Great Qing Treasure Certificate

From China
Qing dynasty, issued AD 1857

The four Chinese characters arranged right to left across the top read Da qing bao chao ('Great Qing Treasure Certificate'). The serial number is printed in blue down the right-hand side. The denomination ('1000 cash coins') is printed down the centre, and the date down the left-hand side. The blue block of text below gives instructions for use. This note is modelled on earlier notes such as the Great Ming Circulating Treasure Note.

This note was produced at a time of political turmoil in the history of China. The 1850s were disastrous for the ruling Qing dynasty. The Taiping Rebellion posed a serious threat to the dynasty, and Taiping rebels succeeded in cutting off the route to Yunnan province, the main source of copper for Chinese coins. On top of this, costly military operations and natural catastrophes, such as flooding, caused the government to suggest issuing paper money.

Initally the emperor Xianfeng (1851-60) refused to allow this, fearing it would lead to rampant inflation as it had done in the Ming dynasty. However, in 1853 the worsening financial situation forced him to agree to issue paper money. But people did not trust it. The government issued paper money at 100% value, but only allowed people to pay 50% of their taxes in paper. So for most people, paper money was only worth half of its face value.

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Museum number

CM 1996-2-17-2436



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