Silver ingot weighing 50 ounces

From Shanghai, China, 19th century AD

For making large payments and for taxes

Until 1890 there was no official silver coinage in China. Instead, privately made ingots and foreign dollars were accepted in payment by weight. This is a Shanghai City '27' type ingot made from solid silver. The stamps on the top indicate that it was cast for an unidentified bank at foundry no. 9 by the smith Gong Chengchang. The writing in black ink is the mark of the assayer.

In China, silver ingots were the main form of currency for larger payments, and by the end of the late nineteenth century, silver was also used for paying taxes. People would take their silver bars, dollars or jewellery to a silversmith to have them cast into ingots. The smiths cast and stamped the metal in such a way that the fineness of the silver would be immediately recognizable to the public assayer. Different shapes and sizes of ingots were made in each region of China.

Find in the collection online

More information


J. Cribb, A catalogue of sycee in the Br (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Length: 125.000 mm
Width: 66.000 mm
Height: 80.000 mm
Weight: 1829.910 g

Museum number

CM 1978-6-36-77



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore