by Fresco Sam-Sin, Leiden University
With the generous support of the The Nicholas Lowick Memorial Fund for the promotion of Oriental Numismatic Research I was able to visit the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum in the last week of January, 2018. My goal was to have a last close look at the first cash coins of the Aisin era (1616-1636) before finalizing a chapter in which this coinage plays the leading role. My interest this time was especially in one specific, tiny dot. For me, that dot is crucial in answering the question of whether this coinage is genuine Aisin cash, or an anachronistic invention. Aisin cash was cast under the eyes of the first Manchu khans. Their lineage took over Ming China to establish the last dynasty of China, the Daiqing (1644-1912). Aisin coinage throws a new light on the formative years of a ruling elite busy shaping what would become one of the biggest land empires in history.
As always, the department’s staff was very helpful and interested. Curator of East Asian money, Helen Wang, went out of her way to make sure that I had time and space to write and to look at the coins, look again, and then to look some more. I aim to finish my chapter in the coming weeks, and then hope to find an opportunity to present its outcome to the Royal Numismatic Society.