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Strange private cash

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Vietnam (Annam) Privately Minted Coins

Southeast Asia has very rich tradition of private and semi-private, and rebel mintings, and its history is not yet well understood. These 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, but I will follow precedent by discussing them on this page.

I have been particularly attracted to the small privately minted coins referred to in Japanese as terui sen Žč—Ž‘K and, I think, in English as "floaters," but some of these coins are as large and well made as imperial Annam issues. As my education is mostly through Japanese language sources (primarily Touyou kosen zuroku (Anasendou 1977)) I will use their terminology for describing Annam coins, although I will give the Vietnamese name of the coin itself where I can find out the reading. I am illiterate in Vietnamese but I hope there are no errors. People who can correct me please send me an email.

Concerning privately minted cash for which I do not find references, I have put them on a separate page; strange private cash.


Anpou te ˆĄ–@Žč

The most common type of these coins is the Anpo-te or Anpo Style. The coins of this style are commonly small (about 20 or 21 mm) and thin (about .5 mm) and the reverse of the coin is frequently flat and smooth. The coins below are some common examples.

An Phap Nguyen Bao

This An Phap Nguyen Bao (J. Anpou genpou) is the coin which gives the name to the Anpou style.



Thuong Nguyen Thong Bao

This coin is not based directly on any Chinese or Annamese dynastic coin but reads in Chinese Xiang Yuan Tong Bao.



Dai Hoa Thong Bao

The legend of this is coin is based upon the Annam ruler's Dai Hoa Thong Bao of 1443-1455. This is a handsome example



Nguyen Phong Thong Bao

Many privately minted coins are based loosely on Chinese or other cash coins. This is a version of the Chinese Yuan Feng Tong Bao made in Annam. It is a mere 20mm in width and thinner than .5 mm. of a variety called a "floater" in English because it is so thin it can sit on water. The relationship is, I think, less one of forgery than inspiration, for the original could never be confused with this coin. The script of this coin has alot of character. The bottom Tong character looks like it is riding on a serpent. Found in Java.

The typological subdivision of this coin in Japanese is Anpou te toranoo or Anpo style, tiger's tail



Nguyen Phong Thong Bao

This one is the same size as the one above and probably of the same general origin. The character is a strange mix of seal script, and formal script styles. Found in Java

The typological subdivison of this coin is Anpou te


Thieu Phong Binh Bao

This may be said to be loosely based on the official Annamese issue Thieu Phong Nguyen Bao of the 1340's.



Tai Thanh Binh Bao

This coin is very handsome and its manufacture seems similar to the Thieu Phong coin above.

21.2 mm x .5 mm


Tri Thanh Binh Bao

This coin's legend may be loosely based on the Song dynasty Ji Ping Yuan (and Tong) Bao of 1064-7.



Thien Thanh Nguyen Bao

This coin's legend may be loosely based on the Song dynasty Tien ShenYuan Bao of 1023-1031. This is a handsome example which shows the strange double xx of the Bao character.



Nguyen Phu Thong Bao

This one is written completely in the seal script except for the Phu character which is slightly cursive. Found in Java

The typological subdivison of this coin is Anpou te

21.5 mm x .5 mm


Thanh Thong Nguyen Bao

I like the Thong character in this coin, the inside of which is made of two climbing rows of dots.




Nguyen * Thong Bao

The legend of this coin, same as the Song dynasty Yuan You Tong Bao(1086-1093), is listed in my reference work as having an Anpou te type coin, but the book does not have a rubbing image of the coin. This coin fits the Anpou te style and is probably that to which the reference work refers.


Da Dinh Thong Bao

This coin is one of the nicest examples of Anpou-te coins which I own. Even though it is small and thin the characters are deeply cast and very clear. The legend is the same as that of a royal Annam issue of 1369-1370, or of a Jin Dynasty (north China) coin of 1178-.

20.5 x .5 mm




Tenpyou te “V•½Žč

Another very common type is known as the Tenpyou te or the Tenpyou style. The coins are small like the Anpo te but the central hole is usually larger and the rim on the reverse is more frequently visible. All of my examples of these coins seem to have a relatively low copper content and to be high in metals such as lead, tin and zinc. They may likely have been minted in Java and may indeed represent an official minting of a Javanese dynasty, as suggested by a Javanese friend of mine, but it is not recorded as such in the Japanese collector book whiich I depend upon and I am awaiting written sources to confirm this.

