In the 14th century, Ho dynasty printed Viet Nam's first leaf money (paper money) with designs of seaweed, waves, clouds, and turtles using a simple lithographic process. The material was passed through 2 carved stone rollers, which was inked with vegetable dyes. After the Ho dynasty, money went back to being made from metal.

Tien Viet co the thanh 3 tieu muc:
1. Tien te Viet Nam duoi thoi phong kien 968-1874
2. Tien te Viet Nam duoi thoi Phap thuoc 1875-1846
3. Tien te Viet Nam duoi thoi ky doc lap, tu chu 1952-1975

Dong tien dau tien duoc duc duoi trieu vua Dinh Tien Hoang, mang chu "Thai Binh Hung Bao". Trong 1000 nam, tu nha Han den nha Nguyen, cac trieu vua da phat hanh kha nhieu tien, nhung so lieu ve tien duc va luu hanh khong ro vi khong co van kho.

The European commercial ships came to Viet Nam for commerce from 17th century during the conflict between Trinh and Nguyen Lords. Foreign coins, local pieces of "sou", zinc coins were utilized in business. When realizing Viet Nam is abundant in its resources, the French want to occupy it because of their savage ambition. After Saigon lost to the French in 1859, the Bank of Indochina was founded. The French gradually replaced the foreign coins, pieces of "sou", ingots of gold by Indochinese money to mark France's domination over the Indochina peninsula consisting of colony of Cochinchina, protectorates of Annam and Tonkin, Cambodia, and Laos.

In 1875, the French brought their 1 centime coins and had them punched with hole at a Navy arsenal in Saigon. This coin was named sapeque and intended to replace all Viet Nam coins. Since the rate of exchange was not clear and lucrative, the centime was not preferred by the local people. In 1879, the French produced a series of new coins to be used in Cochinchina. The word COCHINCHINE FRANCAISE (French Cochinchina) was printed on all the coins. They were composed of:
10 cent, 20 cent, and 50 cent silver coins, with picture of a seated lady wearing crown symbolized of the republic of France.
1 cent bronze coins, with centered rectangular hole and Chinese BACH PHAN CHI (one percentage). It looked like a playing card thus local people called it XU LA BAI (one-cent playing card coin).
The sapeque was casted again with many new models made of brass, valued 1/5 of 1 cent. It was larger than the centime, with centered square hole, and in Chinese - FRENCH ANNAM DAI PHAP QUOC CHI AN NAM and DANG NHI. In 1885, the first 1 piastre silver coin was made, weighted 27.2156 gram and pure silver of .9000 fine, after the design of the Republic Lady.

In 1905, the French issued another model of sapeque to North Viet Nam to replace all bronze coins but without success. On one side of the coin, the words PROTECTORAT DU TONKIN and on the other side, the Chinese LUC BACH PHAN NHAT CHI THONG BAO indicating the value of this piece was 1/600 of 1 piastre.

At the end of 1885, all coins from sapeque to piastre were imprinted with the sign of INDO-CHINE FRANCAISE instead of COCHICHINE FRANCAISE so they could be used in entire Indochina. The production of Indochina sapeque was stopped in 1903. Their values were declined since WW1 and the silver content in the coin were continuously reduced. The first 20 cent coin weighs 5.4331 gram with pure silver of .9000 fine. The last ones weighs 5.400 gram with pure silver.6800 fine.

A number of coins with new style were made to replace the old ones.
In 1895, the 1 cent brass coins with symbol of France and Chinese BACH PHAN NHAT CHI (1/100 of a piastre).
In 1923, the 5 cent bronze/nickel coins with symbol of France wearing wreath of olive branches.
In 1931, the 1 piastre silver coins weighing 20 gram and pure silver of .9000 fine, with symbol of France wearing olive wrath.
In 1935, the 1/2 cent brass coins with Liberty hat and letters RF.

During WW2, Paris was occupied on June 66 1940 which caused trouble on politics and economics in Indochina. Communication with France was interrupted and under the Japanese oppression in every aspect, the Indochinese government changed the coins several times to mark new phases.

The coins produced in this era were:
In 1939, 10 cent and 20 cent brass/nickel coins, with symbol of France holding a branch of rice on the front, and picture of a bunch of rice branches on the back.
In 1940, 1 cent bronze coins, with picture of a Phrygian hat (bonnet phrygien= a red hat appeared in French Revolution).
In 1943, 1 and 5 cent aluminum coins, with the words ETAT FRANCAISE.
In 1943, 1/4 cent bronze coins, with the words ETAT FRANCAISE.

The world war ended; the Japanese surrendered; the French followed the Allied forces to disarm the Japanese in order to return to Viet Nam. The Franco-Vietnamese war started again and the struggle for Viet Nam independence grew stronger and stronger. In 1945, the French government in Indochina issued a new metal coins made of cheaper material.

The coins of Indochina increasingly lost value.
The 5, 10, and 20 cent aluminum coins, with the same design of bunch of rice branches as of 1939.
1 piastre bronze/nickel coins, also with the design of a bunch of rice branches.
50 cent bronze/nickel coins, with the picture of Republic Lady.

After the world war, the French economics was exhausted while the battlefield of Indochina became raging. France wanted to mollify the high tide of struggle for Viet Nam independence by using politics rather than military forces. The Ha Long Agreement was signed followed by the Auriol-Bao Dai Agreement in 1949. According to these two agreements, France should recognize the independence and unification of Viet Nam with a condition that Viet Nam would join the French Union. The coins were again changed their names.

In 1953, the National Institute of Issue of Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam produced 3 kinds of new coins made of aluminum: 10, 20, and 50 cent with picture of 3 Vietnamese girls representing North, Central, and South Viet Nam. On one side of the coins were the words QUOC GIA VIET NAM. On the other side, a picture of a bunch of rice branches on the 10 and 20 cent coins; a picture of a dragon on the 50 cent coins. The "3 girl" coins were in use until the French's defeat at Dien Bien Phu and withdrawal from Viet Nam in 1954, after a few year of the foundation of the first republic of Viet Nam.

Giay Bo Lu - Banque De L'Indochine
In 1859, the French occupied Saigon and surrounding area which began the formation of the Indochina peninsula under French administration. Indochina was composed of five parts: Cochinchine (South), Annam (Central), Tonkin (North Viet Nam), Cambodia, and Laos. Strings of zinc coins of Nguyen Dynasty were replaced gradually by piastre and cent, new paper notes and coins.

In 1875, the French administration issued Law of January 21st allowing the formation of Indochine Bank, a joint union between French administration and 3 private banks in Europe. This bank monopolized the production of money that circulated in Indochina peninsula and other French's colonies. The central bank was located in Paris with branches in Saigon, Haiphong, Vientiane, Pnompenh, Djibouti, Pondichery, Noumea, Paeete, and New Hebrides.

The first Indochine paper notes were issued by decrees 21-1-1885, 20-2-1888, 16-5-1900, and 3-4-1901. On front is the decree date of issuance DECRETS DU 21 JANVIER 1895, name of the branch, date of circulation, and the value of the paper note in English and French ONE DOLLAR / UNE PIASTRE. The piastre is equivalent to every foreign trade currency at this time. On back is the design of dragon and phoenix, with the value of the paper note in Chinese, the title INDOCHINE TRADE BANK, and Chinese inscription REPORTED EDITION to display proof of issuance. After 1903, the piastre was lost in value thus the value in dollar was not printed on the note. In 1920, the inscription of decree date of circulation also vanished.

Since 1923, a series of new bank notes were issued with the inscription INDOCHINE BANK but without the embossed seal in the middle of two words INDO-CHINE. On both sides are scenery of Asia. Based on the image of these notes, people refered to them as "giay con cong" (peacock note) to indicate 5 piastre notes or "giay bo lu" (incense-burner note) to indicate 100 piastre notes. The paper notes' values were printed in 5 languages: French, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Chinese. The 500 piastre notes was the highest value issued in 1939.

WW2 broke out in Europe, the communication between France and Indochina became difficult and completely interrupted in 1940. When the German troops occupied Paris, the Japanese spreaded out into Viet Nam via China, but still placed Indochina under the authority of French Governor Decoux, being dependent on French Petain administration who took the side of Germans. During this time, the Indochina administration issued a new paper note with inscription GOUVERNEMENT GENERAL DE L'INDOCHINE (Government General of Indochina) by contracting with IDEO (Imprimerie d'Extreme-Orient) printing office in Hanoi. Due to the war and the lack of communication with France, the scarcity of ink and material for fine paper printing has caused the bad quality paper notes. The Japanese administration did not issue the occupation money in Indochina as they did in Philippine, China, and Malaya. However, in areas under their influence, the Japanese distributed a number of Japanese currency. The 50 sen, 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, and 100 yen paper notes were similar to the notes issued by the Japanese in China, but in different color plus two letters RO and the Chinese inscription GOVERNMENT OF GREAT EMPIRE OF JAPAN. Those rare paper notes are of high value in the numismatist's market.

