Category Archives: Chinese Medals

Update: New Book 《Chinese Medals 1911-1945》 Release Date

The third book of the Chinese Medals Series, 《Chinese Medals 1911-1945》, will be released sometime in the near future. There are 4 main sections in this book:

1. Beiyang Government

2. Nanking Government

3. Soviet Republic of China

4. Manchukuo and other puppet governments

The book includes more than 500 medals and related items. There will be historical description and picture(s) for each item. I hope you will enjoy this book.

Beiyang Government Medals:

Nanking Government Medals:

Soviet Republic of China Medals:

Manchukuo Medals:

Medals of other puppet governments:


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Memorial Medal of T’ienchin Tutung Yamen, in gold.

T’ienchin Tutung Yamen was a temporary local government (engraved in French on the back side of the medal) formally establish on July 30th when the allied forces captured T’ienchin on July 14th, 1900. It was originally referred to as Viceroy’s Yamen and was renamed to T’ienchin Tutung Yamen on August 14th. The organization established a three-person committee appointed by the Allied Force Command, consisting of representatives of Russia, the United Kingdom and Japan. All three representatives were referred to as Tutung. The appointment was followed by an addition of another four representatives from Germany, France, the United States and Italy. The commander of Austria-Hungary also requested to send a representative, however, the request was refused due to Austria-Hungary’s limited military power in China. Consequently, seven of the eight countries of the Eight-Nation Alliance each occupied a position in T’ienchin Tutung Yamen except for Austria-Hungary. T’ienchin Tutung Yamen exercised military control over T’ienchin, Chinghai, Ningho and some other regions with 8 subordinate executive organizations and a patrolling team composed of 900 allied forces gunmen directly under its control. Upon the conclusion of the Boxer Protocol, the Eight-Nation Alliance gradually withdrew from Peking and T’ienchin. In May 1902, Governor Yuan Shih-kai of Chihli held a consultation meeting with all seven foreign Tutung in T’ienchin, discussing the revocation of T’ienchin Tutung Yamen. However, it was not until August 15th, 1902 that the Qing government formally took over T’ienchin. This marked the end of the T’ienchin Tutung Yamen which had ruled T’ienchin for as long as two years.

This medal was designed by J. Chevt and manufactured by the renowned Japanese jeweler TENSHODO, came in both gold and silver. The characters and engravings on the medal reflect truthfully the historical facts of T’ienchin Tutung Yamen. On the back side of the medal are seven national flags representing the seven countries which enjoyed a seat in T’ienchin Tutung Yamen. The time 1900~1902 engraved on the medal corresponds to the duration of the administration. These details demonstrate that the item was custom made by T’ienchin Tutung Yamen and then issued in China on behalf of the organization when the revocation took place in 1902. The gold memorial medal weighing 97g is speculated to be granted to foreign Tutung. As of today, only two of them are observed.


[article source: China Qing Dynasty Medals 中國清代徽章 ISBN: 978-0-9781539-3-9]


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Update: New Book 《Qing Dynasty Medals》 Available Now

My new book 《Qing Dynasty Medals》 is printed, and is now available for purchase.

From my experience, Qing Dynasty medals are very difficult to collect. Firstly, there are numerous types of Qing Dynasty medals, but of each type, only very few were awarded. Secondly, most of the Qing Dynasty medals were made with silver. With silver being the standard of currency, each medal was a monetary fortune. Since the late 1800s, China suffered from many wars and was in a turmoil for decades. Lots of these silver medals were melted into coins to buy food. Thus the Qing Dynasty medals remaining today are very rare.

Although I have devoted my utmost efforts in the search of Qing Dynasty medals over the years, I am only able to contain about 190 Qing Dynasty medals and related items in this book. All medals in the book are arranged into categories such as military, economic, political, etc., and I have described each medal with its relevant historical backgrounds and stories.

The book is exquisitely printed and bound in hard cover.

I hope you will enjoy it. Thank you.

This new book features:

1) High quality pictures of more than 190 Qing Dynasty Medals and related items;

2) History and related antique photograph of each medal;

3) Content written in Chinese and English;

4) Hard cover upholstered in silk;

5) 138 pages.

The price of the book is US$500 + US$80 international shipping and handling.

We accept PayPal and money order.

To purchase, please contact us by email at

Once payment is confirmed, the book will ship out on the next business day.

