Length: 142.000 mm
Width: 63.000 mm
Weight: 42.680 g
Coins and Medals
Bronze hollow handle spade money
From Jin state, China
Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th century BC
Chinese spade money
This early Chinese spade money is described as a hollow handle spade with pointed shoulders and pointed feet. Early Chinese spade money followed the form of real tools. Both spade money and spade tools were cast in moulds, but the money was generally smaller and made from thinner metal than the tools. To settle arguments about the development of spade money in China, scientists have recently analysed the metal content of spade tools and the earliest spade money. They discovered that the metal used to make spade money was quite different from that of the tools.
The earliest spade money was issued by the royal house of Zhou, geographically 'The Middle Kingdom', in the late seventh or early sixth century BC. Within three hundred years, most of the neighbouring states were also issuing spade money. The forms of the spades, their inscriptions and their place of discovery make it possible to attribute particular spades to particular localities. There are hundreds of different inscriptions, which usually indicate a place-name or the weight of the spade. This example has no inscription.
F. Thierry, 'The origins and development of Chinese coins' in Origin, evolution and circulat (Manohar, Sri Lanka, 1998), pp. 15-62