condition. We are able to discern all characters on both sides, for each respective coin. 

I will discuss the unique attributes and characteristics of Sinkiang coins and mints, in general in the upcoming sections below. 

Sinkiang Province Background:

Sinkiang Province is now known as Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Historically, it has been a province of the various dynasties that ruled China, and for these coins, the Qing Dynasty. Nevertheless, today, this autonomous region is in the Northwest region of the People's Republic of China and has the capital at Urumqi (which was also the mint of one of the coins!). According to Wikipedia, the region "is home to a number of ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Han, Kazakhs, Tibetans, Hui, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Mongols, Russians and Xibe," and the Uyghurs are a focal point for today's current events. I will not get to that contentious topic here as this portion is for general background.

Map showing the location of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

"Red Cash"

The term, "Red Cash" refers to the coinage materials that was used extensively by the mints of Sinkiang Province throughout all the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. This was because Sinkiang cast coins were from copper, rather than the more shiny and lighter brass used by the other provincial mints of Qing China. Furthermore, the natural resources of Sinkiang Province warranted the use of reddish copper because it was much more extensive than other provinces. 

According to Wikipedia's article on Qing Dynasty coinage from Sinkiang, these Sinkiang cash were "nearly made of pure copper [, and] the new cash coins created from them would become red in colour earning them the nickname of "Red Cash."' Furthermore, the retention of the unique red color was because it was "beyond the skills of the primitive Chinese metallurgists to remove the non-copper from the coinage," which included the lead and zinc impurities. 

Within numismatic history, the Red Cash coins were introduced sometime around 1760, at the denomination of 10 cash, and was exchangeable with the standard cash coins used by other provinces. The last "red cash" coins were issued in 1909, during the reign of the last Qing Emperor, Hsuan Tung or Puyi. Please note that there was extensive milled copper cash coins from the late-late Qing Dynasty (Hsuan Tung). Also, soon after the Qing demise, milled Republican coins were much more prevalent. 

Specific Mint Information (From David Hartill's Qing Cash):

LEFT COIN'S - URUMCHI MINT also known as the TIHWA or DIHUA Mint. 
The first mint was opened during the reign of Emperor Hsien Feng, who reigned from 1851-1861. There was a redesign in the weight of the cast coins from this mint in 1857, where the weight was increased. During the reign of Guang Hsu, who reigned from 1875-1908, the mint was reopened. It was fully operational to August of 1886. In September of 1908, there was a change where the production of cast copper cash was stopped and replaced with milled copper cash and silver miscals, just like the provinces in the Chinese interior. 

The Kuche Mint (庫車 in Chinese texts) was situated in copper producing areas before the Hsien Feng era. Before this era, circulating coins was produced by the nearby Aksu mint. The Kuche Mint produced during the Tung Chih period, but there was a hiatus in 1863 because of a local ethnic revolt. Thus, for a certain time, there was some domestic rebel coinage with Arabic inscriptions. Following the quashing of the rebellion, the Kuche Mint produced Qianlong Era coins (restrikes) on the orders of the Governor-general of Shaanxi and Gansu (Zuo Zhongtang, who oversaw those nearby provinces). In April of 1878, there were regulations issued, where there was a standardization of the coin at the weight of 1.3 qian. The last coin was issued in 1909, under the reign of Hsuan Tung. 

See Also:

Sinkiang Coins and Currency:

On Xinjiang:

Personal Coins: