A Dream Sycee - Fujien Maritime Customs 10 Tael Steamed Bun

wpe1.jpg (37421 個位元組)

Weight: 372 grams/10 taels


Date: N/A


Inscriptions: 閩海關/六年九月/蔡萬安


Ming (Fujien) Maritime Customs The 6th Year, 9th Month

Tsai Wan Ann (The smith)

The 10 tael Steamed Bun sycee circulated in Fujien during the early Ching Dynasty, and due to Fujien's coastal location and its early exposure to westerners, the Steamed Bun became one of the first regional forms of sycee to be withdrawn from circulation and replaced by foreign silver coins.

No concrete evidence indicates exactly when the Steam Bun sycee fade away, but according to several reports submitted by Fujien governors to the Board of Revenues during the Tao Kuang period, the Fujien government was already facing the problem of not being able to acquire enough sycee from the local markets to make tax payments in sycee as required by the Central government. The Fujien governors strongly and repeatedly requested that tax payments submitted to the emperor be allowed to be in the form of silver coins. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Fujien Steamed Buns disappeared from the markets by the beginning of the Tao Kuang period (1821-1850). 

Considering that the scarcity of Fujien Steamed Buns 150 years ago made it difficult for local officials to acquire many, and, it makes sense that it is now very difficult for us to find even one specimen. 

Eduard Kann whose lifetime accumulation of sycee became a major part of the British Museum's sycee collection after his death, apparently never encountered a Fujien Steamed Bun, since it is not represented in the Museum's inventory.

In 1988, the renown Taiwan collector Su Yin Tang, after dedicating more than a decade to acquiring sycee, only show a single example of the Fujien Steamed Bun, illustrated as No.844 in "The 1,000 Varieties of Chinese Sycees Collection of Su Yin Tang". Other than that, only a few genuine pieces were known to be treasured by certain museums in China and by foreign collectors, and it is estimated that a few dozens of counterfeits had been introduced into markets

Before 1990, specimens of Fujien Steamed Bun recorded in all collections- public or private- were almost all of a pattern cast by local governments and inscribed with "Place Name", "Year Month, (without a reign name)" and "Name of a silversmith". 

The Fujien Maritime Customs Steamed Bun is therefore a new variety, only making its first apparence on the market in 1990s. Over the past several years, 4-5 specimens have become available, but they have all been acquired by individuals who consider the Fujien Maritime Customs Steamed Bun as extremely desirable and one of the highlights of their collections. 

After waiting for more than a decade, the webmaster is finally celebrating his acquisition of a specimen of this dream sycee.            

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