Does anyone know where I can find a list of terms used for units of currency throughout the history of China? I am especially interested in finding those terms that can function as 量词, like 文 and 贯. I have already checked Wikipedia (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E8%B4%A7%E5%B8%81) and Baidu (http://baike.baidu.com/view/1802633.htm), but am not entirely satisfied inasmuch as they focus on the currency itself rather than the terms used to talk about it.
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
The most used ones are 钱、文、贯、吊、千 and 万。They are not names for money, they are quantitive nouns. Read more: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B0%BA%E8%B4%AF%E6%B3%95
Originally, 钱 is a very small mass amount. However, as time went by, it became the name for money.
There are other nominative words to refer to currency itself: 贝(shell)、币(刀币as referring to antique money)、帛(fine silk that can be used in barter trading)、锱铢(bronze or cast steel coins)、孔方(bronze coins with a hole)、元（圆）(coin)、金(metals)。Sometimes we also use 元宝、锭 for different shapes metals are made. For the modern world, we sometimes use 刀 or 美刀 to refer to USD.
Others are quantitive words. They might be quite confusing because traditionally we think it a vulgar doing as to refer to money directly, or because it is inconvenient to compose quantitive word and the noun itself together. Fortunately today we only use a little of them now. Note that in strict grammar, quantitive words are a special kind of nouns.
However, sometimes ancient people pay their debts in precious metal like gold / silver / bronze. Then we use mass units to count.
The following are quantitive words for counting money.
文(historical "small")=枚(when you don't know the coin's value, "a small piece")=元("the basic")=圆("a round stuff")=块(“a bulk”)=1 main unit coin.
角(litterally a corner / a horn of an animal)=毛(litterally "a feather of a bird")=1/10 the main unit.
分(litterally "a part")=1/100 the main unit.
厘("nuance")=1/1,000 the main unit.
毫("body hair of a beast")=1/10,000 the main unit.
贯(historical,"to string up")=千("a thousand")=1,000 main unit
Note: In classical Chinese scripts, since there is no clear difference between quantitive and nominative words, it is possible to say 二百又一錢, which equals to 二百零一块钱 in mandarin.
Here are some of my preliminary notes, please suggest additions or corrections Note that the following is focused exclusively on "coinage" (not all are actually coin shaped)
commonly used weight measures for many of the currencies listed below are 两, 镒, and 钱