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The last Chinese cash coins were cast in the first year of the Republic of China.
Generally most cash coins were made from copper or bronze alloys, with iron, lead, and zinc coins occasionally used less often throughout Chinese history.
During the Zhou dynasty period, the method for casting coins consisted of first carving the individual characters of a coin together with its general outline into a mould made of either soapstone or clay.
The mother coins were placed on the sand, and another pear wood frame would be placed upon the mother coin.
The molten metal was poured in through a separate entrance formed by placing a rod in the mould.
As this was done without using a prior model, early Chinese coinage tends to look very diverse, even from the same series of coins as these all were cast from different (and unrelated) moulds bearing the same inscriptions.
During the Han dynasty, in order to gain consistency in the circulating coinage, master bronze moulds were manufactured to be used as the basis for other cash moulds.
These tokens came to be used as media of exchange themselves and were known as spade money and knife money.