"Yi Dao Ping Wu Qian" Knife-shaped Coin

Western Han Dynasty
Length: 7.6cm

Wang Mang, a high official of the Western Han Dynasty, usurped the throne in 8 A.D. and controlled state power for 16 years. During his reign, he reformed currency system four times and caused a great chaos. The coins cast in this period were mostly under par value but with excellent craftsmanship and fine calligraphy. This knife-shaped coin consists of two parts: the upper is a ring with a rectangular hole at its center and inlaid with two gold characters "Yi Dao" (literally, a knife); the lower is a knife-shaped handle inlaid with "Ping Wu Qian" (literally, equaling 5,000 bronze coins). This type of knife-shaped coins embellished with gold characters is called "Jin Cuo Dao" and highly valued by collectors of later generations.