CHINA QING DYNASTY MEDALS 中國清代徽章 ISBN: 978-0-9781539-3-9








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The First Ever Chinese Medal

The “Warrior Merit Medal”, issued by China in 1860 (in gold, handmade, also available in silver). This handmade gold medal for meritorious deeds and achievements was manufactured in 1860. As of today, it is the first documented medal manufactured and issued by China.

In the beginning of 1860, Taip’ing Rebels waged the War of Hangchow and swept across Kiangsoo and Chekiang provinces with crushing force. After Lord Chung—Li Hsiu-ch’eng of Taip’ing Rebels totally routed the barracks in South of Yangtze River, Taip’ing Rebels’ eastern conquest embarked on Shanghai. In an effort to hold Shanghai, a local officer named Wu-hsi, along with others, organized the Frederick Townsend Ward Foreign Army Corps. The Corps employed about 200 Euro-American and Southeast Asian mercenaries on June 2nd, 1860. In the middle of July, this army launched a successful surprise attack on Songchiang. Since then, comprador-gentry in Shanghai managed to keep private mercenary troops of their own. Between August 18 and 21, 1860, as Li Hsiu-ch’eng and his 3,000 rebels were marching into Shanghai, 900 British and French soldiers united force with Qing soldiers and fought back. The rebels were forced to retreat. This type of handmade gold medals for meritorious deeds and achievements and other silver ones were speculated to be granted by the local government of Shanghai to foreign soldiers who had rendered outstanding service in the war.

On January 3, 1862, foreign taxpayers in Shanghai Concession organized the so-called “Foreign Army Defense Association”. Ten days later, gentry in Shanghai founded “Shanghai Sino-Foreign Army Defense Bureau”. When Taip’ing Rebels leashed two attacks on Shanghai in 1862, Qing military forces stationed in Shanghai, British and French soldiers, the Frederick Townsend Ward Foreign Army Corps, and the Huai Army rushed to the rescue of Shanghai in April, 1862 under the command of Li Hung-chang. The joint forces routed the attacking Taip’ing Rebels. During this period, the medals for meritorious deeds and achievements awarded to foreign soldiers for their outstanding service were speculated to be the gold or silver ones custom made overseas by machine.

[article source: China Qing Dynasty Medals 中國清代徽章 ISBN: 978-0-9781539-3-9]

Frederick Townsend Ward, commander of the Ever-Victorious Army.

Old city walls of Shanghai during 1860s.

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Boxer Rebelion Medal

Certificate Medal of the Leader of the K’an Trigram (Group) of Righteous Harmony Society, in silver

On the front side of the medal are four Chinese characters “I Ho Shen Ch’uan”, with one of the Eight Trigrams “K’an” engraved in the middle. On the back side is the slogan of the society, “support the Qing, destroy the Foreign”. Based on the organization of Righteous Harmony Society and the material of the medal, the item is the certificate medal of the leader of the K’an Trigram (Group) of Righteous Harmony Society. The medal has never been catalogued in museums including those in China nor private collections, which makes it extremely rare.

The Boxer Movement broke out in China in the late 19th century. Under the slogan of “support the Qing, destroy the Foreign”, it was a mass campaign of violence confronting Chinese Christians and westerners in China including western missionaries. Causes of the movement were manifold. Major reasons included humiliation resulting from imperialist military invasion in the 19th century, conflicts of concepts and beliefs due to differences between Chinese and Western cultures, the one-time inclination of the Qing government to take advantage of mass power to expel foreign influences and the impact of natural and man-made disasters on the livelihood of people in Shantung and Chihli, where people were keen on joining superstitious civil societies.

Righteous Harmony Society evolved from the Righteous Fists of Harmony. It was a popular traditional secretive civil society in Shantung and Chihli (today Hopei). There is no consensus regarding its origin, however there are three common claims:

1.      Righteous Harmony Society evolved from White Lotus Society. Lao Nai-hsuan with his Research on the Origin of Righteous Harmony Society supports this origin.

2.      Big Swords Society was the origin of Righteous Harmony Society. Big Swords Society was mainly composed of poor peasants in North China during the Qing Dynasty. Members of society practiced a martial art called “Golden Shield”   which they believed would defend them from swords and bullets.

3.      Martial arts clubs were the predecessor of Righteous Harmony Society. There were various civil martial art clubs in the Qing Dynasty, such as Righteous Fists of Harmony and Fists of Plum Blossom.