At the end of WW2, the French came back to Indochina. By confronting the movement Independence for Viet Nam, the French applied a policy of more tolerant rule, but still followed the general Lyautey's policy of "divide to easy control and exert power". The Franco-Vietnamese war became raging and exhausted French's potentialities which were already declined after the world war. The Auriol-Bao Dai Agreement came into being, the French recognized the independence and unification of Viet Nam, but Viet Nam should join the French Union. On 31 December 1951, the paper money issuance power was transferred to Institute of Issuance (commonly known as Institute of Issuance of Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam). However, Indochina Bank continued to publish Indochina paper notes until the Institute of Issuance was capable of produce the required amount for Indochina. The paper notes used in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, and within the French Union had same characteristics. On front is the inscription INSTITUT D'EMISSION DES ETATS DU CAMBODGE, DU LAOS, ET DU VIETNAM and the value of the notes in French. On back is a symbol of each nation, INSTUTION OF ISSUANCE inscription and the value in Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian. The highest value paper note in Indochina was 1000 piastre. The design was a sample and has never been issued. In 1954-1956, due to shortage in small changes, 1 piastre notes were torn into two to replace 50 cents; when assembled together, the note had the value of its sum. Over a century of domination, the French was defeated in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu. They signed the Geneva Agreement, marking their last days in Indochina peninsula.

left: Tien SONG CHUC
right: Tien QUY DAU

Since 17th century, Europeans have reached seacoasts of Asian countries for trading services. Faifo (in Quang nam Province), Ke Cho (Hanoi), Macao, Malacca had been busy trading centers in Asia under the dynasties of Trinh and Nguyen. Coins, bars of silver, bars of gold had been utilized as means of commerce, but they also caused many incoveniences for Europeans, especially after the Chinese Thanh Emperors ordered ban of silver and gold export. The need of money for exchange in business between European and Asian countries became desperate. Thus, the Mexican "8 Reales" silver coins became commonly used.

In 18th century, two types of Mexican 8 Reales coins were utilized for commerce in most of countries along the coast from India to Japan, including Viet Nam. The first type has a picture of two terrestrial globes with royal crowns in the middle of two pillars, was commonly called "Pillar dollar" by numismatists. These coins were produced in the reign of Philip V (1683-1746), Ferdinand VI (1746-1759), and Charles III (1759-1788). Vietnamese history reported that in the reign of Chua Thuong, the Netherlands made a formal charge against local Vietnamese authorities for confiscated 25,580 Mexican 8 Reales coins when their ship was sunk and rescued in Viet Nam territorial waters. Section 27 of the Quy Mui Agreement under the reign of Hiep Hoa also mentioned of the official circulation of Mexican 8 Reales in Viet Nam.

front & back: Tien MA KIEM
front (1.5 actual size): Tien GENHO TSUHO

In 19th century, the intercontinental communication became important to the economic development of all nations. A great number of government allowed to produce the silver trade dollars for convenience of commerce. In Viet Nam, trade dollars of foreign countries were also widely utilized together with the Mexican 8 Reales coins, piastre of Indochina, and silver bars of Nguyen Dynasty.

left: Bac CON CO with HOA XOE in back
right: Bac CAN CAN

The Mexican 8 Reales coin weights 27.07 gram of pure silver.903 fine, with picture of an eagle on the front, and the Libertad hat surrounded by sunlights on the back. The local people gave it a nasty name as "bac hoa xoe" (coin with picture of a fully opened flower) or "bac con co" (coin with picture of a stork). A Vietnamese folk song also expressed that these coins got deep impression in the life of people.
The Mexican 1 peso coin was a reproduction of the 8 Reales coin after 1900 by the decimal system.
The Mexican 1 peso coin was in the same weight as the 8 Reales coin. It has a picture of a scale on the front and the picture of an eagle on the back. Its common name was "scale silver coin".

