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Banknote with “Great Ming Circulating Treasure Certificate”
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2022.12.06 09:20:25

Period: Hongwu period of Ming dynasty(1368-1398)
Measurements: L.34cm, W.23cm
Provenance: Previous collection

Rectangular, dark grey in color, printed on mulberry bark paper with ink. Along the top, six characters were printed which reads “Da Ming Tongxing Baochao” (Great Ming Circulating Treasure Certificate). Below it, there is a broad decorative border of hooked lotus petals and dragons amidst the clouds all round the sheet. At the top of the central block printed the denomination of the bank note “One Guan”, below it are ten stacks of coins, which equal to One Guan stated above, and to the left of this reads “Treasure Certificate of the Great Ming Dynasty” and to the right “Circulating Within the Empire”. Below all of this is a long inscription that reads “The Ministry of Revenue, with Imperial sanction, has manufactured and printed Great Ming treasure certificates for circulation alongside bronze coins. Those using counterfeit notes will be executed. Informants will receive 250 liang of silver and the entire property of the criminal. On the Xth day of the Xth month of the Xth year of the Hongwu reign period.” The borders of the banknote are  decorated with motifs of dragons and waves.

In the eighth year of the Hongwu period in the reign of Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of Ming dynasty(1375), paper money standard was formed along with the establishment of the Paper Money Ministry, and related law was promulgated. Since the circulations of the “Baochao”(paper money), transactions in gold or silver, and barter were prohibited, furthermore, coins were also  withdrawn from circulation, and were forbidden to use, which resulted in the “Baochao” as the sole legitimate money in circulation. People could exchange paper money with their gold or silver at the sanctioned rate by the government, but it was not allowed in reverse. Overly excessive issuance of paper money inevitably created a vast inflation soon after. In the first year of the Zhengtong period(1436), the Ming government was forced to legalize the circulation of silver, coin, and paper money.