In 1897, villagers of Liyuan Village, Kuan County, Shantung Province clashed with the church over historical land disputes. Martial arts master Chao San-to of Fists of Plum Blossom in Wei County came to help at the request of a villager named Yen Shu-ch’in. Later, Chao San-to renamed Fists of Plum Blossom to Righteous Fists of Harmony. In October of the same year, Chao San-to and some others started an uprising in Chiangchia Village, Kuan County, upholding the slogan of “support the Qing, destroy the Foreign”. In June 1898, Provincial Governor Chang Ju-mei of Shantung Province presented a petition to the Qing Court, stating that Righteous Fists of Harmony was a village group and it was better to “reorganize martial arts clubs into civil corps”. In the meantime, he explicitly stated that Righteous Fists of Harmony was Righteous Harmony Society. This was the first time that a Qing officer used the name Righteous Harmony Society. In 1899, when Chinese Bannerman Yu Hsien, who bought his official post, took office as Provincial Governor of Shantung Province, he suggested that “people should be used, groups be placated, bandits be eliminated”. Thus, Righteous Harmony Society should be placated and reorganized into a civil corp. This was how Righteous Fists of Harmony evolved into Righteous Harmony Society while its slogan changed from “overturn Qing Dynasty and reinstate Ming Dynasty” to “support the Qing, destroy the Foreign”.

According to the introduction given by Ch’en Kuei-tsung in Organizations and Tenets of Righteous Harmony Society, the organization was mainly divided as follows:

1. Altar, the base unit of Righteous Harmony Society, of which First Brother serves as the leader.

2. Head Altar, a unit at the next higher level of Altar.

3. Trigram or Group, a unit at the next higher level of Head Altar. Righteous Harmony Society was divided into eight Trigrams (Groups) according to the Eight Trigrams, such as “Kan Trigram (Group) of Righteous Harmony Society” and “K’an Trigram (Group) of Righteous Harmony Society”.

4. Righteous Harmony Society was a loose organization composed of all Boxers.

It was further divided into an official society, a private society and a fake society. In addition, the society also included female organizations such as “Red Lamp” and “Blue Lamp”.

In January 1900, Empress Dowager Tz’u-hsi issued edicts defending the Boxers despite of complaints from foreign diplomats. On May 27th, three thousand Boxers seized Chochou. On May 28th, having predicted the danger confronting the Legation Quarter, Envoy Plenipotentiary Claude Maxwell MacDonald asked 17 foreign warships anchored in Taku Fort for reinforcement. On May 31st, an allied escort composed of 79 British, 79 Russians, 75 French, 53 Americans, 39 Italians and 24 Japanese arrived in Peking by train for the defence of the Legation Quarter. On June 3rd, 51 German marines and 32 Austria-Hungary soldiers arrived at the Legation Quarter in Peking. On June 10th, Empress Dowager Tz’u-hsi appointed Prince Tuan Tsai I as Minister of Tsungli-Yamen.  It was then that Boxers flooded into Peking. From that day onward, foreign embassies in Peking remained under siege, with external communication cut-off.

On June 11th, an allied contingent of 2,066 officers and soldiers from Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Austria-Hungary under the command of the British Vice-Admiral Edward Seymour was dispatched by train from T’ienchin to Peking to reinforce 11 foreign embassies in Peking. As the railway had been severed by the Boxers, Seymour and his troops could not make further advancement and were stuck somewhere between Yangts’un and Langfang. There the contingent was defeated by Boxers and Qing troops. On June 26th, the reinforcement fled in defeat to Concessions in T’ienchin. This resulted in the failure of the allies’ first attempt to lift the siege on the embassies. However, the confrontation was considered by the Qing government and Boxers as a major victory in resisting foreign invasions and was given the name “Langfang Victory”.

On June 17th, the allied forces captured Taku Fort. On June 20th, when German envoy Klemens Freiherr von Ketteler was on his way to Tsungli-Yamen as a representative to ask for protection, he was ambushed and killed by Qing troops. This was the leading cause of the confrontations that followed. Since the death of Klemens Freiherr von Ketteler, foreign embassies in Peking became targets for attack.

