Thuan D. Luc


related article:



Dai nam Hoa Te Do Luc, Albert Schroeder, Paris 1905.

Histoire monétaire des Colonies Francaise, E.Zay, Paris 1892.

Monnaies Francaises, Colonies 1670-1942, V.G, numismate, Versailles 1942.

Quan dan Viet Nam chong Tay xam, Quan Xu 3, Bo Tong Tham Muu Quan Luc VNCH.

Viet Su: Xu dang trong, Phan Khoang.

Tu lieu 'Tien Te Viet Nam, tap Tien Dong Duong', Luc Duc Thuan (chua xuat ban).

Tu lieu 'Tien Te Viet Nam, tap Tien co trieu Nguyen', Luc Duc Thuan (chua xuat ban).

Standard catalog of World coin, 19th century edition, Krause publications.




Since 17th century, Europeans have reached seacoasts of Asian countries for trading services. Faifo (in Quang nam Province), Ke Cho (Hanoi), Macao, Malacca had been busy trading centers in Asia under the dynasties of Trinh and Nguyen. Coins, bars of silver, bars of gold had been utilized as means of commerce, but they also caused many incoveniences for Europeans, especially after the Chinese Thanh Emperors ordered ban of silver and gold export. The need of money for exchange in business between European and Asian countries became desperate. Thus, the Mexican "8 Reales" silver coins became commonly used.


left: Tien SONG CHUC
right: Tien QUY DAU

In 18th century, two types of Mexican 8 Reales coins were utilized for commerce in most of countries along the coast from India to Japan, including Viet Nam. The first type has a picture of two terrestrial globes with royal crowns in the middle of two pillars, was commonly called "Pillar dollar" by numismatists. These coins were produced in the reign of Philip V (1683-1746), Ferdinand VI (1746-1759), and Charles III (1759-1788). Vietnamese history reported that in the reign of Chua Thuong, the Netherlands made a formal charge against local Vietnamese authorities for confiscated 25,580 Mexican 8 Reales coins when their ship was sunk and rescued in Viet Nam territorial waters. Section 27 of the Quy Mui Agreement under the reign of Hiep Hoa also mentioned of the official circulation of Mexican 8 Reales in Viet Nam.


front & back: Tien MA KIEM

front (1.5 actual size): Tien GENHO TSUHO


In 19th century, the intercontinental communication became important to the economic development of all nations. A great number of government allowed to produce the silver trade dollars for convenience of commerce. In Viet Nam, trade dollars of foreign countries were also widely utilized together with the Mexican 8 Reales coins, piastre of Indochina, and silver bars of Nguyen Dynasty.

left: Bac CON CO with HOA XOE in back
right: Bac CAN CAN


The Mexican 8 Reales coin weights 27.07 gram of pure silver.903 fine, with picture of an eagle on the front, and the Libertad hat surrounded by sunlights on the back. The local people gave it a nasty name as "bac hoa xoe" (coin with picture of a fully opened flower) or "bac con co" (coin with picture of a stork). A Vietnamese folk song also expressed that these coins got deep impression in the life of people.
The Mexican 1 peso coin was a reproduction of the 8 Reales coin after 1900 by the decimal system.

The Mexican 1 peso coin was in the same weight as the 8 Reales coin. It has a picture of a scale on the front and the picture of an eagle on the back. Its common name was "scale silver coin".

left: Bac CON GAI
right: Dong YEN
below: Dong ngoai thuong cua England

The US 1 dollar coin weights 27.22 gram with pure silver .900 fine. On front is a picture of a girl holding an olive branch surrounded by 13 stars symbolized 13 original states. On back is a picture of an eagle and the word TRADE DOLLAR. Its popular name was "girl silver coin". In Dai Nam Hoa Te Do Luc (Annam, Etude numismatique = Numismatics of Viet Nam), Albert Schroeder mentioned on "draped bust", Gobrecht (?), and "seated Liberty" 1 dollar coins, but he did not say whether or not these coins were utilized in Viet Nam. A Indochina document mentioned of "girl silver coins".
The HK 1 dollar coin weights 26.9568 gram with pure silver .900 fine, with picture of Queen Victoria on the front, and a big Chinese THO (meaning Longevity) with the word ONE DOLLAR encircled Chinese HUONG CANG NHAT VIEN (Hong Kong, One Dollar).

The Japanese 1 yen coin weights 27.220 gram and of pure silver .7876, with picture of a dragon and the word TRADE DOLLAR on the front, and Chinese MAU DICH NGAN (Trade Silver) or NHAT VIEN (One Dollar) on the other side.
The English 1 dollar coin weights 96.9568 gram with pure silver of .9000 fine. On front is a picture of maritime goddess Britannia holding a spear and design motifs on the back.

There were also the French 5 franc coins with picture of Napoleon III, and the Cambodian 1 piastre/ 1 peso coins with picture of Norodom I circulated in Viet Nam.
During this time, due to the shortage of small change, the people usually cut the coins into two, four, or eight parts. The word "giac" (meaning angle; a common Hue term) used to indicate one "cac" (ten cent piece). The trade dollars were also categorized in "clean dollar" and "chop dollar" to differentiate verified and non-verified coins. Once verified, the merchants usually imprint a tiny personal mark such as "thap" (cross), "thien", or a circle for future identification. At times, people preferred "chop dollar" over "clean dollar". In the beginning of 20th century, when the Bank of Indochina came to existence, the trade dollars of other nations and the pieces of "sou" (bronze coin) of Nguyen Dynasty were gradually replaced by the CENT coin, and PIASTRE paper notes.

Thuan D. Luc