Item #506 Kuan Currency Note; Chinese Printed Paper Currency
Kuan Currency Note; Chinese Printed Paper Currency
Kuan Currency Note; Chinese Printed Paper Currency

Kuan Currency Note; Chinese Printed Paper Currency

China: Ming Emperor Hongwu, 1368–1398. 1 Kuan note produced under Hongwu (Zhu Yuanzhang), the first Ming Emperor. Block printed, in black ink, on gray mulberry paper. It’s the largest paper money ever (8 3/4” X 13 3/16”), from a series of the earliest numismatic printing and the earliest obtainable commercial printing on paper, 2 generations before Gutenberg, however, it’s 700 years after any block printing, and 500 years after the first block printed book. Small chips and tears at the edges, (most are natural to the deckled edges of 14th century paper making, and all are outside the borders), a 1/4” hole (paper flaw) in the left dragon border, and the red seals are a little faded. PMG (the leading assessorof currency) slabbed and graded “Very Fine 25” and do not buy any currency that is not slabbed and graded and thus certified authentic above dispute (crucial), and not repaired (almost as crucial with currency, because any repair annihilates value). The Chinese text at the top reads “Da Ming tong xing bao chao” (right to left, in regular K’ai Shu style), translating as “Great Ming Circulating Treasure Note.” Below that is the denomination in 2 characters “yi guan” translating as “one string” with 1,000 copper coins (equaling 1,000 cash) pictured in 10 groups of what are meant to be 100 coins, then worth one tael of purse silver or 1/4 tael of gold. The center is flanked by 8 Chinese characters “Ta Ming Pao Ch’ao, Tien Hsia T’ung Hsing” (in Chuan Shu style), translating as “the Great Ming note circulates everywhere” then rules for use, a threat to punish forgers, and an outer surrounding frame of dragon patterns. And overprinting all are red handstamps on each side, having the function of signatures on modern banknotes (the reverse one is the imperial seal). An ancient banknote, from a nation that has long prided itself on advanced science and medicine, but also seems determined to connect them to its primal heredities, so (for one example) they have just bred a man with a rabbit to produce a human with a lucky foot. Ref: Pick AA10 S/M#T36–20. very fine. Item #506

China was the first country to use paper money (credit currency) and tested it regionally in the late 10th century, with notes limited by time. A national issue (state backed by gold or silver) began in 1265, and our note is among the oldest examples now available whole, as earlier survivors are almost all seen in fragments, scattered in university and national libraries, museums, and their kin. Marco Polo saw the forerunner of our paper money in the 13th century and referred to it as “flying money” and he likened the ability to print money (that was equal in commerce to gold) as alchemy.

Here are Polo’s own words, translated from his Book of the Marvels of the World:
“All merchants arriving from India, or other countries, and bringing with them gold or silver or gems and pearls, are prohibited from selling to anyone but the emperor. He has 12 experts chosen for this business, men of shrewdness and experience in such affairs; and these appraise the articles, and the emperor then pays a liberal price for them in those pieces of paper [money]. The merchants accept his price readily, for in the first place they would not get so good a one from anybody else, and secondly, they are paid without any delay. And with this paper money they can buy what they like anywhere over the Empire, whilst it is also vastly lighter to carry about on their journeys. And it is a truth that the merchants will several times in the year bring wares to the amount of 400,000 bezants [a gold coin associated with Byzantium] and the Grand Sire pays for all in that paper. So, he buys such a quantity of those precious things every year that his treasure is endless, whilst all the time the money he pays away costs him nothing at all. Moreover, several times in the year proclamation is made through the city that anyone who may have gold or silver or gems or pearls, by taking them to the mint shall get a handsome price for them. And the owners are glad to do this, because they would find no other purchaser giving so large a price. Thus, the quantity they bring in is marvelous.” –Chapter 24.

Price: $6,500.00

Item Sold