In the December 2012 issue of Chopmark News (The Newsletter of the Chopmark Collectors Club), editor Colin Gullberg interviews Chien I-Hsiung, author of World Currencies in Taiwan (2006). With permission, here's an excerpt.
In this issue, I talk with Mr. Chien I-Hsiung [簡義雄]. Mr. Chien is a collector of Taiwanese coins and is best known for his book World Currencies in Taiwan. The book deals with the entire history of coins which circulated in Taiwan from ancient times [Chinese cash], the period of Dutch and later Spanish occupation [1624-62], the period of Koxinga rule [1661-83], Ching dynasty rule [1683-1895], the very brief five months of the Republic of Formosa , Japanese rule [1895-1945] and the period of the Republic of China [1945-date]. My focus was on the sections of the book that dealt with chopmarked coinage as well as his experiences collecting coins. My interview was conducted in person in Taipei.
CG: Why did you decide to write your book World Currencies in Taiwan1?
CH: Actually it was after I read Joe Cribb’s book on Sycee in the British Museum2. That book is a standard reference book in the field of sycee and I noticed a mistake in the description in the section on Taiwan. I decided that I would write a standard reference book for Taiwan, a book that showed the multicultural influences in Taiwan through coins.
CG: have you written anything else?
CH: No but my second book, The World’s Eyes on Taiwan, will be published in a year or two. It’s on Taiwanese history.
CG: How long did it take you to write World Currencies in Taiwan?
CH: About two years.
CG: I know your book isn’t specifically about chop-marked coins but there are a large number of them pictured in the book. I counted 34 pages that have pictures of chopmarked coins which would be probably 150 or so coins. Are they all in your collection?
CH: Most of them are except the very rare Old Man dollars, Paintbrush dollars and Ration dollars or a few others that are noted in the book. These are from another Tai-wan collection.
CG: I know you have also had exhibitions of your collections.
CH: Yes, my book and collections were exhibited in the National History Museum in 2008 and the culture department of Taoyuan County [Taiwan] in 2009. My clock col-lection had also had a public exhibition.
CG: I want to ask you, why do you think so few Chinese collect chopmarked coins? Most of the interest comes from the west, not China or Taiwan.
CH: I think Chinese like perfect things. Chopmarks are considered damage. Personally I like chopmarks on coins – they are a piece of history and tell us something about the coins’ travels as it was used in trade.
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