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The Award Winning
Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
Volume 14, Number 8     August, 2001 

August  Membership Meeting:
See You At Our Club's Summer Picnic at Centennial Park on August 11th

The YN Corner

"Ancient and Medieval Chinese Coinage"

"The Cleaning and Preservation of Horde Coins"


A reminder to all members (YNs included) that there will be no club membership meetings in the month of July. We did post an announcement in last month’s newsletter….and hope the word got out to everyone. Your board members will, however, be meeting on July 18th, to formalize final planning for the club’s August 11th Summer picnic.

Our August 11th Summer picnic will be a potluck event. Figure on the picnic starting at 12 noon and lasting through the afternoon. Location will be Centennial Park located here in Anchorage. A map showing the location of Centennial Park is included with this month’s newsletter. The picnic is open to our members, their families, and friends. Our club has always combined our membership and YN meetings to be held concurrent with the Summer picnic. So….a note to all members that no membership meeting will be held on the first Wednesday of August …and there will be no YN meeting for the second Friday of August.

As in years past, the club will provide the barbequed hamburgers & hot dogs…as well as buns, potato chips, dips, soda pop, ice, forks, spoons, plates, napkins, and condiments. Potluck items desired would be desserts, salads, and hors d’oeuvres. Our president, Bill Hamiton, will be bringing the barbeque grill. Roy Brown will be making calls in the coming weeks to our members on potluck items that they wish to bring for the event.

Besides lots of food, there will be lots of fun events being planned by our board members Loren Lucason and John Larsen…especially for our YNs. Figure on a bullet coin auction to be held at that event. Members wishing to submit auction items can bring them to the picnic.

So….we hope to see a good turnout of people for this event. If any of you have questions about the Summer picnic, give Loren a call at his home, Ph# 272-3700.

In the meantime, we are putting out this newsletter a bit earlier than usual since our Chief Editor, Larry Nakata, will be on his honeymoon.

So…enjoy the articles in this newsletter and see you at the picnic…..Your Editors.


Schedule of Events for the Month of August

  1. Anchorage Coin Club Summer Picnic: August 11th  (Saturday) 12 noon thru the afternoon. Location: Centennial Park in Anchorage (map showing location is on this month’s newsletter). This picnic will also serve as our regular membership and YN meetings for the month of August. Club members, YNs, their families, and friends are invited to this event. Lots of food and events are planned for this picnic. See you there….
  2. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: August 15th  (Wednesday) 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church.  Club members welcomed.

I wanted to remind all YNs of our summer picnic planned for August 11th. It’s on a Saturday afternoon with lots of events planned especially for the YNs. Figure on some door prizes and nice coins given away as part of the events. Like last year’s picnic, figure on a Jeopardy type game for the YNs. So I would recommend that YNs interested in participating  “brush up” on their “red books”.

By the time YNs receive this newsletter, YN Corey Rennell will have come back from the ANA Summer Conference in Colorado Springs. I have asked Corey to write an article about his experiences at that event. The article should come out in next month’s newsletter.

Following the August 11th Summer picnic, our next scheduled YN meeting will be on September 14th , 7 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. I am still in the process of determining a topic for that YN meeting, so figure that it will be announced in next month’s newsletter.

Meantime….I trust all of our YNs are enjoying their summer.

See you at the August 11th Summer picnic…..Larry Nakata.

“ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL CHINESE COINAGE” by Richard Bilak (Member # 176)

What coinage has wonderful variety? What coinage goes back a couple thousand years or more? What coinage has inexpensive reference books? And, best of all, what ancient coinage can be assembled into a nice collection on a YN’s allowance? The answer to these questions is ancient Chinese Cash coinage.

I’m not going to delve too far into the really odd, ancient Chinese money such as the spade, bridge, ant nose, and knife money….other than to say that they are interesting and would make a good article on their own. What I am going to write about is the bronze square hole “cash” money.

The earliest metallic pieces that can be called coins come into use about 700 BC. They took the place of the so-called “Barter Money” such as arrow heads, bells, ax heads, and the like. These passed for whatever value the prospective possessor might place on them…whereas the early coins had a definite value.

At the end of the Chou Dynasty (255 BC), round coins became popular. These round coins had already been issued as early as the 6th Century BC, but were not popular. Compared to the plentiful finds of odd shaped coins, round coins must have been relatively rare at that time. The “Pan Liang” (half tael) issued during the Ch’in and Han dynasties is the earliest form of round money to be made in substantial quantities. It was reissued for over 100 years and was finally replaced in 118 BC by the most famous of all coins…the “Wu Shu” (or 5 Shu coin). The Wu Shu, though often modified, kept it’s original shape as the coin of China for 700 years.

The classification of ancient Chinese coins is comprised of all round coins issued before the advent of the T’ang dynasty before 618 AD. Their inscriptions are always in ancient characters with a seal script of curved or straight strokes….in contrast to the modern script of angular strokes. Some medieval Chinese coins also have seal script, but have the character Pao. Ancient coins do not have this character.

