These unusual rectangular tokens were used in the Shanghai mint in the 1950's.
To discourage theft, regular coins were not permitted to be used within the mint.
Knives were a common barter item in ancient China, but a bit hazardous to carry around to trade.
Some of China's first coins were made to look like a knife, so that people would think of them as money, but they lacked a sharp blade. This knife coin is called the "Ming" after the city where it was made (not the dynasty that was much later). It is made of bronze and is about 5 inches (13cm.) long.
The high quality of the coins and excellent calligraphy set a standard for Chinese coins for the next 1000 years!
Once they become emperor however, the emperor choses a reign title.
In July 1937 Japan began a full scale invasion of China.
Japanese forces quickly took Peking (Beijing) and Shanghai.
For the purposes of these coins, I will usually refer to both the reign title that appears on the coin (as that is what is used by most collectors of Chinese coins), and the common personal name that the emperor is known by in the history books. These unusual pieces of bamboo money were issued by the Guang Shan Private Bank, in Suzhou China. 200 Wen dated 1895 in the Chinese cyclical calendar, and 200 Wen dated 1928 in the Chinese cyclical calendar. The other side has the serial number and the name of the bank.
I will usually include both the Wade-Giles and Pinyin transcription. Each piece bears a unique serial number and is made with a hole to make it easy to carry on string.
Most traditional English language references used the Wade-Giles transcription.