Nguyen Phong Thong Bao

This version of the Yuan Feng Tong Bao is made primarily of lead rather than copper. It is 21 mm in width and not quite a mm thick but more thick than the floaters. It was found in Java and the lead content suggests that it was made there as well. Lead was common in Java and very cheap. It was therefore the dominant metal in Javanese cash coins. The characters are very dynamic, but I did not catch them very well on the scan. I'll try to get a better image later.



Thuong Phong Thong Bao

This coin is a moderately uncommon variety. One of its special characteristics is that the Bao character is written in a moderately cursive form. The legend of the coin, in Chinese read Xiang Feng Tong Bao, is not based on any official issue of China or Annam.



Ham Binh Nguyen Bao

This coin is perhaps the most common of the Tenpyo style coins. The legend is based on the Northern Song Xian Ping Yuan Bao



Thien * Thong Bao

This coin's legend is based on the Song dynasty Tien (J. ki) Tong Bao (1017-1022). This coin is mostly copper and is thick for this type of coin.

21.5 mm x 1 mm


Thuong Fu Nguyen Bao

This small but well made coin is is based on the Northern Song Xiang Fu Yuan Bao (1008)




Shoufu te Š•„Žč

This terui type is medium small size and thickness, around 21-23 mm in width and .8 in thickness. One experienced Japanese coin collector told me that the coins are reddish and very slightly pocked as if lead etc. had boiled out. There are 25 varieties of this series but I do not own any that exactly fit the basic variety. Indeed I own only one which my friend tells me is almost certainly of this series as it has all of the basic characteristics, but the character shape is not the same.

Hoang Tong Thong Bao

I love the characters of this coin. They are both nicely written and "naive" at the same time. I have yet to find this exact coin in a reference catalogue. The legend is taken from the Chinese Huang Song Tong Bao of 1039-1053.

21.2 mm x 0.8 mm




Meisou te –¾‘vŽč

Many terui coins are large well made coins quite different from the floater types. The Meisou te are such a variety. I have two of the ten known varieties. The characters, most noticeably the Bao character, have a close affinity with the Annam royal issue Nguyen Hoa Thong Bao of 1533-1548 and the manufacture also looks as if it could reasonably be from the 16th century, but I am merely guessing.

Minh Ding Thong Bao

This is the coin which give this series its name--in Japanese Mei sou tei hou. The legend does not exist as such on any Chinese coin. The minh character is very nice.

24..5 mm x 1.2 mm


Tong Thong Nguyen Bao

I like the manufacture of this coin. and its rusty lookin patina is lovely too. Not magnetic however so no iron in it.

24.2 mm x 1 mm



Kouon te c‰¶Žč

This series has only 4 varieties but is very similar to the Meisou te, even to the extent of having a very similar script style and Bao character. Perhaps this also is 16th century, but I am merely guessing. The main coin which gives this Kouon ("Debt of gratitude to the emperor") is uncommon.

Canh Nguyen Thong Bao

This coin has a lovely patina and I have left it uncleaned.

24.5 mm x 1 mm



Tsume Shouryuu te ’ܐ³—²Žč

This series is another large and heavy series with at least 11 varieties. This coin's manufacture seems to have much in common with 15th century Annam coins.

Dai Hoa Thong Bao

This coin is based on an imperial issue which was minted 1443-1455. I bought in in Japan when I was just beginning to collect coins. I thought that it must be a medieval coin refering to Yamato, a province in central Japan. For a while I was excited by the prospect of a regional Japanese coin, but then my research led me to the world of Annam coins. After stud,y I then thought this was an Annam imperial issue for a while, but Francois Thierry told me that it was strange. I later found it in classified as a Tsume Shouryuu te in the Touyou kosen zuroku, and now know that it is a terui coin.


‘å˜a’Ź•ó@ ’ܐ³—²Žč



’’ŽŹ‚µ Iutsushi, copy recast

This is not a series of terui, but rather refers to copies made of regular issue coins by using the circulating coin as a mohter coin.

Sheng SongYuan Bao

this coin seems to have the qualities of manufacture that the Shoufu-te type has but seems also to be a copy recast (called iutsushi in Japanese).