Yunnan Sycee Casting Firms' Fineness Standardized Silver
Before Saddle Sycee was introduced during the 10th year of Kuang Hsu (1884 AD), sycee casting firms in Kunmin of Yunnan province had been conducting a campaign to standardize the fineness of sycee circulating in the region. It was publicly agreed by a group of allied firms that the silver content of any sycee cast by them would be at least 98%, and no sycee of an inferior fineness would be put into circulation. The assaying system adopted as part of the introduction of Saddle Sycee which provided an official guarantee of fineness obviously served to formalize the earlier agreement among silver firms.
The inscription of the Yunnan Single Groove shown above provides an important clue to its background and identity. We can determine that it was issued during the interval before the introduction of Saddle Sycee and after the commencement of the campaign to standardize silver fineness.
The inscriptions of the Single Groove is read as "Yu Bao Hao Yin"; the first 2 characters 裕寶 "Yu Bao" is the name of the silver shop casting the sycee, the 3rd chracter 號 "Hao" means "Firm", and the last character of the inscription "Yin", which is the most interesting and important part, is a combination of two characters 色 "Ser" and 銀 "Yin", respectively mean "Fineness" and "Silver". The inscribed characters, as a whole, are interpreted as "A Silver of the Firms' Fineness Standard Cast by Yu Bao Silver Shop", which implies a silver fineness standard for casting sycee had been established, although no assaying system was in effect at that time.
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