Click on the thumbnail to see an enlarged scan. The thumbnail is usually NOT made from the actual coin being sold. Most full-sized scans are designed to fill 10-12+" of screen at full resolution, so you can enlarge for detail or reduce with your browser. This is the actual coin offered unless text or photo says SAMPLES. If you get an ERROR PAGE I have made a coding mistake, the coin is not sold. Please report any missing scans.
SAMPLES are shown for inexpensive coins where we have many specimens. We show the worst coins in the grade range offered. You will receive one of the coins shown, or a better one. If you ask for a particular coin shown, you are asking me to send you one of the worst in stock. But if there is some feature that you do, or do not, want please let me know and I will try to accommodate this. Grades depend on wear and quality of strike; nicks and bagmarks will "demote" a coin into a lower range. Some collectors prefer a more worn or weakly struck coin over a sharper coin with nicks or light scratches, others just the opposite.
COLOR & CONTRAST: Scanners let in too much light when used on thick objects such as coins. I must enhance the brightness, then enhance contrast to compensate for the washed-out look. This means that slight differences in color are magnified: dirt spots stand out. Green in the surface dirt appears to be corrosion. Slightly redder areas due to imperfectly alloyed copper, barely noticeable by the eye, can appear as vast areas of blood-red. Brassy coins appear too yellow. Harshly cleaned, over-bright coins look wonderfully clear. Weakly struck coins appear even weaker in enlarged scans than to the eye. My scans are 500-1000%, larger than most seen in auctions and ebay. Black and green spots can be removed by soaking in olive oil.
FRONT / BACK ALIGNMENT Tibetan mints were often very careless in aligning front and back dies. I am unable to show the true alignment in photos; some are shown top / top regardless of coin alignment, others are random. If this matters to you, please ask.
MAIN REFERENCE NUMBERS
My stock numbers (C and Y#s) come from the old Whitman world coin guides by Yeoman and Craig which are carried forward in the SCWC (KM / Krause) catalogs, although I modify the base numbers differently. The only reasonably comprehensive, organized reference on Tibet is YZM = Zhong guo xi zang qian bi tu lu (Illustrated Catalog of the Money of China's Tibet) by Yin Zheng Min. There are no useful works in English. A collaborative work by Rhodes, Gabrisch, and Bertsch will hopefully one day be completed by the latter, surviving author. See my BOOKS page for more on these and other works.
SECONDARY REFERENCES are important for their photos of exact varieties, or analyses of particular types or categories; they appear after the coin description in the listings, and refer to the exact variety. For a comprehensive bibliography on Tibetan numismatics see B below. For a Bibliography of Bertsch (and others') articles on Tibet numismatics, and how to get copies, request exactly this, to be supplied as a MSWord document by email: INFO: TT: BertschArticlesBiblio.docx.
B = Bertsch, W., The Currency of Tibet, 2002, New Delhi. B&W plates illustrating basic types, plus a comprehensive numismatic bibliography.
BA = Baldwin's Auctions (not Baldwin-Ma) Sale / #Lot
BE = Bertsch, W., "Some Early Tibetan Tangkas," J. ONS #198, 2009, pp. 43-45
BF = Bertsch, W., Tibetan Fake Coins and Fantasy Countermarks, 2003, Self-published, plus supplements (#130+) in MSWord document; includes many interesting genuine examples enlarged for comparison.