left: Bac CON GAI
middle: Dong YEN
right: Dong ngoai thuong cua England

The US 1 dollar coin weights 27.22 gram with pure silver .900 fine. On front is a picture of a girl holding an olive branch surrounded by 13 stars symbolized 13 original states. On back is a picture of an eagle and the word TRADE DOLLAR. Its popular name was "girl silver coin". In Dai Nam Hoa Te Do Luc (Annam, Etude numismatique = Numismatics of Viet Nam), Albert Schroeder mentioned on "draped bust", Gobrecht (?), and "seated Liberty" 1 dollar coins, but he did not say whether or not these coins were utilized in Viet Nam. A Indochina document mentioned of "girl silver coins".
The HK 1 dollar coin weights 26.9568 gram with pure silver .900 fine, with picture of Queen Victoria on the front, and a big Chinese THO (meaning Longevity) with the word ONE DOLLAR encircled Chinese HUONG CANG NHAT VIEN (Hong Kong, One Dollar).
The Japanese 1 yen coin weights 27.220 gram and of pure silver .7876, with picture of a dragon and the word TRADE DOLLAR on the front, and Chinese MAU DICH NGAN (Trade Silver) or NHAT VIEN (One Dollar) on the other side.
The English 1 dollar coin weights 96.9568 gram with pure silver of .9000 fine. On front is a picture of maritime goddess Britannia holding a spear and design motifs on the back.

There were also the French 5 franc coins with picture of Napoleon III, and the Cambodian 1 piastre/ 1 peso coins with picture of Norodom I circulated in Viet Nam. During this time, due to the shortage of small change, the people usually cut the coins into two, four, or eight parts. The word "giac" (meaning angle; a common Hue term) used to indicate one "cac" (ten cent piece). The trade dollars were also categorized in "clean dollar" and "chop dollar" to differentiate verified and non-verified coins. Once verified, the merchants usually imprint a tiny personal mark such as "thap" (cross), "thien", or a circle for future identification. At times, people preferred "chop dollar" over "clean dollar". In the beginning of 20th century, when the Bank of Indochina came to existence, the trade dollars of other nations and the pieces of "sou" (bronze coin) of Nguyen Dynasty were gradually replaced by the CENT coin, and PIASTRE paper notes.


Thuan Luc, May 1999

There was no historical record to recite exactly when the Japanese started trading with Viet Nam. Vietnamese historians only knew that Chinese merchants traded with the Viet a couple hundred years before the Japanese. According to Professor Hasebe Gakuji and Professor Aoyagi Yogi from a recent archaeological expedition in Japan, fragments of Vietnamese ceramic were found in a northern part of Kyushu island. Among them was a wooden plate with character showing the date 1330 on it. Did the Japanese go to the Viets or the Viets sailed to Kyushu? Or perhaps the Chinese, and the Javanese acting as middle man traded these goods northward? Vietnamese history records showed that when Lord Nguyen Hoang founded Hoi An port at the beginning of the 17th century, hundreds of Japanese residents were already there.

Early Vietnamese official records documented the first contact between the Japanese and the Viets occurred in 1585. Lord Nguyen Hoang's sixth son led a squadron of more than ten ships to Cua Viet seaport where he destroyed two of the pirates' ships of Kenki, a Japanese pirate mistaken for a Westerner. Later in 1599, Kenki's ship had been wrecked in the ThuanAn seaport and captured by Lord Nguyen Hoang's general. In 1601, Lord Nguyen Hoang sent the first official letter to Tokugawa Shogunate apologizing for his attacking the ship belonging to Kenki, a Japanese merchant, and to praise for the amicable friendship between the two countries.

Tracing back through history, there were good explanations for the Japanese wanting to trade with the Viets. Since the Tang dynasty in the 8th century, Chinese merchants had already crossed the open ocean to Japan, Champa, and Java for commercial trade. And in the 12th century, the Japanese merchants began sailing to China with the same purpose. During the Ming dynasty in the 16th century, trade friction between Japan and China mounted as Japanese pirates attacked many Chinese seaports. The Ming banned its citizens from trading abroad with foreigners, especially the Japanese regardless of whether they are honest Japanese merchants or pirates and applied the embargo policy towards Japanese ships. During that period, Japan desperately needed high-quality Chinese raw silk for their royal Court and war materials for their army. Therefore when direct trade with China was becoming increasingly difficult, the Japanese merchants alternatively turned south towards Vietnamese ports, neutral trading sites with Chinese merchants. That may explain why Hoi An in Cochin-china and Pho Hien, Ke Cho in Tonkin became prosperous for several decades during the 17th century.

