This site is dedicated to the Dynastic coins of China
primarily listed in the Schjoth Catalogue
The Currency of the Far East.
In July, 1929, Fredrick Schjoth, “Former Commissioner of the Chinese Maritime Customs, Ningpo,” gave to the world of coin collecting (numismatics) his book titled The Currency of the Far East. It was a distinctive large red book measuring 8 1/4” by 13 1/2”. It had no copyright indicated in the book thus making allowance to the use of it in building this site. This is my pleasure to return his work to numismatics in a different format, as my thanks for having learned so many things regarding the history and art of China and her peoples generally, and specifically of collecting Chinese coins that this one book has been a catalyst of. It has also launched me with purpose into the world of computers, graphics and web design as a modern-day hobby.
Here are some excerpts from the Preface of his book. He writes the following.
“In the year 1876 I was appointed to the office of Customs at the port of Swatow. Having then been some ten years in China and acquired a fair knowledge of the language, both spoken and written, the idea occurred to me to start collecting Chinese coins. I began in a modest way, by now and then sending my servant down town with a dollar or two to bring back strings of cash. In a comparatively short time I had, strange to say, obtained a respectable collection, not only of Ta-ch’ing, Ming, and Sung coins, but also K’ai-yuans of T’ang and even of Wu-shus and Pan-liangs, which dated from the Christian era. In 1880, whilst at Canton, some of my Chinese friends made me a gift of many valuable specimens. Soon after I was transferred to Kiungchow on the island of Hainan. In this remote part of China I thought there would be small prospects of augmenting my collection. But here I was mistaken. The Chinese finding out my hobby, brought me whole strings of large “value two” Sung coins (c. A.D. 1000) corroded at the edge, yet otherwise perfect, taken from the old tombs of some high officials, banished to the island by the government. In 1893, at Ichang and at the old city of Ching-chou above Hankow, I secured valuable coins of the San-kuo period (c. A.D. 200), in addition to some rare cash-moulds. In 1896, whilst at Chungking in Szechuan, I got a vast number of iron coins, much appreciated by Chinese numismatists. In 1901, at Ningpo, I secured a unique collection of Amulets.”
“It is seen from the above, that as a member of the Customs Service, transferred to so many parts of the empire, I had excellent opportunities of collecting coins, and, aided by the many petty curio dealers, found in every big town of China, my collection steadily augmented.”
He further writes.
“Not having at my disposal the fine wood cuts of the Chinese, I have been much handicapped in illustrating the coins. Here, however, my daughter, Mrs. Heyerdahl, has, I think, rendered me most valuable assistance by her hand-drawn sketches, taken directly from each coin.” … “For the text of the catalogue and the plates I am myself only responsible.”
“I hope that the present work will be useful not only to the Numismatic Cabinet to which I presented the coins described, but also to many collectors or would-be collectors who need guidance.”
Though Schjoth’s catalogue is not comprehensive compared to others that have followed and the drawings are not the alternative preferred way of acquiring an image of a coin, rubbing, which renders an actual copy of the characters, I have chosen the limits of his catalogue as a respectable start for any collector who is being introduced to this wonderful hobby. It should be noted his numbering system still remains to this day in use as a cross-reference for “Westerners.” I have further limited my endeavor with this site to stay with the cash coins of China only. I have not extended into the Chinese charms or amulets, nor the Japanese, Korean or Annamese currencies.