Height: 203.000 mm
Width: 125.000 mm
Gift of Dr W.L. Hildburgh
Coins and Medals
Silver dollar note issued by the Hu-peh Government Mint
From Hu-peh (Hubei) province,
The two dragons on this beautiful banknote from China are shown holding a Chinese Hu-peh silver dollar. The dragons are symbols of the emperor, while the coin (shown front and back) shows what this note was worth. The Chinese inscription down the centre of the note reads 'Pin piao qu yin yuan yi da yuan' ('With this note collect one silver dollar').
The note was issued by the Hu-peh Government Mint in the city of Wuchang. The mint was established in 1893 by the brilliant Chinese statesman, Zhang Zhidong (1837-1909). Zhang had opened China's first Western-style mint in Canton (Guangzhou) in 1889, the year he became the Governor-General for the Hubei and Hunan provinces. Zhang was a keen industrialist, opening an iron foundry and mine in Hubei as well as cotton mills, silk factories and tanneries. It is largely due to his initiative that the Wu-Han cities of Hubei came to be known as the 'Chicago of China'.
In 1899 there was an extreme shortage of standard cash in Hubei. Zhang requested permission from the imperial court to issue paper money denominated in silver dollars. The court agreed, and the dollar notes were successful, not least because of the mandate printed on the back of the notes. The mandate stated that the notes could be used in all official payments, including taxes, and that they would be redeemed at the Wuhan Government Monetary Office.
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)