On June 21st, on the order of Empress Dowager Tz’u-hsi, the Qing government declared war against Western powers on behalf of Emperor Kuang-hsu. This finally evolved into an international military conflict. The Eight-Nation Alliance which was composed of about 45,000 soldiers from Japan, the United States, Austria-Hungary, the United Kingdom (whose forces included a Chinese camp called  “Chinese Braves” trained by the United Kingdom in Weihaiwei), France, Germany, Italy and Russia entered into war with Qing troops and Boxers. On July 14th, the allied forces took T’ienchin and established the “T’ienchin Tutung Yamen”, exercising military control over T’ienchin, Chinghai, Ningho and some other regions. In the early morning of August 14th, the allied forces gathered outside of Peking and gradually occupied various city gates after two days of intense fighting. Then street fights engaged between Qing troops and the allied forces inside Peking. In the evening of August 16th, the Eight-Nation Alliance almost had the whole city under control. After the fall of Peking, Empress Dowager Tz’u-hsi and the royal family fled to hsi’an. In the end of the Boxer Movement, the defeated Qing government was forced to sign the Boxer Protocol on September 7th, 1901 and was fined war reparations of 450,000,000 tael of fine silver. This was referred to as the Boxer Indemnity in history.

In American historical documentations, this military removal of the siege on legations was known as the China Relief Expedition. However, China used the name Eight-Nation Alliance Invasion of China.

During and after the Boxer Movement, various medals and memorial medals were manufactured by governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals. Theyse medals were awarded to related persons and to commemorate the event.

[article source: China Qing Dynasty Medals 中國清代徽章 ISBN: 978-0-9781539-3-9]

A Boxer Rebel.

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An Overview of the Chinese Expositions during the Late Qing Dynasty – An Article Celebrating China’s First Ever World Expo in 2010 (2009-08-11)

During the late Qing Dynasty, western countries forced the opening of China to the outside world. Hosting commercial and industrial expositions had become one of the Qing government’s modernization policies.

The first ever such exposition was organized by Zhang Zhidong (Figure 1), who was the governor of Hubei and Hunan provinces. Back in 1898, Zhang established a commerce bureau in Hankou. He displayed locally manufactured goods, along with their origins and prices, and encouraged Chinese and foreign businessmen to participate. In 1904, the Hubei and Hunan provincial bazaar was constructed. There were three departments inside. The first department displayed the manufacturing goods of Hubei. The second department displayed the manufacturing goods and machineries from other provinces and from foreign countries. The third department displayed the local products such as minerals, coal, herbal medicine, leather, etc. These local products were there to facilitate exports to other provinces and foreign countries.

Figure 1: Medal awarded to governor Zhang Zhidong (click on images to enlarge.)

On September 7th 1903, the Qing government established the ministry of commerce.  In 1905, the ministry enacted regulations which encouraged local and foreign businessmen to host expositions. In 1906, Shengjing general Zhao Erxun set up a display of commercial products in the province of Fengtian. Also in 1906, the commerce association in Tianjin founded the bazaar at the Tianhou Palace for the first ever commercial products exposition (Figure 2). In 1906, the commerce association in Guangdong hosted a display of manufacturing goods. The next year it established a bazaar. In 1908, Jiangsu’s industrial bureau hosted a display of commercial goods. In 1909, Jiangnan’s commercial bureau also set up a display of commercial goods. In 1910, Jiangnan’s commercial bureau hosted the Chancellor of Nanyang Products Exposition which displayed products from the southern provinces (Figure 3). In 1909, an exposition was hosted in Shanghai which displayed the products from seven prefectures in the Songjiang district. This should be the first ever exposition in Shanghai (Figure 4).

Figure 2: Medal for the Tianjin exposition in 1906 (Click on images to enlarge.)

Figure 3: Medal for the Chancellor of Nanyang Products Exposition (Click on images to enlarge)

Figure 4: Medal for the Songjiang products exposition hosted in Shanghai (Click on images to enlarge.)

It is worth mentioning that from 1906 to 1911, the province of Sichuan hosted six commercial expositions in Chengdu (Figure 5). The first three focused on manufacturing industry. The last three was broadened to cover the agriculture industry, the manufacturing industry, and the commercial industry. There were eight display categories: 1) machineries, 2) hand made goods, 3) government made goods, 4) educational products, 5) agricultural products, 6) animal related products, 7) plant related products, 8 ) natural products. There were more than a thousand types of products at each of these expositions. In order to encourage participations, awards were given to the participants. Four awards were given at each exposition: 1) the first class medal was the Red Peony Gold Medal. It was presented to participants who displayed machineries that could rival those from the western countries. 2) the second class medal was named the Lotus Silver Medal, which was presented to participants who displayed products that were not available in the Sichuan province; 3) the third class medal was named the Cherry Apple Silver Medal, which was presented to participants who had made improvements to Sichuan products; 4) the fourth class medal was named the Plum Blossom Bronze Medal, which was presented to participants who displayed innovative commodities.

