|Obverse of an 1892 piece|
|Measurements and composition|
Two dragons, dragon orb, state title, value, year
|v · d · e|
The 1 yang coin is a circulation piece that was issued in two types by the Kingdom of Joseon from 1892 to 1893, during the reign of King Gojong (1852–1919). It was then produced again in two additional types in 1898 by the Korean Empire of Gojong, who stylized himself as Emperor Gwangmu until his abdication in 1907. All pieces were produced at a mint in Incheon, located in what is now South Korea. The coins had a legal tender face value equivalent to 1.00 yang, and temporarily 5.00 won after the replacement of the yang, prior to eventual demonetization.
1885 pattern coinEdit
As early as 1885, during the rule of King Gojong, plans for the development of a decimalized yang currency to replace the fractional mun were already underway. Minted at a facility in Incheon that year were two patterns: a 5 mun and a 1 yang piece. The yang coin is composed of some form of white metal and is round in shape.
Featured inside of a circular beaded border in the center of the obverse are two dragons, legendary creatures in Korean mythology and folklore, with the rightmost holding a dragon orb in its hand. Arched counterclockwise around the top of the piece is the right-to-left Korean Hanja text "年酉乙" (Romanized: Eul-yu nyeon), which essentially signifies production during the Year of the Second Sign of the Rooster, the twenty-second part of the Chinese sexagenary cycle. Such a year, which occurs once every sixty years, happened in 1885. Written counterclockwise at the left side of the coin is the Hanja state title of Joseon, "鮮朝大" (Dae Joseon; "Great Korea"), and inscribed in the same direction at the right rim of the obverse is the value, written in Hangul characters as "냥일" (il nyang; "one yang"). The value is displayed again at the bottom of the piece in Latin script as "1 YANG". All four of the aforementioned texts are separated from each other by four relatively large points. Engraved vertically in the center of the reverse is the Hanja value "一兩" (il nyang), enclosed within a circular border. The taijitu shown on the flag of Joseon's king is featured at the top of the coin, whereas the remainder of the coin's rim is occupied by a wreath consisting of two branches tied together with a ribbon. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised and decorated with a dotted boundary.
The mintage of the 1885 yang pattern is currently unknown, but examples are considered extremely rare. An uncirculated specimen was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2000 for US$16,000, and was noted as the first example its cataloger had seen.
Circulation coins (1892–1898)Edit
The yang was officially introduced in the Kingdom of Joseon in 1892, under Gojong, and with the new currency system came the release of the first circulation 1 yang coins. Such pieces, struck at Incheon, were manufactured in 1892 and 1893, during Korea's time as a kingdom, and then again in 1898, after the Korean Empire was established and Gojong took the name of Emperor Gwangmu. Examples from each date are uniform in composition and measurements, being made of .800 fine silver and having a mass of 5.2 grams, a diameter of 22.5 millimeters, and a thickness of 1.5 millimeters. Also, all pieces have coin alignment and are round in shape.
Similar to the 1885 pattern, displayed in the center of the circulation obverse is an illustration of two dragons, the one at the right carrying a dragon orb. The dragons, however, are more stylized than on the 1885 piece, and the orb held by the creature at the right is more defined. Surrounding the image of the two dragons is a circular beaded border. Pieces produced in 1892 and 1893 bear the Hanja character "年" (nyeon; "year"), followed by a right-to-left number [一百五 (501; obaeg-ni) or 二百五 (502; obeag-i)], and then by the right-to-left "國開" (gaegueg; "founding"), all written in a counterclockwise direction. Together, these characters form a date that is derived from the founding date of the Kingdom of Joseon: July 1392. For example, a coin dated "年一百五國開" (gaegueg obaeg-ni nyeon) would signify production in the 501st year of Joseon, which would correspond to the Gregorian date 1892. However, 1898 pieces bear the date "年二武光" (Gwangmu i nyeon), identifying minting in the second year of the Gwangmu era, which began when King Gojong was declared Emperor Gwangmu of Korea in 1897. Coins of 1892 bear the counterclockwise, right-to-left text "鮮朝大" (Dae Joseon) at the left rim of the coin, whereas 1893 examples simply read "鮮朝" (Joseon), meaning "Korea", and 1898 specimens read "韓大" (Daehan), having the same translation. The Hangul value "량한" (han lyang) is present at the right periphery of the obverse, and its Western equivalent, "1 YANG", is inscribed along the coin's bottom boundary. As on the 1885 pattern, the four inscriptions are separated from each other by four points, which are slightly smaller on the circulation pieces. The Hanja value "一兩" (il nyang) is written vertically in the center of the reverse. Displayed at the top of the coin is the imperial seal of Korea – which simply consists of a stylized plum (Prunus subg. Prunus) flower. The remainder of the reverse's periphery is occupied by a wreath comprising of two branches tied together with a ribbon. Both of the coin's rims are raised and decorated with a border consisting of several small rectangles.
The total mintage of each of the four types of circulation 1 yang coin is currently unknown. Business strikes and proofs were made for 1892, in addition to a rare bronze pattern bearing the same designs. Only circulation pieces were made in 1893 and 1898, but 1898 examples are known in two types: one with a widely-spaced "兩" (nyang) character on the reverse and the other with a more closely-spaced character.
|Korean date||Gregorian date||Notes|
|一百五 (501)||1892||Proofs exist for this date|
|二 (2)||1898||Two types exist|
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation website
- Numista (English) (French)
- acsearch.info – Piedmont Collection, Korea, Pattern, Yi Hyong white metal pattern 1 yang CD 1885 listing