Joseph P. writes: I was recently in Laos and purchased a set of solid silver balls of different sizes which were said to be old Lao currency. They came with a solid silver “boat” tray with Chinese characters which is almost certainly recently made. However, the coinage does not bear Lao characters that I am aware of, but these silver balls (with a slit running through one half the sphere like a nectarine) do have relatively simple patterns, the number which seem to increase with the weight of the ball. I’ve seen similar silver coins from China, but know almost nothing about these. Any insight?
The ball shaped silver coins with turned-in ends is properly Siamese and are of the denominations Baht or Tical. These “bullet” coins were made from the 14th century to the late 19th century. The marking’s usually are guaranteeing stamps but they may show denomination too. I don’t recollect this type of currency being native to Laos. Possibly one of our readers could elaborate further.