A Shanghai 50 Tael Boat Featured in the Shansi Type
Weight: 1862 grams/50 taels
Date: 1876 A.D.
The 2nd Year, Month of Kuang Hsu
Tsui Tai (Furnace)
Ho Firm (Branch Furnace)
There is not much information available regarding Shanghai furnace operators early during the 19th century. Reportedly, there were 24 members in the Shanghai Furnace Association in 1920, and "萃泰" (Tsui Tai) was one of them. Through the discovery of this piece, we are now able to prove that this furnace was in the business in 1876, when is 44 years earlier than the earliest known prior report.
The other 23 Shanghai furnace operators operating in 1920 were:
聯甡(Lien Shen)、惠泰(Huei Tai)、萃源(Tsui Yuan)、裕豐成(Yu Feng Chen)、久泰豐(Gio Tai Feng)、志慶(Zhi Ching)、協泰豐(Hsieh Tai Feng)、泰豐(Tai Feng)、同豐(Tong Feng)、同餘(Tong Yu)、同甡(Tong Shen)、勤泰(Chin Tai)、生源(Shen Yuan)、泰昌(Tai Chang)、萃昌(Tsui Chang)、鼎泰(Ding Tai)、宏久(Hong Gio)、同源(Tong Yuan)、泰亨源(Tai Heng Yuan)、鼎昌(Ding Tai)、祥泰(Hsiang Tai)、道勝(Dao Shen)、聯源(Lien Yuan)。
Begining in the the 25th year of Tao Kuang (1845), when Shanghai became a treaty port after the Opium War, Shanghai furnaces started casting sycee in tremendous quantity for various business activities carried out in the Foreign Concession . Unlike the shape of most of other 50 Tael Boats cast in or for the Foreign Concession (ex. Js50/2, 50/3, 50/4), this piece bears the typical Shansi 50 Tael Boat feature and stamping. This interesting example could be from a consignment cast for a Shansi merchant or for a local bank operating in Shanghai which intended to make a sycee payment in the Shansi currency standard, or by the Shanghai Maritime Customs located in the south of Shanghai. All known examples of Shanghai Maritime Customs pieces are dated but do not specify the name of the customs or the silver shop, and some of them carry the inscription of "Shanghai"(上海); sycee cast for the Foreign Concession were cast under consignment to Shanghai local banks and foreign banks operating in Shanghai, and no date would be stamped.
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