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I'm going over this sentence here:

剃头匠不愿招惹麻烦,只得赔偿三百文钱。

I'm curious to know how much 三百文钱 would be worth today.

汉语大辞典 has an entry for 文钱 but all it says is:

钱。因钱有文字,故称。

How much was 300 wen worth during the Ming Dynasty?

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  • 1
    This can be an extremely complex question to answer, it depends on the specific time period in Ming dynasty, and it depends on the measure you take, for example, you can use crop as a measure, you can also use average personal annual income or even real estate as a measure. Anyway, you are not the first person who is curious, so there are sources you could look at, but please be skeptic.
    – zyy
    Mar 19 '19 at 3:06
  • Interesting question, but I don’t think this is the right SE.
    – dROOOze
    Mar 19 '19 at 4:24
  • By the way, 文钱 is not a word, instead, 文 is a measure of 钱,like 两 can be a measure of 银子 in 一两银子。
    – zyy
    Mar 19 '19 at 14:31
  • The title and body are different, and it's not Chinese language related. More of a question about history, not language Mar 19 '19 at 14:50
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This should be a question for history not Chinese language.

  • For the language part: In ancient China, multiple kinds of currency are used like gold, silver, copper coin and even cloth. 文 is the unit for copper coin like this Ming dynasty coinage
  • For the history part: During Ming dynasty, 1000 文 ≈ 1 两 silver which can buy 2 石 rice = 188.8 kilogram rice = 416.2 pound rice. So 300 文 is about 124.9 pound rice.
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I have no calculator on me, so just give you a method to compute.

There were many monetary units in ancient China, but only three basic units are discussed here:

一文钱

一两白银

一两黄金

("一两" is about 40 grams, "白银" is silver, "黄金" is gold)

Normally, "一两白银" is about "1000文钱", "一两黄金" is about "10两白银".

Then you can compute how much "300文钱" is. Converting it into equivalent amount of gold as mentioned above, and use today's price of gold to compute.

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  • Currently, 1斤=10两=500 g, so 1两 = 50g. During ROC era, 1斤=16两=500 g, so 1两 = 31.25 g. In Qing Dynasty, 1斤=16两= 596.816 g, so 1两 = 37.371g.
    – Victor
    Mar 19 '19 at 14:35

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