Monday, January 29, 2007


1 Kuan
Tom Chao has an interesting paper money collection.
"This note was printed on recycled mulberry paper from discarded government documents and examination papers. The six Chinese characters on the top read "Ta Ming T'ung Hsing Pao Ch'ao" (Great Ming Payable Precious Note). The note was hand stamped with two square red chops. The outer frame is decorated with ornate dragon patterns. Inside, the upper half were printed with the face value "1 Kuan" and 10 strings of ten cash each. These are framed by two panels, one on each side, with eight Chinese characters "Ta Ming Pao Ch'ao, T'ien Hsia T'ung Hsing" (Great Ming Precious Note, Payable Everywhere). Written in Chinese inside the lower half: Ministry of Interior and Finance. Printed with the approval of the Emperor. Great Ming Treasure Note payable in copper cash. User of Counterfeits will be beheaded. Informer will be rewarded with 250 taels of silver in addition to the confiscated property of the convicted. Reign of Hongwu (1368-1399).
This 1 Kuan banknote of the Ming Dynasty is from the estate of Hubbard Ballou, late of Chester, Vermont. Mr. Ballou was a missionary born in Peking, China and living there until the end of WWII.
Mr. Ballou received this banknote from his friend, L. Carrington Goodrich, who was associated with Yenching University, Peking in the 1930's. Mr. Goodrich told Mr. Ballou that he received the banknote under the following circumstances:
Sometimes in 1936 one of the walls surounding Peking was being torn down. When the laborers got to the huge gate, they found, to their surprise, a large bale of the 1 Kuan banknotes of the Ming Dynasty buried in the wall itself. After removing the soiled and damaged notes, the workers sold the banknotes to those standing around and Mr. Goodrich came upon this note at that time. He told Mr. Ballou that he purchased two of them for a few "coppers", which amounted to just a few pennies.
This note, measuring 222mm x 340mm, is listed in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money as catalog number: China AA10. It is unrivaled in the world of paper money as the world's first banknote. It is over 600 years old!
This note later fell into the possession of Ed Bohannon, collector and numismatic consultant. Bought from the Ed Bohannon Collection of Chinese Paper Money, April 28, 2001."

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