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appended, was published in a standard work of some eminence. With a view to diminish the chance of such a mistake for the future, a facsimile of the coinage of one of the Manchow emperors is here given :
The curious, as in other countries, make collections of the ancient copper coin, in the order of succession of the reigns under which they were issued. It is said, however, that there are fabricators of these, as well as of numerous other antiques, of which the Chinese are so fond. A series mounting up beyond the Christian era has been brought to England; and if a string of tchen taken at hazard be examined, it will often be found to contain some coins of an ancient date. During former periods of Chinese history, money seems to have been made of other materials besides copper, being coined into a great variety of shapes, with symbolical figures of various animals. So greatly has the current coin of the reigning dynasty been debased compared with its nominal value, that the greatest difficulty is experienced in repressing the practice of forging it. In the Peking Gazette for June, 1824, there is the confession of a convicted forger, who declares that, “ being in great want, he, in concert with a former acquaintance, agreed on a plan for counterfeiting old worn-out tchen by casting lead, which being smuggled into circulation, they were to share the profits. They procured a stone and made a mould for the coin, and, their instruments being ready, they hired an empty apartment attached to a temple, and there coined upwards of 7000 tchen ; but soon after putting these in circulation they were seized with all their tools.”
In the same year there appeared a curious paper from the viceroy of Fokien to the emperor, being “ A report concerning the depreciation of the current tchen in comparison with silver bullion, requesting the imperial assent to a temporary suspension of the coinage, with a view to prevent needless waste. In the provincial mint (for it seems there is one in each province) the average coinage of ten days had been 1200 strings of tchen (each string containing 1000, or ten divisions of 100 each), and therefore the total coinage of one year averaged 43,200 strings or 43,200,000 tchen), the use of which had been to pay the militia of the province. In order to procure the copper and zinc required for coinage, officers had been regularly deputed to Yun-nân and Hoo-pě; and it was calculated that the expenses of transmission and coinage, added to the cost of the metal, had amounted, on an average, to 1 taël and 261 parts (in silver) for every 1000 tchen. But the present market value of fine silver, in exchange for the coin, was only 1 taël weight for 1240 tchen ; this difference being added to the above, the total disadvantage amounted to more than 500 parts in each taël, and the annual loss in the province to 20,000 taëls." To understand this, it must be observed that 1000 tchen ought to purchase or represent 1 taël of fine silver, but that more than 1500 were now required for that purpose, including the first cost of the coin to the government.
The viceroy then alludes to an inconvenience arising from the bulk of the base metal coin, in comparison with its value; in which respect it somewhat resembles the iron money of Sparta. “ The province of Fokien,” observes the Chinese functionary, “ being on the borders of the sea, its distance from some other provinces is great ; and the merchants who resort hither with their goods, finding it inconvenient to carry back such a weight of coin, exchange it for silver as a more portable remittance; in consequence of which silver and copper coin have become very disproportioned in their relative values ; the former rising, and the latter falling to an unusual degree. It has always been the rule (he adds) to pay the militia in coin, at the rate of 1000 for a taël of silver; but now a taël of silver in the market being worth 1240 tchen, they experience serious loss from this when they exchange their coin for silver, with a view to the more ready transmission of their pay to a distance.” The remedy proposed by the viceroy was, that the mint should be shut, and all farther coinage suspended ; the militia receiving their pay in silver until the relative values of silver and tchen approached nearer to a par.
The only coin of the country being copper, it follows that all transactions, beyond mere daily marketing and the lowest class of payments, must be carried on by a weight of silver, of which the taël expresses one Chinese ounce, divided decimally into 10 mace in the language of Canton), which are still farther divided into 10 candareens
—the names of weights and not coins ; so that 10 copper tchen should, in exchange, equal 1 candareen of silver ; 100 should equal 1 mace; and 1000 should pass for 1 taël; though, from the paper before quoted, it seems the exchange varies between copper and silver. · It has appeared impossible to establish a silver coin in the country, from the unconquerable propensity of the people to play tricks with anything more valuable than their base copper money : indeed, we have seen that they forge even that. On the introduction of Spanish dollars in commerce, they were at first found to be so convenient, that the coinage of dollars in imitation was for a time allowed; but though these commenced at a higher rate than the foreign dollars, they soon sank greatly below the standard, while the foreign coin preserved its wonted degree of purity.* The manufacture of imitation-dollars, being now prohibited, is still carried on to a considerable extent. Some are alloyed with lead, while others are made of base metal and coated with silver. The Spanish dollars imported at Canton very soon became punched into such a state, with the private marks of all those through whose hands they passed, as to be saleable only by weight. The fraudulent Chinese even introduce bits of lead into the punch-holes, and none but freshly-imported dollars can ever be received but with a very strict examination called shroffing.
The smallest payments in the interior, if not made in the copper tchen, are effected by exchanging bits of silver, whose weight is ascertained by a little ivory balance, on the principle of the steelyard. The astonishing inconvenience of such a system might have been expected to lead to a silver coinage ; but it still continues, and in this want of a circulating medium may perhaps be sought the real cause of so much being effected by barter, as well as of the payment of a considerable portion of taxes and rents, and other obligations, in produce instead of money. Those payments to government which are not made in kind are in silver of a prescribed rate of fineness. This is cast in stamped ingots of one and ten taëls in weight, of which ninety-eight parts in one hundred must be of pure silver, the alloy being therefore only two per cent. The Sysee, as it is called at Canton, paid in exchange for opium, and sent home in considerable quantities to this
* Chinese Commercial Guide, p. 64.
country, is of the same description of bullion ; and as it was found, on assay at the Bank, to contain a considerable admixture of gold, which the Chinese had not been able to detect or separate, it has proved very profitable to the importers, raising the premium on Sysee in China to five or six per cent. With the imperfect means that exist there of ascertaining the real quality of the bar-silver received in exchange for opium, it is only surprising that it should have turned out rather above than below the stipulated value.
Besides the inferior grade of pawnbrokers, there are in every considerable town a respectable class of what are called “money-shops," approaching in some degree to our private banking establishments. Officers charged with the collection of the revenue deposit with these the receipts on account of taxes and duties; and the moneyshop is paid by a liberal allowance for waste, in melting and reducing the silver to the quality of government Sysee, for the purity of which it is responsible. “Taxes are generally handed over to them by the government; mercantile duties are frequently paid into their banks by the merchants from whom they are owing ; and the banker in such case gives the merchant a receipt for the amount, accompanied by a certificate that it shall be paid to government within a certain period. The refined silver is cast into ingots, and stamped with the name of the banker and date of refining. Should any deception be afterwards discovered, at whatever distance of time, the refiner is liable to severe punishment..... From private individuals these banks either receive deposits drawable at will, in which case no interest is allowed, or they take money at interest not exceeding twelve per cent., in which case some days' notice must be given before any portion can be withdrawn. They do not appear to differ