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Vietnam (Annam) Privately minted cash

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Vietnam (Annam) Cash Coins

Annam has a long history of manufacturing cash coins. This page includes some examples of the official mintings of the various rulers.

However, note that Southeast Asia has very rich tradition of private and semi-private mintings. The private mintings of coins are so diverse that amongst East Asian cash collectors many coins of unknown provenance are arbitrarily assigned to Annam cash catalogues and lists. Many coins in the "private" mint section of Annam catalogues were likely made in China, Malaysia, Indonesia and other regions.

There exists a very handy online reference tool for Vietnam coins at http://art-hanoi.com/toda/online.html. and also a very good page (in French) devoted to Vietnam coins at http://www.transasiart.com/Numismatique/numismatique.htm run by the expert Francois Thierry.

According to Touyou kosen zuroku (Anasendou 1977) the government minted coins of Annam start around the year 970 with the Dai Binh Hung Bao which is a rare coin. The next in the series is the Thien Phuc Tran Bao minted from 980-1010 and which is relatively common. The last cash coins minted by the main government of Annam was in 1929. There are 59 basic issues of coins over this long period, not counting the many variants. Below are a few examples. Private mintings probably were common until much later, as cash coins circulated until relatively recently in Southeast Asia.

Thien Bing Hung Bao

This coin was minted between 970 and 979. It is the first coin in the official series of Annamese dynastic coins. The Hung character of this coin is very unorthodox. On the reverse side above the hole is the character Dinh ’š which is the name of the dynasty which lasted briefly from 968-981.

23.5 mm x 1 mm

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Thien Phuc Tran Bao

This coin was minted between 980 and 1010. The example here is a little beat at the rim but the back character shows nicely. The Le character on the back is the name of the short lived Le Dynasty of 981-1010.

24.1mm x 0.9mm

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Thien Phuc Tran Bao

This coin was minted between 980 and 1010. The example here is unfortunately very worn so the characters are difficult to see.

23.5mm x1mm

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Dien Ninh Thong Bao

This coin was minted from 1454-1458 by the 4th king of the Le dynasty (1428-1785). Like most 15th and 16th century Le coins, it is generally a beautifully made coin with crisp calligraphy. It is also quite common and easy to get hold of an example.

24.5 mm x 1.2 mm

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Thien Hung Thong Bao

This coin was minted only in1459 and is rather uncommon. As with other coins of this era the coin is crisp and the characters are deep.

24mm x 1.1mm

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Hong Duc Thong Bao

This coin was minted1470-1497. It was given to me a good coin collector friend. I am rather sure that it is a mother coin because it is of extremely fine make, the character and rim edges are vertical and deep, and the coin is slightly larger than the rubbing in my source text the Touyou kosen zuroku (Anasendou 1977). It is no larger on the outside than the similar circulating coin below, but measuring across the inside of the rim it is slightly larger. The metal seems to have a high nickel content.

25mmx1.2mm

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Hong Duc Thong Bao

This coin was minted1470-1497 and is a circulating coin minted from a mother coin such as the one above.

25mmx1.1mm

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Canh Thong Thong Bao

This coin was minted 1498-1503. It was given to me by a good coin collector friend. It has suffered some damage but it may be a mother coin because it is of extremely fine make, the character and rim edges are vertical and deep, and the coin is slightly larger than the rubbing in my source text. The metal seems to contain more copper than the Hong Duc Thong Bao. However coins of this era in Annam are generally of extraordinarily fine make.

24.5mm x1.1mm

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Thoai KhanhThong Bao

This coin was minted from 1505-1509. It is uncommon. This coin is very thick.

25 mm x 1.8 mm

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Chanh Dai Thong Bao

This coin was minted from 1530-1540 and is rather uncommon. This version is the "small character, small hole" variety, and the coin itself is rather small. I like this coin because like many other Annam coins, by chance, it has a name like a Japanese era name.

22 mm x 1.4 mm

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Nguyen Hoa Thong Bao

This coin was minted 1533-1548. I like the quirky style of the characters. I also like this coin because it has the same legend as a Japanese coin from 1617, the rare Genna Tsuuhou. This coin itself is uncommon.

24 mm x 1 mm

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Nguyen Hoa Thong Bao

This is another example of the coin above. It has apparently been dug up and is covered in a fine sand. The colors are just like the sandstone back at the home of my youth in West Virginia.

24 mm x 1 mm

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Thai Binh Thong Bao, reverse star

This coin was minted from 1737, more or less at the same time as the Canh Hung Thong Bao below. This one has a single star on the back above the hole.

24 mm x 1 mm

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Thai Binh Thong Bao, reverse "ichi so"

This coin was minted from 1737, more or less at the same time as the Canh Hung Thong Bao below. This coin has markings on the back which are not exactly like what I can find in the catalogues, but coins are filled with variety in this era in Vietnam. On the back of this coin at the top is the character for "one" and on the bottom an arrow shape not too unlike the recognized variety (in Japanese: hai so) of a left dot over a diagonal line. Maybe this is that type.

23.5 mm x 1 mm

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Canh Hung Thong Bao, reverse "Kinh"

This coin was minted 1740-1776 and has more basic variants than any other Annam royal issue. Many of the variants substitute other words for "circulating cash" "thongbao." These include words which mean "important cash," "large cash," "giant cash," "eternal cash," "true cash," "central cash," "inner cash," "spring of cash," "fat cash," and "the ultimate in cash." It certainly is the ultimate in cash. There are so many that I have put some examples on a separate page for Canh Hung coins.

24 mm x 1 mm

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Canh Hung Thuan Bao

This "orderly cash" looks like one of the Canh Hung variants but is listed as a subsequent coin minted from 1776-1787.

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Chieu Thong Thong Bao

This coin was minted in 1787. It has quite a few versions with different characters on the reverse side.

24 mm x 1 mm

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Chieu Thong Thong Bao, reverse Chanh

This coin was minted in 1787. This version has the character Chanh on the reverse side, which refers to the upper provinces of Tunquin.

25 mm x 1 mm

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Chieu Thong Thong Bao, reverse Trung on top

This coin was minted in 1787. This version has the character Trung on the reverse side, which refers to the province of Thanh-hoa. This coin is more uncommon than the one with Trungplaced under the hole.

25 mm x 1 mm

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This coin was minted from 1788-1792. It has many different varieties of reverse side markings. This one here is plain which is common, but has a very thick outer rim which is less common.

22.2 mm x 0.8 mm

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Canh Thinh Thong Bao

This coin was issued 1793-1800. This variant has four octagons on the reverse. I bought this in a coin fair in Santa Barbara. The coin holder had a notation which says"'Water lily money' given to Buddhist temples, ex. Rev. Harris collection"

23mmx.7mm

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Than Thai Thong Bao, reverse Tap Van

This coin was issued in 1889-1906. This version with "10 wen" written on the back is quite common.

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Duy Tan Thong Bao, reverse Tap Van

This coin was issued 1907-1915. The name of this coin means "renovation" It is read Ishin in Japanese and may be a reference to copy the success of Japan's Meiji Restoration, the Meiji Ishin.

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