The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 20, May 16, 2010, Article 17


Just when I thought I'd learned something new about numismatics, E-Sylum readers chimed in with the REAL story. The newspaper article and image of the "giant Chinese coin" brought several comments. -Editor

Giant Chinese coin Martin Purdy was the first to comment. He writes:

I trust you realise this is Vietnamese/Annamese, not Chinese. (And the coin is upside down in the picture!)

Ron Haller-Williams writes:

If the fact that a coin has Chinese writing on it were to make it a Chinese coin, then you folks in the USA would still be using "ENGLISH" coins. Even the link gives a clue - !

According to "Ha Tinh (in Vietnamese Hà Tĩnh) is a province on the north central coast of Vietnam." (my emphasis)

China never had a Le dynasty. The (Later) Lê Dynasty ruled Vietnam from 1428 to 1788 (called "Later" to distinguish from the Early Lê Dynasty 980–1009), and the monarch Canh Hung ruled there, as indicated, from 1740 to 1786.

A good source of information on the regular coins of his reign is to be found at

It's a great pity that the coin is upside-down in the photo (also in the source article).

Oh, and considering that a silver dollar/crown/yuan/tael with a diameter of 3.8 cm weighs about 27 grams, I'd expect a 12cm cast coin to weigh well over 30gr !!! Even at 130 grams it might be too fragile.

The same problems (upside-down; light weight) also apply to the other sources I have found.

Howard A. Daniel III writes:

I would be very surprised if the "coin" in the Giant Chinese Coin of Le Dynasty Found item in last week's E-Sylum is authentic.

A few years ago, my wife was traveling without me to visit an important Buddhist temple in the Mekong Delta, while I was in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) doing something else. After her religious duties, she wandered into a side building, which happened to be a gift shop for tourists. In one area, there was a large display of "giant cash-style coins" and she got very excited. She took a picture and showed it to me once we were back together.

She told me the temple was selling them to tourists for US$2 to US$5 each, and quantity was available for dealers who wanted to resell them in their stores! Did I want to get in on these very rare coins at such a low price?

I saw my first pieces sometime in the 1980s at a coin show in New Carrollton or Baltimore, MD. I got quite excited and almost paid the dealer $125 for one without studying the "coin." After looking at it for a few minutes, I could see the patina was artificial and the scene (there are not characters on the reverse of all of them) was of a palace built AFTER the reign title on the coin. My heartbeat slowed down and I declined to buy the coin.

I believe this story about the giant Chinese "coin" is about a "planted" coin suddenly "found" to drum up a "high-priced sale" for someone. The person is so knowledgeable about it that it is shown upside down and identified as Chinese. And it might be Chinese-style but it has the reign title of the Vietnamese Emperor Canh Hung!

Over the past 10-15 years, I have acquired a collection of them at "tourist" prices from Canh Hung all the way to Bao Dai (200 years of rulers), the last Emperor of Viet Nam. We in Vietnamese numismatics call them "mantle pieces" as they are placed on a mantle or on the family altar (often in a holder to display dishes) to show respect for a particular Vietnamese Emperor.

As a matter of fact, Canh Hung is my favorite Vietnamese Emperor because he is issued the highest number of different coin varieties......but the "coin" in this item was not one of them.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: GIANT CHINESE COIN OF LE DYNASTY FOUND (


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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