In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated the Hideyori loyalists in the battle of Sekigahara. Three years later, Ieyasu was appointed Shogun by the emperor. It marked the beginning of the Edo era and the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan for over 250 years. The Shogun often exchanged correspondence with Lord Nguyen Hoang. The commercial trade between the two countries prospered during this period.

According to Professor Kawamoto Kuniye, in the Gaiban Tsuuho - a collection of official diplomatic documents of trade between Japan and other countries from 1599 to 1764, in a reply to Lord Nguyen Hoang in the 10th month of the year 1601 Ieyasu stated that 'In the future, ships visiting your country from our country are to be certified by the seal shown on this letter, and ships not carrying the seal should not be deemed lawful'. Hence the Shuinsen (Vermillion Seal) policy came into effect. Any Japanese merchant ship carrying the red seal of Tokugawa must be considered as the Shogun's representative to trade with foreign countries. The powerful Shuinsen trade license, by the authority of the Shogun, was issued only to the noble families in Japan such as Chaya, Araki Store, Phuramoto, Suminnokura.

Professor Iwao Seichi has traced the number of Japanese red-seal ships clearing for the Great Viet and found that at least 124 ships visited both Tonkin and Cochin-china in the period from 1604 to 1635, besides the number of ships which did not have license or arrived before 1604. The Viet rulers successfully achieved commercial trade with Japan in the 17th century.

Number of ships in year Tonkin Cochin-china
1604-1605 5 9
1606-1610 2 9
1611-1615 3 26
1616-1620 9 22
1621-1625 6 7
1626-1630 3 5
1631-1635 9 9

Every year, during the month of January through March, when the favorable NorthEast wind for sailing South was blowing, Japanese ships with heavy loads of silver and copper arrived at the Viets river-ports. In Hoi An, to handle the large influx of Japanese, the local authority set up a Japanese town quarter, Nihomachi. And the Chinese merchants had a nearby town quarter as well. They exchanged goods with each other or with the locals in open market fair. The Japanese preferred Chinese or Vietnamese raw silk, sugar, spices, sandalwood. In the early 17th century, Christoforo Borri who lived in Hoi An noted about the profit from the trade 'This Calamba (sandal wood) where it is gathered, is valued 5 ducats the pound; yet at the Port of Cochin-china it yields more; and scarcely to be had under 16 ducats the pound: and being transported to Japan, it is valued at 200 ducats the pound...with a piece of such greatness that a man lay his head on it, as on a pillow, the Japanese will give 300 or 400 ducats the pound'. When the SouthEast trade wind blew during July, August, the fleet of merchant ships began to leave the Great Viets heading home. In the Inner Region, Chaya Shirojiro was the most famous merchant who bought fine silk, sandalwood, calamba and sold copper coins, silver, bronze to Nguyen Lord.

The friendship between two countries developed quickly at both national and local level. Nguyen Lord and Tokugawa exchanged letters and gifts annually through Japanese merchants. In 1604, Lord Nguyen Hoang even took the initiative to adopt Hunamoto Yabeiji, a Japanese merchant. Later on, Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, Lord Nguyen Hoang's son, tried to improve upon relationship even further. According to Phan Khoang in Viet Su, Xu Dang Trong (Vietnamese history, the Inner region), Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen married his daughter, Princess Ngoc Khoa, to Araki Shutaro, another Japanese merchant. Lord Nguyen even permitted Araki to have a royal Vietnamese name as Nguyen Taro, called Hien Hung. Nguyen Lord also wrote to some other Japanese merchants, Honda Kouzukenosuke and Chaya Shiro Jiro encouraging them to pursue trading in the Inner Region.

Meanwhile the relationship between Japan and the Outer Region did not improved much. Before 1635, fewer Japanese ships arrived in Tonkin and Japanese merchants set up trade office in Pho Hien and Thang Long. The most famous Japanese merchant in the Outer Region was Suminokura Kyoi who sold copper coins, arms and silver to Lord Trinh and bought fine silk. Until Tokugawa promulgated the close-door policies, sakoku, in 1635 and Japanese merchants were banned to go abroad, a number of Japanese merchants decided to stay and moved to the Outer Region to settle definitely. The Dutch as their best intermediaries to contact with the Vietnamese merchants hired those who were familiar to Vietnamese customs, experienced in trade and spoke the local language fluently. Because the relationship between the Dutch and Nguyen Lord was poor, the Dutch maintained more frequent contacts with Trinh Lord. According to Dumoutier, some Japanese had close relationship with the Court. He mentioned about a Japanese lady, Ouroussan became a beloved concubine of King Le Than Tong.

