Bronze Daguan tongbao coin
Song dynasty, Daguan reign period (AD 1107-10)
Designed by the Emperor Huizong
Calligraphy was regarded as one of the highest art forms during the Song dynasty, and the calligraphy for this coin was supplied by the Emperor Huizong (reigned 1101-25) himself. Huizong was extremely interested in the arts, and developed a very distinctive style of calligraphy, known as 'slender needle style', which can be seen here.
The inscription on this coin reads 'Da guan tong bao', arranged top-bottom-right-left around the square hole. 'Daguan' refers to the Daguan reign period (1107-10), and tongbao means 'circulating treasure' or 'coin'.
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)