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Guess how much of this particular coin was melted down - Korea 1/4 yang


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I picked up a rather interesting old coin book published by the Bank of Korea dated around 1970s and this book really astounded me in many ways - books that was published in the early 2000s look really pale in comparsion compared to what was in this book.


The topic of discussion will be limited to just nickel copper coin for the moment. Nickel copper coins, when introduced in the late 1800s, was an idea to reduce the amount of silver used for coinage, as well as creating durable coins to last for a long period of time.

However this caused big mistrust in the public in particular China and Korea where gold, silver and copper coins were the standard (for a short period of time).


In Korea when nickel copper coins were first introduced in 1894 (yes, I know there are coins dated 1892), this caused an anxiety within the public as they did not know if the value would collapse. Bear in mind during the mid 1800s, Korea was facing a huge devaluation of her currency as the government melted down old currency and made coin alloys with cheaper metals, causing chaos within the public. (this to be covered one day in my website)


This is the coin in discussion:




When the Japanese mint, Osaka overtook the operations from Korea, a discree was made to remove old coins from circulation. This caused a huge panic within the public. They changed as much as they could and this was mainly 1/4 yang, 5 fun and 1 fun. Nickel copper coins were officially declared as non legal tender in 1906.


The next generation of nickel copper coin was struck in Osaka Mint in 1905.




However in November 1908, circulation of nickel copper coins were prohibited. As of why, I suspect the value of nickel copper was essentially worthless scrap metal wise. This is interesting as Osaka mint has supposedly struck 4 million coins in 1909 according to the Japanese mint record. Korean catalog decides to not include this mintage figure. This is a really rare coin if you can find one. The final straw of these coins came in May 1909 where the government decided that such coins are not to be used for payment for taxes and public imposts by December 1909.


Now this is the challenge. There are no mintage figures for coins struck for 1892 to 1901. Mintage for 5 chon coins are as follows:


1905: 20 million

1907: 16 million

1909: 4 million (mostly melted down)


According to the references that I have, I am not aware of mintage figures of nickel copper coins from 1892 to 1901. 1899, 1900, 1901 nickel copper coins are extremely rare and expensive - this could be one of the world's most expensive nickel copper coins that ever circulated as I suspect many would have been melted down.


Now, guess how many of such beautiful coins were melted down "officially". The figure may surprise you.








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This is the number: 266,480,000


266.5 MILLION. I personally think this number is staggering unless you beg to differ.


Perhaps that's an error. Seems like a rather large number given the mintage figures for that timeframe.

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