Japanese merchants were at ease with the natives in the region. They mixed with Vietnamese people and adopted local customs gradually. A great number of Japanese merchants married the local people and donated money to repair or to build Buddhist pagodas and bridges. In the ancient town of HoiAn, the Japanese bridge, namely the Bridge-shaped Pagoda also, connecting Tran Phu street and Nguyen thi Minh Khai street was the best symbol of the Japanese-Vietnamese friendship.

To understand why Japanese merchants brought copper coins to the Viets for trade in the 17th century, one should review the monetary history of Japan. Japan was originally rich in natural resources of precious metals such as silver, gold and copper. As early as the beginning of the 8th century, gold, silver and copper coins not only existed but also were minted in Japan. These coins were made for reward more than for use as a means of exchange. In those days, Japan was still in the stage of barter economy. From the 12th century to 1587, Japan stopped minting and sent goods to China to exchange for Chinese copper coins, as demand for coins gradually increased. In the 15th century Ashikaga Shogunate sent request to the Ming dynasty in China many times for a supply of copper coins. Therefore the Toraisen, a imported coin from China, and such as Jia Ding Tung Pao (Katei Tsuho) of the Sung, Hong Wu Tung Pao (Kobu tsuho) and Yung Lo Tung Pao (Eiraku Tsuho) of the Ming circulated throughout Japan. Meanwhile the supply of Toraisen was still not enough to fulfil the demand for money due to the expansion of commercial trades. The nobles to fill the gap minted Shichusen, privately minted Japanese coin. In the 16th century, cracked or worn out Toraisen and poor quality Shichusen were called Bitasen, a poor quality coin. People began to select coins and to refuse the face value of Bitasen. In the Tokugawa period, the exchange ratio between the Toraisen and Bitasen was 4 to 1. The Shogun wanted to resolve the monetary disorder, to monopolize the authority of minting coins and to standardize Japanese currency. In 1608, Tokugawa prohibited the circulation of Bitasen, including the imported Chinese coins. He promoted the production of gold, silver and copper mines and the application of sophisticated Chinese technology to refine the metal. Gold and silver coin and bar as well as the Tensho Tsuho, Genna Tsuho and Kanei Tsuho began to replace the old coins.

Japanese merchants got a bright idea of buying these devalued and banned coins with a low price in Japan and selling them to the foreign merchants, then to other countries, making huge profits. In that period, Nguyen Lord had conflict with Trinh Lord. The southern Nguyen ruler needed copper to cast canon for the war. And in 1651, Prince Yung Ming in China required Nagasaki to provide copper coins as well. The local authority in Nagasaki began to cast the Yung Li Tung Pao (Eiryaku Tsuho) for the Ming. Near the end of the 17th century, Lord Nghia (Nguyen Phuc Tran) asked Tokugawa to provide copper coins on his behalf. Japanese coin export was so profitable for the merchants and the Shogunate. However, after the local government following repeated rejections made several requests by the Shogunate, finally Tokugawa permitted Nagasaki to cast coins only for trade from the 2nd year of Manji (1659) to the 2nd year of Jokyo (1685). According to Kristof Glamann in the Dutch Asiatic trade 1620 - 1740, the VOC vessels also shipped the Nagasaki coins to Europe, Netherlands on their way back home.

In Tonkin, the Japanese trade coins were circulated or were melted to make utensils as well. Alexandre de Rhodes, the French priest lived in the Outer Region in 1627, recited in his book that the current coin in Tonkin consisted of large copper coin brought in from Japan and small coin minted locally. Large coins were circulated everywhere, but small coins were used only in the capital and four surrounding districts. The value of the local coin varied depending on the quantities of great cash brought in each year but was normally priced at 10 small cash to 6 large cash.

