Very nice Yan Huan Wu Zhu cash, late Eastern Han period, ca.150-220 AD, China

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Partially seen two Chinese characters Wu Zhu (=5 Zhu), shallow outer rim / Blank, no rims. 25mm, 1.48 grams. Gratzer/Fishman #B4.342; Schjöth #304; Hartill 10.27. SKU Q307-48689

These coins are the late Wu Zhu coins are called "Yan Huan Wu Zhu" ("Thread Ring Wu Zhu"). They are official Eastern Han coins were modified in an interesting way. The existing official coins were cut into two pieces, a narrow outer ring and a smaller inner piece. Only one intact piece could be made from each official large Wu Zhu; the second piece could not be kept undamaged and was probably melted down. The value of the outer piece is thought to have been equal to that of the inner piece because both the “inner” and “outer” pieces are often found together. This modification was probably done officially, in time of economic trouble or coin shortage, to increase the amount of coins in circulation. These coins are found in graves dating to Emperor Huan Di and his successors, though the small “inner” coin might have circulated in later periods as well, so they can be dated to the late Eastern Han period (perhaps during the period of the anarchy which followed the weakening and the collapse of the Eastern Han), though it is likely they circulated in later times as well.

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