BK = "The Kong-Par Tangkas of Tibet," J. ONS. #195, 2008, p. 35-46
BM = Bertsch, W. "Tibetan Army Badges", Tibet Journal V. XXV!, #1, Spring, 2001, pp. 35-72
BP = Bertsch, W, "The 20th Century Pattern Coinage of Tibet," in NI Bulletin, v.32, #1, 1/97, pp. 7-18
BQ = Bertsch, W., "Tibetan Pattern Coins Struck From British Dies", in ONS Newsletter #209, Autumn, 2011, pp. 28-32
BR = Bertsch, W.,"The Tibetan Tangka with Ranjana Script," ONS Newsletter #185, Autumn, 2005, pp. 18-31
BS = Bertsch, W., "Varieties of Tibet's Srang Issues," NI Bulletin v. 20, #1, 1/86, pp. 7-12
BT = Bertsch, W., "The Tibetan 3 Sho Copper Coin" N.I. Bulletin, V.23, #9, 9/97, pp. 225-230
BY = Bertsch, W., "A New Chinese Catalogue of Tibetan Coins by Yin Zheng Min", J. ONS <#188, 2006, pp. 27-32. Thirty six coins not in YZM are discussed (Note: "No.23" = #24, "No.24" = #25). Nos. 8-16, Tangka & fractional patterns in the Palace Museum, Beijing, are discussed in more depth in J. ONS #188, 2011, pp. 34-37.
C = Craig, William D., Coins of the World 1750-1850 Companion to the Yeoman work, covers earlier issues with numbering carried over to KM.
CG = China Guardian Auctions, Yr / Mo / #Lot (only a few sales checked)
Ch = ChampionAuctions (Michael Chou), Sale/ #Lot (not all sales checked)
DW = Dong Wenchao, Ed., An Overview of China's Gold & Silver Coins of Past Ages, 1993, Hong Kong.
Eb = eBay, Lot #
Eu = Eurseree Auctions, Bangkok, Thailand, Sale / #Lot (not all sales checked)
G = Gabrisch, K. Geld Aus Tibet, 1990, Winterthur, Switzerland
GB = Garbrisch, K & Bertsch, W. "Chopmarks on Sichuan rupees and Coins From Tibet," NI Bulletin, V.26 #3, 3/91, pp. 57-65.
GC = Gabrisch collection, as presented in Baldwin-Ma-Gillio-Monetarium Sale 40, 9/1/05, Lot#
GF = Gabrisch, K., "The First Coins Struck in Tibet" NI Bulletin V. 34, #3, 1999, pp. 56-63
GR = Gabrisch, K., "Die Sichuan Rupie und ihre Varanten", Münstersche Numismatische Zeitung, 1982 #4, pp. 44-48
G&R = Gabrisch, K. & Rhodes, N., Num. Circ. Vol. XCVII, 1, 1989, pp. 260-63.
HA = Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Sale#Lot
HC = Halpert Collection sale, Spink New York, 12/12/2000, lots 1-315
ßJ = Jang Huey Shin, 1994 ed, has extensive Tibet listings with variety illustrations, all rubbings; Szec huan Rupees (p.160) as JS, other Tibetan (p. 327) as JT
JL = Jia Lin, Collection of Tibetan Bullion Customs and Tibetan Coins, 2002, China PRC
JQ = Bertsch, W., Gabrisch, K., & Rhodes, N. "A Study of Sino-Tibetan Coins of the Jia Qing Era", Journal of East Asian Numismatics, #7 = V. 2 #4 = Summer, 1995, pp. 23-34
K = Kann, E. "Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins", 1953/4 Hong Kong, 1966 New York
KM = "Krause & Mishler" Standard Catalog of World Coins: 20th C. 38th Ed., 19th C. 6th Ed., 18th C. 4th Ed., 17th C. 4th Ed. This work adapts the earlier C (Craig, W.D., Coins of the World 1750-1850 and Y (Yeoman, R.S., A Catalog of Modern World Coins) numbers by adding letters and decimal numerals for missing or sub-types. The TT numbers are my own, often differing, adaptations. To reference a photo in KM, regardless of its description, I have cited the edition, as "KM38Y#28a" = photo of Y#28a in the 36th edition of KM 20th Century volume.
LM = Lin G. M. & Ma Tak Wo, Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Gold & Silver Coins, 6th Ed., Hong Kong, 2008
LY = Y.K. Leung's website with several pages on Tibetan coins.
N = Tibet Numismatic Society (Zhu Jinzhong et. al.), Zhong Guo Xi Zang Qian Bi, Beijing, 2002. Omitting "1-" before number.