The Medieval class of Chinese coins form the vast majority of obverse varieties…which includes all of the dynasties of China from the T’ang to the end of the Ming, the period from 618 AD to 1644 AD. Coins of this class all have an obverse arrangement of 4 characters around the square hole in the middle. In the great majority of cases, the coin should be read top, bottom, right, then left.

One may ask “What was a Shu?”

A string of  “cash” sometimes called tiao or kuan varied from 100-1000 cash coins. One string of cash was supposed to be the equivalent of one tael of silver (1 ounce).

I have included two tables with this article on reading dates and numbers on Chinese coins. This should give a person a good start on collecting these coins until they acquire some reference books. I would recommend the books “Chinese Cash” by O.D. Cresswell. This small book costs around $10 and will help identify 95% of the Chinese cash coins that you will come across. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at the coin club meetings. I will be glad to help you……Richard Bilak.


DISCLAIMER:  Warning….do not read this article if you only collect MS slabbed coins. You may find this article frightening. Read only if you enjoy (or would enjoy) treasure hunting 1000+ year old coins.

For those of you reeling in horror at the thought of cleaning coins, the coins I’m talking about are “ancients”. These coins have been freshly dug from the ground. Now I bet you’re wondering how did these coins get into the ground and where do they come from?

Now is a great time to collect uncleaned ancients because of the more powerful metal detectors and the material coming in from the Balkans. A thousand years ago there were no banks or credit unions as we know them today. If a person had a lot of money and they were worried about storing it, they would put it in a clay pot and bury it in the ground. Suppose you had two big armies getting ready to fight a battle. Where do you think the armies hid the payrolls? In the ground, sometimes in chests, and a lot of times in clay pots.

If the person(s) in charge of the monies is killed in the battlefield….or if the person(s) who buried a couple of handfuls of denarii in a pot in some backyard were to die without revealing the location…..what would you have?! You guessed it….a horde of coins waiting to be discovered.

Fast forward to the year 2001.  Some guy is using his “super duper” metal detector in a field where the Roman Imperial legions once fought…..and he hears a “beep”. What could it be? He digs down a couple of feet and hits a clay pot with his shovel. Holy cow!!! There are hundreds of old coins which he scoops into a burlap bag and takes home. At home the coins are dumped onto the floor and cherry picked for the better coins. Next he sells the horde to someone who can distribute the coins. This middleman sells the horde to a dealer….and this dealer sells to another dealer. A customer buys a couple of thousand of the horde coins, sorts and keeps the better ones, and puts the rest up for sale on the Internet. The coin collector buys 50 of these horde coins at a good price. Three weeks later the coins arrive at the collector’s house. The eager collector opens the box….UGH!!!. The collector cannot believe that he just “shelled out” $100 plus shipping for these “slugs”. The collector sits down, has one of his favorite malt beverages, and thinks to himself….”What do I do??? Looks like these need to be cleaned.”

First thing to do is look at the coins and ask yourself some questions:

By now you have picked out a dozen or so promising coins that do not look too bad. How are you going to clean them?

Soap and Water.  This is one of my favorites. As the name implies… water and soap. Take a quart sized jar, place the coins inside, fill with liquid soap & hot water, and shake lightly. Repeat and rinse. Take an old toothbrush and brush lightly. Repeat as necessary.

Soak in Clean Water. Another favorite. Take a quart sized jar, fill with distilled water, and add coins. Brush the coins and change the water weekly.

Soak in Olive Oil. This method is a bit messy. Use the same technique as if you were soaking the coins in distilled water….only using olive oil. You don’t have to change the olive oil as often….just brush the coins weekly.

O.K……you now have “cleaned” coins. What next? The next step is called “conservation”. What does that mean? Well…after cleaning, washing, and drying the coins…you will want to stabilize the coins to stop any chemical process that may “attack” them. Apply a protective coating to the coins, preferably one that can be removed. “Renaissance Wax” is a recommended coating. The coins should be stored in an area with as low humidity as possible and handling should be kept to a minimum (use cotton gloves).

If you get the urge to try uncleaned ancients, remember these tips:

If you are expecting to find gold and riches…you will be disappointed. If the idea of cleaning 1000+ year old coins appeals to you, then a great numismatic adventure awaits you……Richard Bilak.

The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors


Larry Nakata / Mike Nourse / Jim Susky / Loren Lucason

Club Archivist/ Photographer

Robin Sisler


To save costs, members not responding to renewal notices within 3 months will be considered inactive.

The Anchorage Coin Club is a non-profit organization formed to provide information, education, and a meeting place for individuals having an interest in numismatics.

Correspondence Address: Anchorage Coin Club, P.O. Box 230169, Anchorage, Alaska 99523

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