Abstract

A thorough assessment of the secondary minerals on 796 Chinese Pb-Cu-Sn-Zn bronze coins from ~1100 BC to AD 1911 has been made. Malachite is found on more than 80% of the coins irrespective of their dynasties, but a botryoidal texture is only observed on the coins of the Song dynasty or older. Azurite, however, is seen in microscopic quantities on a single coin of ~AD 1800, but is clearly visible on the Ming dynasty or older coins. Cerussite is a common secondary mineral of the Qin dynasty and older coins, though it has not been found on the Qing dynasty or younger coins. Cuprite is observed on the Song dynasty and older coins.

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