Sichuan copper coin is the currency of Sichuan local government in the late Qing Dynasty and Beiyang Period. Due to the lack of silver and copper mines in Sichuan Province and the separatist regime of warlords after the revolution of 1911, the central government’s regulations on the proportion of raw materials and denomination of copper coins were not strictly observed. The circulation of copper coins in Sichuan was very large, resulting in high prices and affecting economic development. Sichuan copper coins were first issued in June 1903 in the 29th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1903) and then began to circulate in November of the 24th year of the Republic of China (1935).
清光绪二十六年(1900年),两广总督李鸿章奏准在广东开铸圆形无孔铜币(铜元)。次年,清政府谕令沿江沿海各省准许仿造 。光绪二十七年,四川省在成都设四川铜元局,于二十九年六月开工铸造当五 、当十文面额 铜币,七月增铸当二十文铜币。
In 1900, Li Hongzhang, the governor of Guangdong and Guangdong provinces, issued a circular copper coin without a hole in Guangdong Province. The following year, the Qing government ordered the provinces along the river and coastal areas to permit imitation. In the 27th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu, Sichuan Province set up a Sichuan copper yuan Bureau in Chengdu. In June of the 29th year, the copper coins with the denominations of Dang Wu Wen and Dang Shi Wen were started to be minted, and the copper coins of Dang 20 Wen were added in July.
In the 34th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu, the Ministry of Hu ordered all provinces to suspend the casting of copper coins. Zhao Erfeng, governor of Sichuan Province, asked not to stop and was allowed to continue to cast copper coins. In the first year of Xuantong, Du branch ordered to withdraw and merge the silver and copper factories in all provinces, and Zhao Erfeng once again asked for permission to continue casting. Therefore, Sichuan became one of the few provinces that could continue to cast copper coins of Qing Dynasty in Xuantong period.
After the revolution of 1911, the military government of Sichuan Han Dynasty abolished the copper coin template of Qing Dynasty in April 1912, and changed it into “Han” copper yuan, which has three denominations of 10 Wen, 20 Wen and 50 Wen. In 1913, 100 Wen and 200 Wen copper coins were added. In May 1913, Chongqing Tongyuan Bureau was completed and started to operate, all imitating the Chengdu factory model.
After entering the Northern Warlords era, the current situation was turbulent, and the copper price was high. Therefore, Sichuan Mint took the method of lowering the grade and weight and increasing the face value to seek private interests. Except for the copper coins of old Baiwen and laobaiwen, the others are yellowish white and inferior to those of the Qing Dynasty. Since 1914, it has been specially cast for 100 Wen and 200 Wen. The warlords followed suit, casting hundreds of millions of copper coins, and the currency system of Sichuan was in a mess.
1935年,国民政府在四川推行法币,四川铜币遂逐渐退出流通市场。四川铜币本是辅助货币,用于零星交易,但当一百文、当二百文的铜币大行其道,已不适合于社会生活之情形,卖者无较低面值货币找回,乃给予其他货物,竟退回物物交换的时代。且”劣币驱逐良币”,当50文、20文、10文的铜币早已绝迹于川省,或者流出省外 。银价、物价飞涨,严重影响中下层人民生活,例如1934年宜宾市面银价涨至每元二十五六串 。
In 1935, the national government carried out legal currency in Sichuan, and Sichuan copper coins gradually withdrew from the circulation market. Sichuan copper coins were originally auxiliary currency, which were used for sporadic transactions. However, when 100 Wen and 200 Wen copper coins became popular, they were no longer suitable for the situation of social life. The seller did not get back the currency with lower face value, but gave other goods and returned them to barter. And “bad money drives out good money”, when 50 Wen, 20 Wen, 10 Wen copper coins have already disappeared in Sichuan Province, or out of the province. Silver prices and prices soared, seriously affecting the lives of the middle and lower classes. For example, in 1934, the price of silver in Yibin rose to 256 per yuan.
停铸大面值四川铜币的声音一直都有,整理川省币制的文章也常见于报载。例如1915年《成都造币分厂详请停铸当五十铜币以防流弊》一文中直指”厂中铸本亏折太甚,又不得不多铸当五十铜元,以资接济,明知多铸铜元为饮鸩止渴之谋,而维持现状,实一时权宜之计” 。1925年《四川铜币之整理问题》一文中作者提出铸造新铜币、销毁旧铜币、限制流通额、发行铜元票、监管铜元局五条建议 。1925年四川公民骆身斋等通电请求政府停铸大额铜币 。
The voice of stopping to cast large denominations of Sichuan copper coins has always been heard, and articles sorting out Sichuan currency system are also common in newspapers. For example, in 1915, Chengdu minting branch asked to stop casting Dang 50 copper coins in order to prevent malpractice, which pointed out that “the company had to cast more than 50 copper yuan because of the loss of capital, and knew that it was a strategy of drinking poison to quench thirst, and to maintain the status quo, which was the right plan for the moment.”. In 1925, the author put forward five suggestions: casting new copper coins, destroying old copper coins, limiting the circulation amount, issuing copper dollar bills, and supervising the copper yuan Bureau. In 1925, Luo shenzhai, a citizen of Sichuan Province, called on the government to stop casting large amounts of copper coins.
In the late 1930’s, the national government began to reorganize the financial order in Sichuan and promote fiat money, which was hindered by local interest groups. They hoarded copper coins, which led to a sudden lack of copper coins in the market, and the exchange value of French currency suddenly fell. Therefore, the national government issued special policies to protect the implementation of fiat money.