Spanish Colonial Cobs

Spanish colonial cobs were imported and circulated in China from  the latter part of the 16th century, and their introduction  paved the way for other foreign milled silver coins to enter circulation during the next four hundred years. Given the great variety of cob specimens, the only way to determine which types were used in China is to look for examples which bear Chinese chopmarks.

Spanish colonial cobs were called "Cross Money" by the Chinese, and they were one of the earliest types of foreign silver coins used in the Chinese coastal areas, such as Kuangtung, Fujien, Chekiang and Taiwan by the Spaniards, Portuguese and Dutch for their trading with  native people. These irregularly-shaped foreign silver pieces were adopted by the Chinese as a kind of "quasi-sycee" which were evaluated by their weight and silver content. They circulated in their original form, often with chopmarks,  or in the form of Chinese sycee after they were consigned to the furnace and recast.

The process of chopping cobs during the the initial stages of Chinese contact with foreign silver demonstrates how merchants adopted and authenticated foreign trade silver and transformed them into native coinage--a chopmarked cob was no longer a cob, it was more like a sycee.

Philip IV (1634-1665) 4 Reale (Cob-1)

Philip IV (1634-1665) 4 Reale (Cob-2)

Philip V (1700-1724) 1 Reale (Cob-3)

 Philip III (1598-1621) or Philip IV (1621-1665) 1 Reale (Cob-4)

Philip IV ( 1621-1665) 4 Reale (Cob-5)

Philip IV (1621-1665)? 8 Reale (Cob-6)

  Philip IV (1634-1665) 8 Raele (Cob-7) 

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