The discovery of a puzzling 340-year-old coin etched with traditional Chinese characters in Canada’s Yukon territory suggests that the area was already aflurry with trading even before the Gold Rush. Minted during the Qing Dynasty reign of Emperor Kangxi, the coin is 60 percent copper and 40 percent zinc. It was cast between 1667 and 1671 — long before the 1898 gold rush, when people from all over the world headed to Dawson City and the Klondike gold fields. The coin adds to an intriguing small collection of ancient Chinese coinage discovered in Yukon near gold rush trails.
“Overall, three Chinese coins have been found in the Yukon Territory,” expedition leader James Mooney, from Ecofor Consulting Ltd., told Discovery News. While one dates from 1724 and 1735, a third coin, unearthed in 1993 near a gold rush trail by Beaver Creek, is surprisingly older. “This coin was thought to date from 1880 to 1910 and to be associated with a Klondike era use of a trading trail,” Mooney said.
But fact-checking following the new discovery revealed that the coin dated from between 1403 and 1424. “This age overlaps with a controversial theory of worldwide exploration by Chinese explorers, and only begs more questions,” Mooney said. The three ancient Chinese coins are round with a square hole in the center, but the newly found coin has four additional small holes above each corner of the central square.