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Ta Ming T'ung Hsing Pao Ch'ao

(1375AD - 1643AD)

The use of money in China could be traced back to at least four thousand years ago. China was also the first country to use paper money, or credit currency in the world. Ancient paper money can only be described in general terms for lack of material objects. About the Pai-Lu P'i-pi (white deer-skin money) of Han Dynasty and the Fei-Chien (flying money) of Tang Dynasty, I personally have never seen the actual objects. However, the official issuing of paper money in Sung Dynasty is famous in the field of numismatic. [Chiao-Tzu (1008AD) and Chien-Yin (1105AD) of Northern Sung and Hui-Tzu (1160AD) and Kuan-Tzu (1131AD) of Southern Sung]. The use of paper moneys went on through the Yuan and Ming as well as the end of the Qing Dynasty. Paper money played its important roles in different stages of the money history of China.

I post below is an email from Ms. T. P. of West Danville in the state of Vermont, in an area called the Northeast Kingdom. It's very beautiful this time of year. She is not a collector of money, but her grandparents came to the country in the early 1900's. The note was given to her Father over 50 years ago by a very old Chinese lady.
I received this email on 2000 Aug 12. The email is self-explanatory

Subject: very old Chinese money
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 17:40:16 -0400
From: "T. P."

Dear Sir,

I recently came in to possession of what appears to be a very old piece of
Chinese paper money. I have done some research on my own at our local library
and museum and I have been told that it looks real. I have also bought some
books about the history of money and I have compared my piece with pictures
in these books with a magnifying glass and it looks the same. It appears to be
a 'Great Ming Circulating Treasure Certificate'.
It was given to my Father over 50 years ago by a very old Chinese lady
who told him that it was very old and very valuable and to keep it safe.
Since then it has been in a picture frame, covered by a glass all these years.
I would appreciate it, if you could help me find out if this is real.
I thank you for your time and if you want to get in touch with me,
my address and phone number is:
Mrs. T. P.
PO. Box xxx
West Danville, Vt. 0xxxx

Marks of Rareness of the Collected Currencies
Extremely Rare A ~ Very Rare B ~ Rare C ~ Not So Many D ~ Common E

Paper Money
issued by Hu Pao of Ming Dynasty

Mint Evolution & Peculiarity

No.: 327 Size: about 220 x 330 mm Issued by: Hu Pao Rareness: D


Ta Ming T'ung Hsing Pao Cha'o was first issued by Chung-Shu-Sheng (Cabinet of Ministers) in six denominations of 100 wen, 200 wen, 300 wen, 400 wen, 500 wen and one string. [Each string was quivalent to 1000 copper cash or one tael of pure silver or one-fourth tael of gold.] in the eighth year of the Hung Wu reign (AD1375). In 1389, fractional notes were issued additionally in five denominations: 10 wen, 20 wen, 30 wen, 40 wen and 50 wen. In the 13th year of the Hung Wu reign (AD1380), the right of printing notes was transferred to Hu Pao [Ministry of Interior and Finance].
From 1375, Ta Ming T'ung Hsing Pao Ch'ao was issued through the entire Ming Dynasty. It is special that the reign title "Hung Wu" (AD1368-AD1398) appeared on the notes lasting for the whole Ming period, even the other Ming emperors did not change it, though they had their own reign titles.


It is very difficult to identify an ancient note by just looking at the image throught computer. But I believe this note is authentic. The two red seal handstamps are not so clear, but luckily I still can find the marks remained on the surface from the close-up image. I think it is because they are fading away naturally after hundreds of year.
As I know that all the Ming notes were made with mulberry paper. Mulberry paper should be lighter in colour. But we may find that all the Ming notes are in blue-grey. Actually, mulberry paper using for Ming notes were re-made with the waste official documents and the examination papers of the Ming Government. We may also find that none of the Ming notes have surfaced.

On the obverse of this note, there are six Chinese characters "Ta Ming T'ung Hsing Pao Cha's" [Treasure Note of the Great Ming] in K'ai Shu (regular style) at the top. The below outer frame is ornated with the dragon patterns. The center upper was printed with the face value "I Kuan" [One string] in K'ai Shu (regular style), and the center lower were printed with diagram of 10 strings of ten cash each. On the both sides are eight Chinese characters "Ta Ming Pao Ch'ao, T'ien Hsia T'ung Hsing" [ The Great Ming note, circulates everywhere.] in Chuan Shu (seal style).
The center lower is written in Chinese "This Ta Ming Pao Cha'o is printed with the approval of the Emperor through the Hu Pao and used side by side with the copper cash. Those who counterfeit Ta Ming Pao Cha'o will be beheaded while an informant will be rewarded with 250 taels of silver with confiscated property of the convicts into the bargain.] "


1. 吳籌中:中國紙幣研究 上海古籍出版社 一九九八年 ISBN 7-5325-2355-1
2. 王雷鳴:歷代食貨志注釋第四冊 農業出版社 一九九一年 ISBN 7-109-00394-9/S.290
3. 趙隆業:中國紙幣的收藏與鑒別研究 北京出版社 一九九九年 ISBN 7-200-03204-2/F.208
4. 戴建兵 盛觀熙:中國歷代錢幣通 人民郵電出版社 一九九九年 ISBN 7-115-07426-7/g.561
5. 中國歷代貨幣(英文版)中國國際圖書貿易總公司發行 一九八三年 ISBN 962 7094 01 3
6. Albert Pick : Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 7th Edition-Volume II

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Any additional comment would be much appreciated, you can send it to Y K Leung.