An article by peter Anthony on the NGC web site describes the numismatic museums of Beijing. -Editor
Beijing has two purely numismatic museums. The venues and their prestigious sponsors reflect the great significance attached to coins in Chinese culture.
Silhouetted against the sky, one building stands out as our taxi slows to exit the freeway. I nod toward it and ask, “Is that where we are going?” “Yes,” my friend replies. The car turns, rolls
across an overpass as ten lanes of Beijing vehicles rush by below, and drops us off along the edge of a busy traffic circle. On foot now, we gingerly thread our way toward the massive structure.
A high stone wall crowds the curb and leaves us little room to avoid the cars that zip by. Its sheer face of carefully fitted charcoal-gray blocks calls to mind Mordor. We make haste to the safety
of a broad landing area. There a sign announces, “Panoramic View of Beijing Ancient Coins.” From here it is just a few more paces to the entrance. Inside, shielded from traffic noise, is a peaceful
courtyard lined with Magnolia trees.
We are at the Deshengmen Gate. Once it was one of nine fortified entrances to the old city of Beijing. The nine gates were manned by crack troops, the toughest and best-trained in the emperor’s
military. The gates controlled entry and egress to the capital city and were repeatedly the sites of pitched battles between Chinese defenders and Mongol bands from the north. Many gates are now
completely gone, remembered only in the names of subway stations like Xuanwumen (pronounced Shwen-wu-men) and Fuchengmen.
Fittingly, there is a fascinating military museum on an upper floor of the Deshengmen Gate fortress. On a clear day, a climb to the topmost parapet rewards a visitor with an outstanding view of
the city, as well as an appreciation for what a formidable post this was. A couple of antique cannons reinforce the impression. At ground level, though, the former garrison is now dedicated to coins,
As the sign suggests most of the coins are ancient. Although, my interest is primarily modern Chinese coinage, the exhibits are excellently explained in English. They do a fine job of presenting
the development of money in China and why numismatics is important to Chinese culture today. There is a good display of modern paper money, although the best collection in the world can be seen
across town at the China Numismatic Museum.
Beijing has two purely numismatic museums. The Beijing Ancient Coins Museum at Deshengmen Gate is part of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage. Across town the China
Numismatic Museum operates under the auspices of The People’s Bank of China, the nation’s central bank. Additionally, the National Museum has a major permanent numismatic display and coins are often
seen at other institutions like the Capital Museum.
To read the complete article, see:
Chinese Coins: Coins and Cannons (www.ngccoin.com/news/article/5827/Chinese-Lunar-coins/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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