Silver item with Chinese inscription

Left image is clickable
Diamater: 21.5 mm

Images received from Jim Farr (03-Oct-98).

Description from Mr.Hao Sun (29-Apr-99):
  • Above: SHANG HAI (horizontal) Shanghai City
  • Center: MEI HWA CH'UN HAU (vertical) Mei-Hwa-Ch'un Firm
  • Right: SIN PEI MON NEI YUN New North Gate (Inside Cloud??)
  • Left: LU CHIA CHEI CHUNG BAI Lu-Chia Street (Middle White??)
This piece only shown the issuing firm and its location. There is no inscription of fineness or weight. Its diameter (21.5mm) suggested probably a 1 ch'ien (mace,=3.7g) silver cake (unless very thick).

In 1856, several coin-like silver cakes (known as Shanghai Silver Cake) were made under authorized by local goverment offical of Shanghai, they bearing inscriptions of the date, location, issuing firm, silversmith, weight, fineness of silver and name of the supervisor, but soon withdraw from the market because they were easy to forge.

There was no mint in Shanghai until early 1930s, a number of silver cakes were made for circulation by silversmiths.

Between late 1930s to early 1940s, as a result of copper coins shortage, many business firms issued coupons and tokens. Tokens were first used in 1920s by foreign firms and then in phones, buses, night clubs and gambling houses. Most tokens were made of copper, brass, alumium or alloy. Few were silver even bamboo!