Early Chinese Hollow Handle Spade Money
(500 BC - 350 BC)
The hollow handled spade of the State of Zhou was one of
the first use of real coins issued in China. This form of money is
usually dated to about 700 BC to about 500 BC, but there are some
arguments that might place them earlier. Around the 6th and 7th century
BC, Zhou was the
most powerful of several states and formed a central government
that exercised some control on the other states during the Spring
and Autumn period. These states eventually became the Seven Warring
States who fought each other during the Warring States period.
This early space money is amazingly thin usually measuring
only about 1 or 2 mm in thickness, yet they are surprisingly strong and
most survive intact and unbroken. This spade is marked with the
character Gong on one side.
Some examples http://www.calgarycoin.com/reference/china/china1.htm.