CHINA, SHANXI local note, 1939


CHINA, SHANXI, Shenchi County Financial Department, 1 yuan, year 28 (1939), Face: hand cut block print on handmade paper, 127x76mm, unlisted in Pick, unlisted in Smith-Matravers, VG

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The government of China was in disarray during the entire first half of the 20th century. Finances were decentralized. Local governments and business issued their own currency to keep their wheels turning.

The Chinese invented paper around 200 AD, says one article I read. They started making paper money during the Song dynasty, 1100s maybe. I think there are some Song banknotes in existence.

For organizational purposes, banknote collectors tend to make a distinction between national issues and local issues. The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money has a volume dedicated to “specialized” issues, where about 20,000 items are listed. A “complete” catalog would likely have at least 10 times that number. The Standard Catalog numbers for “specialized” notes are designated P-S. There are special catalogs for various series such as German and Austrian notgeld, former Soviet Union, etc.

Paper money, meaning the promise of a government to pay a set amount, and the paper promise allowed to circulate at will, was probably first used in China in the 12th century AD. At that time the merchants and governments of Europe were just writing letters to each other about what they owed.