A Square Trough in Kuangtung Pattern but with an obsolete place name of Jiangsu
I bought this expensive piece because I am interested in attempting to solve two mysteries presented by its inscriptions:
(1) This 10 tael Square Trough piece is cast in an typical Kuangtung pattern, but it is stamped with a place name of "Ching Ho County", which is located in Jiangsu province where Square Trough sycee did not circulate.
(2) The name "Ching Ho County" was proclaimed outlawed and replaced by "Huai Yin County" a few years before 1905.
My assessment of these two mysteries is as follows:
In regards to (1), there are two possibilities-
1) This piece had been cast as a Kuangtung piece, and was later brought to Jiangsu. It was then stamped with a new place name of "Ching Ho County" over its original stamp for a place name in Kuangtung, before or during its circulation in Ching Ho County. The overstamping must have been done within a short time from when the sycee was cast, since all the stamps on the sycee seem to be of a similar age and show the same amount of wear. There is a slight overlap of the stamp of Ching Ho County and the stamp of the smith showing the former is on top, which indicates that it might be from overstamping.
2) It was from a consignment of a customer in Jiangsu to a silversmith in Kuangtung. Because the wide popularity of silver coins in most cities during the late Ching Dynasty, it became a challenge for local governments to obtain enough sycee to submit tax revenue collected by them to the imperial government which only accepted the submitted taxes in the form of sycee. As a result, using silver coins to purchase sycee from coastal provinces where had more silver coins from foreign trades became a solution for those local governments. Kuangtung might be a place for Jiangsu to exchange coins for sycee and overstamp the piece acquired.
In response to (2)-
The smith overstamping the place name did that because he or his customer was used to calling "Ching Ho County" by that name and did not know it had been outlawed.
Offering chances for a brain-exercise is a bonus for collecting sycee, I suppose.
Return to Sycee Talks