The English word "cash", meaning "tangible currency", is an older word from Middle French caisse.
There are a variety of Chinese terms for cash coins, usually descriptive and most commonly including the character qián (錢) meaning "money." Confusingly, Chinese qián is also a weight-derived currency denomination in Chinese called mace in English.
Traditionally, Chinese cash coins were cast in copper, brass or iron. In the mid-19th century, the coins were made of 3 parts copper and 2 parts lead. Cast silver coins were periodically produced but are considerably rarer. Cast gold coins are also known to exist but are extremely rare.
Chinese cash coins originated from the barter of farming tools and agricultural surpluses. Around 1200 BC, smaller token spades, hoes, and knives began to be used to conduct smaller exchanges with the tokens later melted down to produce real farm implements. These tokens came to be used as media of exchange themselves and were known as spade money and knife money.
The last Chinese cash coins were struck, not cast, in the reign of the Qing Xuan tong Emperor Vietnamese cash continued to be minted to 1933. shortly before the fall of the Empire in 1911. The coin continued to be used unofficially in China until the mid-20th century.