E-Sylum contributor Howard A. Daniel III published an article in World Coin News on Lao Copper & Silver ingots. Howard is working on a new catalog of Lao coinage.
As many of you know, I have been collecting, researching and writing about Southeast Asian numismatics since 1964. As soon as I completed my recently published catalog on Cambodia, I started working on a Lao catalog and hope it will be published in December. I am also hoping that Lao ingots will be in future editions of the Krause Publications catalogs.
Many historians and numismatists mistakenly date the first Lao ingots to the first important king of Lan Xang in the 14th century. At that time and until the 19th century, only the kings and the elite of the country used ingots and coins. The remainder of the people used barter for most of their needs and sometimes cowrie shells to complete an imbalance in a transaction.
With Chinese and other neighbors’ ingots and coins coming into the country for Lao products, there was not a need for their own pieces because they could use the foreign pieces to buy the products they needed from the foreign traders. The Khmer, who were closely related to the Lao by marriage, religion and culture, also did not have their own pieces.
In 1558, the Burmese conquered Lao’s neighbors in the Kingdom of Lan Na, with its capital in Chiang Mai, and were headed for Ayutthya to conquer the Siamese. This likely resulted in the Burmese cutting off much of the Lao trading and the resulting supply of foreign ingots and coins. With less silver ingots and coins in the Lao treasury, things were about to change.
Howard's lengthy article goes on to describe five different Lao ingot design types (circa 1560, 1645, 1775-1828, 1855, 1865). He concludes with a request for readers to assist with the cataloging effort. Can any E-Sylum readers help?
I know there will be readers who will want the Lao ingot names changed, and I am looking forward to the discussions, especially from Lao and Thai. Please note the spelling of a king’s names, dates of reign, and other words vary from reference to reference. I am very interested in the current correct spelling of all Lao words, and dates of reign.
The “L” numbers will be in my Lao Coins & Currency catalog, which will also include all known varieties, to include the irregular copper ingots. After collectors learn about Lao ingots, I hope many will start to collect and research them, which should expand our knowledge. Please contact me with your opinions and/or facts about all Lao ingots.
If you own one or more of these ingots, please contact me at
so the catalogs can be updated with any new data, quantities known and/or images.
To read the complete article, see:
Lao Issues Copper, Silver Ingots 1560-1895
Wayne Homren, Editor
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