NM = numista.com (Not fully checked)
P = Stacks/Bowers/Ponterio Sale / #Lot (only a few sales checked)
R = Rhodes, N., Gabrisch, K & Valdettaro, C. The Coinage of Nepal, London, 1989
RF = Tibetan Forgeries Made in Calcutta Numismatic Chronicle 1992, p. 89-96
RL = Rhodes & Lissanevitch, "The First Gold Coins of Tibet," J. ONS #202, 2010, p.44-45.
RM = Rhodes, N., Tibetan Mints, (ONS Information Sheet No. 19, 8/78)
SE = "Shanghai Encyclopedia", Ma Fei Hai (ed.), Zhong guo li dai huo bi da xi, V. 8, 1998, pp. 370-384, 526-529
SG = Superior Galleries Auction: "Irving Goodman Collection of Chinese Coinage," 6/3-4/91, which includes many Kann specimens.
ST = "Spink-Taisei" (now Baldwin-Ma) Auction sale number / #Lot; Sale Dates. ST40 includes the Karl Gabrisch collection and is separately designated as GC
T = Tibetancoins.com website, by Adam Green who at one time posted historical and die-level variety information based on the research of G.R. Richardson. Only a few types are covered as yet, but these can be downloaded as .pdf files. A few additional pieces appear in the Photo Gallery.
TNS = Tibet Autonomous Region Num. Soc. (Xi Zang Zi Zhi Ou Qian BiXue Hui), Zhu Jin Zhong, Ed. Zhong Guo Xi Zang Qian Bi (Currency of Tibet, China; Chinese Tibet's Money), 2002
X = Xiao Huaiyuan, Hsi-tsang ti fanghuo pi shih (The Coinage of the Local Tibetan Government), Beijing, 1987. Only the more interesting listings are referenced in the checklist.
Y = Yeoman, R.S., Modern World Coins, 14th (2008) ed. This classic work provides the basic structure of my own and KM's listings, from a time when the ordering and complexity of the series was poorly understood.
YZM = Yin Zheng-min (Weng cheng-min), Zhong guo xi zang qian bi tu lu (Illustrated Catalog of the Money of China's Tibet), Lhasa, 2004, ISBN7-223-01686-8. This is the most comprehensive work on Tibetan coins. Detailed critical reviews with new information about the coins: Bertsch, W. J. ONS #188, 2006, pp. 27-32, Rhodes, N. J. ONS #183, 2005, pp. 2-3.
Z = Zeno.ru website.
VARIETIES & DESCRIPTIVE CONVENTIONS
The chaotic political situation, the Lamas' reluctance to coin money, multiple mints and branches, and the primitive minting conditions themselves contribute to a wealth of types and varieties in the Tibetan series. The limited skills of the engravers also resulted in subvarieties and discernible die varieties as worn dies were reengraved. I have modified the Craig/Yeoman numbers differently than Krause (Standard Catalog of World Coins) to separate what I consider intentional or obvious "type" differences from lesser variations which are noted as date varieties, with finer attention to rare types. No doubt there are many more date varieties for common types than I have listed. Yin Zheng Min's work (YZM) discusses and illustrates the finest breakdowns yet published for most types, to the level of die varieties for some rarer pieces. G.R. Richardson's extensive die study remains unpublished. The SCWC lists some overdates, which are more numerous than noted and easily confused with numeral variants, which occur most often with 1, 4, and 9. Overdates are generally worth no great premium.
Design elements are described from the center outward; s. = "surrounded by." The side with portrait, Emperor's name, Lion, or the standard eight-word LEGEND is generally taken as O = Obverse. Beginning (at 12:00) with the three-letter word dga, which I symbolize as T92 it reads dga ldan pho brang pyud rnam rgyal, loosely meaning "government of Tibet." Its position is noted relative to elements of the Lion such as the mane hair or the sun (open or closed circle surrounded by clouds). The angle of the head was used to distinguish Dode from Meki products 1913-18 (Y16-21). However, the actual angle of "gaze" can range from 90° (up) to 0° (back) and even downward, making some specimens difficult to attribute by this factor alone. When angles are expressed in degrees, these are approximate only.
On Lion types, orientations are based on the flat of the back set at 3:00 - 9:00, not on "T92."