Date Some details in the Register of the British East India Company showed the busy activity of coin trade in Pho Hien, Tonkin
Aug 22, 1672 3 Dutch ships arrived from Batavia bringing 6 millions Japanese cash and 1000 tael of silver
Apr 7, 1675 1 Chinese junk arrived from Japan with copper cash and silver
Jun 17, 1675 1 Dutch ship arrived from Batavia with 80 chests of Japanese cash
Feb 23, 1676 2 Chinese junks arrived from Japan to bring silver and cash

Meanwhile Cochin-china did not have natural resources for casting coin and Nguyen Lord desperately needed copper during the wartime. Source of copper of the region mainly came from Japan, and then China and Batavia. Even later, the fighting between Trinh Nguyen was over, the southern Nguyen ruler's need for copper for trading became increasingly important. The VOC Registers provided some details about the coin trade business. From 1633 to 1637, VOC imported 105,834 strings of cash coin, each string had about 960 coins. The total of imported coins to Cochin-china was 101600640 coins for the five year period. Dr. A van Aelst gave more details: 1,250,000 Yung Lo Tung Pao coin and 1,000,000,00 Kanei Tsuho coins. When the Japanese closed-door policy came into effect, Japanese merchants transferred their stock of 200 tons of cash coins to the Dutch to ensure a continuous supply. Was the amount of imported copper coins into Cochin-china tremendous? That was the reason why Le Quy Don complained in his book Phu Bien Tap Luc that 'The Nguyen wasted lot of copper. They even used copper to make nails, door hinges.'. Tracing back to the Register Record of the VOC, we could see the profit margin of the coin trade in the 17th century. During 1635 - 1636, one string of cash coins valued 1 liang of silver in Japan could be priced at 10.5 liang in the Great Viet.

Without mentioning about the Bitasen coins like Eiraku Tsuho that the Japanese brought in the Great Viet, there were three kinds of Nagasaki coins:

Nagasaki YungLi coin (Nagasaki Eiryaku Sen)
Nagasaki Five Element coin (Nagasaki Gogyo Sen)
Nagasaki trade coins (Nagasaki Boeki Sen).

The Nagasaki YungLi coins were copied from the Chinese Yung Li coin and used in Taiwan island. Yung Li was the reign title of Prince Yung Ming who was enthroned in Kwang Tung after the Ching already captured PeKing. The Prince sent order to Nagasaki for copper coins. The Nagasaki Five Elements coins were cast to wish good luck to Teiseiko who defected to Taiwan. There were five types of this coin: Four Metal (Kin Sen), Four Wood (Moku Sen), Four Water (Sui Sen), Four Fire (Ka Sen) and Four Earth (Do Sen). The Nagasaki trade coins, as well as silver and gold bar and raw copper were used for trade between the Japanese and the Great Viet in the 17th century. According to Kristof Glamann in 'Dutch Asiatic trade 1620-1740', in 1621 ,the Japanese copper coins were shipped to Netherland for testing in Amsterdam. The result did not come up to expectations. The most common Nagasaki trade coins were found with the inscription Yuan Feng Tung Pao, namely Genho Tsuho in Japanese. There were about 40 versions of GenHo Tsuho Nagasaki coins. Some had the character Feng smaller than the others. Some were written in orthodox style, or grass style (Gyo Sho Genho), seal script style (Cho Kan Ho Genho). The inscriptions of Nagasaki trade coins were copied from the Sung dynasty's reign title. The diameter of Nagasaki trade coins was about 24 mm. However there were special characteristics between Sung's coins and Nagasaki coins to differentiate them. The prominent feature of Nagasaki coins was the large square hole with the side about 7mm to 8mm, the rim of the hole were very straight and neat. The second important feature was the simplicity of characters on the coin. Sometimes the stroke was so simple making the coin unique, for example the character Feng of Genho Tsuho in grass styles. The rust of oxidized copper on Nagasaki coins sometimes looked different in color than Chinese coin. Perhaps the combination of alloy in Japanese coin played an important role for this feature. The Xian Fu Yuan Pao, namely Shofu Genho in Japanese, were commonly used as the Genho Tsuho. Its characters were on the clockwise direction. Other Japanese trade coins written in orthodox style as Jia You Tung Pao (Kayu Tsuho), Xi Ning Yuan Pao (Kinei Genho), Tian Sheng Yuan Pao (Tensei Genho) and Huang Sung Tung Pao were found in Vietnam territory. According to Ta Chi Dai Truong in 'Nhung Bai Da Su Viet' (The Vietnamese unofficial history), the Tai Ping Tong Pao, namely Taisei Tsuho in Japanese, with either the character 'bun' (Van in Vietnamese) or the dot and crescent on the reverse side was considered as Nagasaki trade coin. Several Japanese trade coins were written in seal script style such as Zhi Ping Yuan Pao (Jihei Genho), Shao Sheng Yuan Pao (Shosei Genho) and Xi Ning Yuan Pao (Kinei Genho).

