Asia and the China Trade Currency

Spanish trade routes to the orient were the initial driving force of the early explorers. Spices - Silks and other mystical Eastern potions were eagerly sought after by colonial Europeans.

After being validated for purity and content of the silver many were marked with chopmark notations.

Silver in ancient China was very rare and precious due to the lack of rich domestic mines. Silver deposits usually were found in the same ore bodies as minerals such as quartz, lead, and antimony, and the technology for refining and purifying silver was not mastered until the Tang Dynasty, a much later date than that for copper.

Spanish colonial cobs were imported and circulated in China from  the latter part of the 16th century, and their introduction  paved the way for other foreign milled silver coins to enter circulation during the next four hundred years. Given the great variety of cob specimens, the only way to determine which types were used in China is to look for examples which bear Chinese chopmarks.

Spanish colonial cobs were called "Cross Money" by the Chinese, and they were one of the earliest types of foreign silver coins used in the Chinese coastal areas, such as Kuangtung, Fujien, Chekiang and Taiwan by the Spaniards, Portuguese and Dutch for their trading with  native people. These irregularly-shaped foreign silver pieces were adopted by the Chinese as a kind of "quasi-sycee" which were evaluated by their weight and silver content. They circulated in their original form, often with chopmarks,  or in the form of Chinese sycee after they were consigned to the furnace and recast.

The process of chopping cobs during the the initial stages of Chinese contact with foreign silver demonstrates how merchants adopted and authenticated foreign trade silver and transformed them into native coinage--a chopmarked cob was no longer a cob, it was more like a sycee.


Mexico 4 Reales circa 1650 showing assorted chops and cut tests

weight 13.1 grams

#ascb5a ...... $259.00

email to order :


Mexico 4 Reales - Dated 1652 - oM/P - chopmarks and test cuts

weight    12.8   grams

#as4ra ..... $300.00

email to order :



Mexico 8 Reales - Dated 1640 - oM/(P) - halved (for exchange) with test cuts 

weight   14  grams


email to order :


Wonderful China Trade 8 Reales from Mexico ca. 1650 oM/P. 

with test cuts and a tiny chop mark from Trade with Asia.

Mounted in 14kt Gold Bezel with a Sterling Tarpon


email to order :


China Trade 8 reales from Mexico - ca. 1650

tiny chop mark (circle/cross)

weight 21.2 grams

#8r001a ........$295.00

email to order :


China Trade 8 reales from Mexico oM/P - circa. 1655

the 8 comprised of two 0's

with test cuts and chopmarks from Trade with Asia.

weight 24.3 grams

#cc8r1650a ........$390.00

email to order :


Colonial Lead Seals

Authentic Coin Jewelry

8 Reales

Sao Jose Shipwreck

Ring   China Trade Currency

unmounted  1 Reales

2 Reales in 14kt Gold

Santiago 1585

1715 Fleet Study Collection

El Cazador Caribbean  Florida 1700's maps

Colonial & Shipwreck Gold

Dry Tortugas Shipwreck

Art McKee

Royal Cob Research

Bob Allison Treasure Museum SS Central America

HTML hit counter -