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Cash coin from the reign of the Chinese Emperor Qianlong
Chinese name
Long characters
Pinyin (Mandarin) whom
Jyutping (Cantonese) man 4
Vietnamese name
Quốc Ngữ văn
Hán tự
Korean name
Revised Romanization mun
Japanese name
Rōmaji mon

Käsch (English cash , also called caixas , sapeques or gongs in the 16th to 19th centuries by Europeans) is the name for Chinese , Japanese , Korean , Vietnamese and Sino-Indonesian old currency coins made of brass , bronze , copper or, very rarely, iron or . tin or lead with a mostly square and rarely round hole in the middle. In the Ming period, these coins were made of bronze, which was particularly rich in lead, so that they could easily be halved and quartered by breaking. From the beginning, this type of coin was a mostly irredeemable divisional coin of the lower classes of the population. Gold or silver were therefore never used for cash coins. See additionally tael and hole coins .

Coins of this type were made over a period of over two millennia; from the third century BC to the beginning of the twentieth century. Their forerunners were equipment money, spade money and knife money. The cash coins were mostly cast in the so-called coin tree with the typeface bypassing the Zain and Ronde production stages . After breaking out of the cast coin tree and the subsequent deburring, a final polish took place. No other type of coin was anywhere near as long-lived. As nominal was the coin to a KÄSCH most common, it existed even multiple Käschwerte, which also referred to collectively as KÄSCH coins are summarized. Formally, 1000 cash coins were usually valid for one Tael silver bar. The value of a cash coin could vary considerably from province to province, which posed considerable problems for foreigners working in China in particular.

While coins from European monarchies usually show the portrait and / or the name of the ruler, in China it was taboo to show the face or the name of the holy emperor. Instead, the name of the respective government epoch was given on the coins.

Cash coins were usually pulled on strings. A string of five hundred coins was called a tiao ; three tiaos, in turn, resulted in roughly one tael silver bar, the largest Chinese currency unit, but not represented by any coin. As Justus Scheibert noted in The War in China 1900–1901 , you would have required your own carrier to transport these token coins worth only 20 gold marks. The Europeans soon made do with the use of checks, which also minimized the risk of robbery.

Later, the coins were artfully tied together to form so-called cash swords , which were supposed to serve as a symbol of luck and a talisman to ward off hostile spirits. One of the decisive factors was the number of coins; In this respect, the 108 was popular . The cash swords were often given to young wedding couples who then hung the sword over the bed.


The word “cash” is derived from the Sanskrit term कर्ष karsha (small coin with a certain weight) and the Tamil word kasu (small coin). Despite the identical words in English, there is no relationship with the English cash in the sense of cash. The latter is derived from the old French caisse or Italian cassa , which means money box or cash box.


  • Justus Scheibert : The War in China 1900–1901. Along with a description of the country, its customs and traditions. Weller, Berlin 1909.
  • Fernand Braudel : Social history of the 15th - 18th centuries. The everyday. Kindler Verlag, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-463-40025-1 , p. 493ff.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Money's appeal to the imagination. In: National Bank of Belgium , accessed October 17, 2018 .
  2. limited preview in the Google book search
  3. limited preview in the Google book search