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Vietnamese Coin
Tu Duc Bao Sao 9 Mach

Source: http://vietantique.com/index1.htm
November 30, 2001


Click image to enlarge
Obverse: Vietnamese Tu Duc Bao Sao - Tu Duc's paper money

Si De Bao Chao, banknote

Reverse: Vietnamese Chuan Dang Cuu Mach - equal to standard 9 Mach (1 Mach = 60 Van)

rule, guideline, standard

Diameter: 53.2 mm
Weight: 28.03 g
Metal: brass

      Tu Duc is the reign title of Emperor Nguyen Duc Tong (1848 - 1883) of the Vietnamese Nguyen dynasty. Some notes about Tu Duc coinage can be found at the page Tu Duc 8 Van fantasy coin.

      Shown here coin is unpublished anywhere.
      There are known ("Yuenan lishi huobi") two main series of the Tu Duc's coinage - thongbao and baosao. Denominations of the baosao are next:

W. Op den Velde, "Cash coin index. The Cash Coins of Vietnam", Amsterdam 1996:

      ... large TU DUC BAO SAO coins appear to have been first issued at Hanoi, and Toda mentions the date 1877. Coins of the same value differ in size and style of characters, which indicates several issues. It appears that imitations were made. This series seems to have been unpopular because of the interior intrinsic value. See H.A.Ramsden. The high value issues of the Tu Duc series of Annamese coins. East Asia Journal, vol.2, 55-62, 1995.
      ... In LIEH SU DONG TIEN VIETNAM under No 478 and Thierry (1986) No V209 a different issue is illustrated, with on the reverse CHUAN DANG NHI MACH "Equal to 2 mach", probably a trial minting, dated 1871 or later.
Toda, No 236-239:       These coins were first issued in 1877 from Ha-noi, and the value of one tien was given to them; but on account of their inferior intrinsic value the people disliked them, and their circulation was in consequence very limited.
      In order to bring these coins into general circulation the Annamese Government reduced the value of the tien to fifty cash, in 1878, and allowed them to be used for the payment of taxes.

      Seems that it quite possible such decline of economy which lead to decreasing of Van equivalent to value 0.0520 g. So 540 Van (9 Mach) coin probably is a trial issue near end of the Tu Duc period.

      Some questions:

  1. Francois Thierry writes: "In 1861 a value 10 coin was issued in the first bao sao serie, and in 1872 a light thong bao value 6 coin was issued after the collapse of the second baosao serie ...".
    What are baosao series which Thierry mentioned?
  2. Thuan Luc writes: "The Bao Sao with 10 Van weighted 15 phan = 5.6625 g ...".
    Which baosao 10 Van was mentioned by Luc? We see from the above table that there are two types issued in different years.
  3. What is a weight of 30 Van coin?


Message from Francois Thierry (11-Jan-02):
          Some answers to the questions in your site about the 9 mach baosao coin:
          The two series of the baosao in van are precisely presented and dated (1861 and 1870) in my book Catalogue des Monnaies Vietnamiennes 1987 (pp. 29 and 30), all the weights of the two series are given. It is very strange that the author of the question do not read the whole of the text and cite only a part of my text. I have published recently a study about "Monnaies et circulation monetaire au Vietnam dans l'ere Tu Duc (1848-1883)", Revue Numismatique 1999, pp. 267-315, pl. XL-XLI., with many unpublished coins and details about the baosao in mach. It should be necessary that numismatists reads the new books and publications and not that they continue to read and cite the old and wrong Toda's, Ramsden's, Novak's, Lockhart's books, or Lacroix's album <text, planches; look for 'Desire Lacroix' in Recherche section of http://gallica.bnf.fr/ - V.B.>. I understand that it is more easy to read in English, but, sorry, the publications are in French or in Japanese....

          I thinks that you should given some of my publications in your Vietnamese Numismatic bibliography, because in the last ten years I have published many unknown coins and many Vietnamese text (for example, a Khai Thai nguyen bao value 10, some baosao value 1 quan, 8 mach, 2 mach, a one silver lang coin of Thanh Thai, a gold Nhi Nghi of Thanh Thai, a large one gold lang coin of Dong Khanh, etc).

          On the other hand, 2 mach are not 200 van but 120, because a mach is 60 zinc van and not 100 copper coins; the 9 mach value is 540 zinc van <I fixed this mistake in the above table - VB>.

          Answer to Mr. W. Op den Velde : it exists only one baosao of 2 mach, that of the Paris Mint Museum that I publish in Monnaies d'Extreme Orient, vol. II Vietnam-Japon, under the number V209. The coin N478 in the Chinese books Yuenan lishi huobi 1993 (Mind the wrong translation in Vietnamese in the cover: Lieh su dong tien Vietnam is wrong, the correct one is (without the accents) Lich suu dong tien Vietnam) is the same photograph stolen from my own publication withouth authorization in contravention of the copyright. The most of this book photographs for the Nguyen period are stolen from the Paris Mint Museum Catalogue.

  1. Tang Guo Yen, Chang Shi Chuan Yuenan lishi huobi (in Vietnamese Lich suu dong tien Vietnam - The Vietnamese historical currency), 1993, published by Yunnan and Guangxi Numismatic Society, in Chinese.
  2. Tu Duc 8 Van fantasy coin
  3. H.A.Ramsden, The high value issues of the Tu Duc series of Annamese coins, East Asia Journal, vol.2, 55-62, 1995.
  4. W. Op den Velde, Cash coin index. The Cash Coins of Vietnam, Amsterdam 1996.
  5. Toda E., Annam and its minor currency, Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Shanghai), vol.17, 1882. Reprinted East Asia Journal No 6.
  6. Thierry F., Catalogue des monnaies Vietnamiennes, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 1987.
  7. Website Coins and banknotes of Vietnam and French Indochina
  8. On-line Toda's catalog, Tuduc series.


Thien Quang Nguyen Bao

23.1 mm, 2.1 g
Obverse: Vietnamese Thien Quang Nguyen Bao

Tien Qing Yuan Bao

Reverse: plain
       Alan Barker:
The character on the right would appear to be Quang, or Ching in Chinese. Tien Ching Yuan Pao was a reign title used in the Liao dynasty (1111-1120) and again in the Western Hsia dynasty (1194-1204).
The Vietnamese copied many of the Chinese reign titles for 'un-official coinage'.




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