The 8 Buddhist astamangala SYMBOLS, usually inside petal-like fleurettes, is a common R = Reverse element, except for the Gaden Tangka (Y13) where this side is generally treated as the obverse. They are referenced by their compass position, N (Umbrella), NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. The Fishes (usually NE), and Wheel (usually NW) tend to be sources of variation. I may refer loosely to "head" or "arms" of symbols such as Umbrella (N), Pot (E), Conch (S), or Banner (W). cw = clockwise & ccw = counter-clockwise for swimming fish.
Other design elements include, rosettes and as a central element on 1901-27 coinage, a stylized Lotus called Norbu. What I take to be Clouds are curved "c" plus on Lion types, or bracket-like "E-q-3" arabesques as separators on 1918-1940s types. Unless noted, silver coins are reeded, but tangkas and coppers are not. I have usually identified the common or commonest variety(s) for collectors who simply want the best grade coin for a major type.
Compare my assigned grade to the photo to understand my standards. I believe I am usually more conservative than NGC or PCGS, but do not guarantee any particular grade from third party graders. Minor defects are incorporated into the basic grade, but mentioned defects - such as scratch, weak strike, or cleaned, do not affect the basic grade assigned. My grading standards for all world coins.
CLEANED OR HAIRLINED COINS: Many circulated modern coins found in collections have been cleaned at some time, or AU-UC dip-cleaned. We have noted "cleaned" or "hairlines" for coins where either abrasive or chemical cleaning creates an unpleasant or artificial appearance. Where cleaning is detectable, suspected, or minor without negative effect, we do not make note. A glossy appearance in a photo (coppers) may be due to soaking in olive oil to remove surface dirt, a widely-accepted practice. Hairline scratches ("scs") on silver due to cleaning may not show up in photos, but will be noted. In my opinion, slabbed coins noting cleaning not visible with a glass often sell too cheaply in auctions, while coins receiving a high number grade but sealed in plastic with soils, tar, or unattractive toning are unaesthetic and may not hold their value. If you do not want cleaned coins and are ordering from a SAMPLES offering, mention this and I will exclude specimens which I can tell have been cleaned, even though these are likely in better grade than samples shown.
P, D = In 2011 I combined two good American collections of Tibet coins and banknotes, formerly owned by Dr. Eck Prud'homme, and Gary Damkoehler. The combined "best of each" specimens were catalogued rather indifferently and sold in the Heritage December 11-12, 2015 sale (#3043) where the many high-grade pieces brought record prices. Duplicates from both have appeared in several auctions, and the rest are offered here.
Photos do not always show the whole truth of a coin - you must see it to know if you love it! Please feel free to return any item you buy from me. I hope you will tell me the problem, so I can consider changing the photo or description, or paying your return postage if I have made a mistake. If you need more than one week after receiving to study or get opinions from others, please let me know and it will be OK, but please do not delay return to submit to a grading service in hopes of a lucky outcome - this is not fair to me, nor to other buyers who will miss the item.
More than 99% of the coins offered here was outside of China before the mid-late 1980s when the most dangerous factory forgeries began to emerge. PLEASE tell me if you doubt any coin shown at my site, and I will withdraw it for sale pending further research. There is no time limit for return of any provably counterfeit coin purchased from me. See full Authenticity Guarantee. I can accept that NGC and PCGS are skilled at detecting counterfeit modern Chinese & Tibetan coins, but not so good at identifying varieties or special (pattern) issues. For purposes of return guarantee, I accept definitive opinions of NGC, PCGS, and some private experts, even if I disagree. As a collector, I prefer "raw" coins for proper examination and appreciation, even if a lucky grade will add value when selling.
Contemporary (circulating) forgeries are a part of monetary history and quite collectable. I do not stamp them COPY but identify as circulating forgeries when offering. Collector-oriented forgeries are useful in a collection for comparison purposes; when I sell these, I die-stamp them COPY and add "X" to their Y# in the listing. Wolfgang Bertsch's Ebay Guide to fake Tibet coins is a small start on the many that exist.