According to Mr. Le Hoan Hung in Saigon and Mr. Francois Thierry in France, there were Vietnamese copied versions of Nagasaki trade coins. With several years of collecting Vietnam cash coin, Hung cited that the most common Vietnamese copied version was Genho Tsuho and that the calligraphy of character Feng of the copied version was poor. Other copied versions were small and thin. Francois recently informed me about his study in alloy of Nagasaki trade coins and coins mentioned in Phu Bien Tap Luc (Miscellaneous Records of pacification in the Border Area). His research would be published in 1999.

Since 1633, even as Tokugawa Shogunate banned Japanese traders from going abroad, the trade between Japan and other Asian countries still flourished. After the closure of Japan, the Dutch ships and the Chinese junks from Southeast Asian ports were still permitted to visit Nagasaki. The main Japanese supplier turned over his stock of copper coins for Cochin-china to the Dutch East India company. The Japanese sakoku policy was not primarily a policy of economic isolation. However until 1685, when the regulations of restricting silver export and then copper export in 1715 were strictly applied, the trade was in decline. Silver and copper acted as stimulus to the trade in Asia at that time. When the export of these metals were restricted, the copper coin trade declined rapidly and trading overseas in Asia was in an deep slump.

At the beginning of the 18th century, Englishmen and Spaniard merchants seldom visited the Great Viet because they realized that the profit was not significant as it was in the past. Englishmen found that the cotton market in India was more promissing. The Malayan peninsula and West Java lost its monopoly on spices market because these products could be found in Africa and South America as well. The overseas trade in the Great Viet was reduced significantly. The declining period of Pho Hien, HoiAn ports and Cachao came into existence. Both the Inner Region and the Outer region of the Great Viet saw unpleasant economic hardship. A series of famine, natural disaster and epidemic lead to the collapse of both Trinh Nguyen regimes before the rise of the great Tay Son.

The Geneva Agreement signed in 1954 has concluded the French colonization of the Indochinese peninsula. The 17th latitude was designated as border of two regions: North and South Viet Nam. In the South, the first republic was established by Ngo Dinh Diem when he was elected president on October 26 1955. The second republic was established by Nguyen Van Thieu when he was elected president on September 3 1967. For numismatists, the period of 40 or 50 years isn't long enough for a formerly, largely circulated paper notes to become scarce. However, a number of paper notes in these two republics, for some reason became interesting objects/subjects.

$1000 BANKNOTES: 1,000 samples of this paper note were printed out, but the handy notes were never issued.

17,500,000 of this paper note were printed and issued in South Viet Nam; however these paper notes aren't relatively available for collectors. According to a reliable source, President Diem ordered the recall after reviewing the design. In his knowledge, there isn't any state with design of combat soldiers on its paper notes.

The 2 types of $500 paper notes, one with picture of Thien Mu Pagoda and other with picture of Independence Palace, which issued during the first republic were recovered on August 21 1964. The recall was dued to a large number of counterfeits were in circulation. Totaled of 5,599,000 old paper notes were returned for new ones. The replacement note has a picture of the Museum.

$5000 and $10000 BANKNOTES: The economic situation in South Viet Nam declined after the withdrawal of the Allied forces. Inflation pressure was overwhelming during 1973 and 1974. Public opinion vehemently opposed when the government planned to circulate $5000 and $10000 paper notes. The National Bank had printed 46 million $5000 paper notes with picture of a leopard head and 24 million $10000 paper notes with picture of a cow head. According to a friendly source, 2 months before the historical event of April 30 1975, these paper notes were issued to pay salaries to high level functionaries, to use in bank transactions, and to distribute to local banks. Few number of these paper notes still can be found in numismatists' circles dued to already circulated ones and possibly stolen ones when the banks were plundered during their transitions.

The last paper notes of the second republic was the $1000 paper notes bearing the patriot Truong Cong Dinh's picture. This paper note was only sample and never issued. According to a friendly source, the issuance of this paper note had been planned before the above-mentioned $5000 and $10000.

AUTHOR: Thuan D. Luc

COLLECTION: Bao Tung Nguyen

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