Figure 5: Medal for the Sichuan commercial expositions hosted in Chengdu (Click on images to enlarge.)

In September, 1909, Chen Kuilong succeeded to the position as the governor of Hunan and Hubei provinces, and set up exposition at the warehouses outside Wuchang’s Wenchang Gate and Pinghu Gate (Figure 6). The exposition lasted forty five days. The main display houses were sorted into categories such as natural products, industrial crafts, arts, educational materials, and antiques with a total of six thousand types of displayed items. Furthermore, the exposition also included seven special display houses and sixteen extra special display rooms with more than fourteen hundred items. The special display houses were the Zhili House, Hunan House, Shanghai House, Ningbo House, House of Hanyang Steel Factory, House of Hanyang Military Factory, and House of Hanyang Training Factory. Overall, there were over a thousand participants with more than eight thousand types of displayed items.  In China, this was the first ever large exposition with participants from different regions across the country.

Figure 6: Medal for the exposition hosted in Wuchang in 1909 (Click on images to enlarge.)

The Nanyang Exposition was the largest national commercial exposition during the late Qing period (Figures 7 & 8). Duan Fang, who was the governor of Jiangsu and Jiangxi, requested to host the first ever exposition in Nanking in December, 1908. In May, 1909, Duan Fang moved to the new posts as the governor of Zhili and the chancellor of Peiyang.  Zhang Renjun, who was the governor of Guangdong and Guangxi, assumed Duan’s position. On July 13th, the Qing government approved Duan’s request, and assigned Zhang as the chair of the exposition. Due to the massive scale of the exposition, a new government agency was established to make preparations. The government decided to host the exposition with business and industry. The initial budget was five hundred thousand silver taels, and was shared between the Jiangsu government and Jiangsu’s businesses and industries. The budget was later increased to one million silver taels. Since 1873, the Governor of Jiangsu and Jiangxi also held the position as the chancellor of Nanyang. Because of this reason, the exposition was named the Nanyang Exposition.  The Nanyang Exposition opened on June 5th , 1910 in Nanking. The main sites, which occupied an area of over 140 hectares, were located in the regions of Dingjiaqiao and Sanpailou.  There were display houses for a number of provinces, which were Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Zhili, Shangxi, Shanxi, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Henan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Shandong, Zhejiang, Fujian, etc. As the host, Jiangsu and Jianxi had the largest displayed houses. Display categories were industrial crafts, agriculture, machineries, transportation, education, health, arts, and weaponries. There were also specialized display houses for Hunan’s china industry, Boshan’s glass industry, Nanking’s textile industry, Shanghai’s industrial bureau, Guangdong’s educational products industry, Zhejiang’s fishery industry, oversea Chinese businesses, and foreign products. Display items were mostly from light industry, agricultural by-product industry, arts and crafts industry. Directed by chief inspector Yang Shiqi, and led by renowned Nanking scholar Li Ruiqing, more than seven hundred experts of the exposition research group evaluated the quality of the display items. From nearly one million displayed items (four hundred and forty types), they presented first class awards to sixty six items, second class awards to two hundred fourteen items, third class awards to four hundred twenty eight items, forth class awards to twelve hundred eighteen items, fifth class awards to three thousand three hundred forty five items (a grand total of five thousand two hundred seventy one awards.) The Nanking Exposition drew extensive attention from people throughout the Chinese society, and attracted many high profile merchants, scholars, and government officials to attend. Also attended were the large delegations from Japan, United States, and Chinese residents from Southeast Asia. The Nanking Exposition lasted six months, and came to an end on November 29th, 1910. Over three hundred thousand people visited. Trades during the exposition were worth tens of millions of dollars. At that time, people considered the Nanking Exposition as a grand event in five thousand years of Chinese history.

Figures 7 & 8: Medals for the 1910 Nanyang Exposition (Click on images to enlarge.)

Although China was a very weak country during the late Qing dynasty, it had already written its history in hosting expositions. China is now becoming one of the world’s economic powerhouses. With its strength and resources, we believe China will host a very successful 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

In 1906, the commerce association in Guangdong hosted a display of manufacturing goods. The next year it established a bazaar. In 1908, Jiangsu’s industrial bureau hosted a display of commercial goods. In 1909, Jiangnan’s commercial bureau also set up a display of commercial goods. In 1910, Jiangnan’s commercial bureau hosted the Chancellor of Nanyang Products Exposition which displayed products from the southern provinces (Figure 3).

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