Reason to cast non-copper coin |
in Southern region in 17th Century
Nguyen Lord ruled the Inner region since 1558. The region did not
produce copper. Lack of the base material to cast coin, the Southern
Nguyen rulers required a continuous supply of copper.
In the 17th century, when the Japanese ships or Chinese ships from
Fujian and Kuang-Tung came with red copper, the captain must declare the
amount of copper and sell it to the officials of Nguyen Lord. The
traders could only buy what was left. Also, strings of Japanese cash
coin were served as the base currency of the region were imported in
large amount by the Dutch.
In the 18th century, copper coins in the South became scarcer and
scarcer due to several reasons:
The Lord, Nguyen Phuc Khoat (1738-1765) accepted the suggestion of
Hoang, a Chinese, to buy
tutenag from the Dutch to cast coin. Tutenag (zinc) was in Chinese
called 'white lead', in opposition to real lead ('black lead'). The Lord
bought tutenag at 14 quan for 60 kilograms and cast 48, 49 quan from it, which represented a big profit.
- Asian trade declined because Japan and Europe removed themselves from
the unfavorable trade system,
- the Japanese government restricted the copper export in 1717,
- people melted down copper coins to make utensils,
- and the most important one, Nguyen Lord realized that the cost of
casting copper coin was unfavorable for the Court.
Also Nguyen removed the ban against private individuals casting coins.
There were more than one hundred foundries established to cast coin by
the rich people. Initially the zinc coinage was convenient to both
officials and the common people. Therefore the court began to store
copper coins and not to issue them.
And then, people began to mix black lead and cheaper substances, more
and more, for profit. The coin was also smaller and thinner. The zinc
coin dropped dreadfully in value. Initially in value, 1 zinc coin = 1
copper coin, but finally 3 zinc coins = 1 copper coin. Moreover people
rejected zinc coins.
OFFICIAL RECORD OF THIEN MINH THONG BAO
The book PHU BIEN TAP LUC ('Miscellanous records in the border area')
written by Le Quy Don in 1776 recited:
'There was one kind of coin called
Thien Minh Thong Bao, which had black lead mixed in and became very
fragile. people refused to accept it because of its ugliness; therefore
the trade did not go smoothly, coins were not circulated well'.