Authentic bamboo token ("bamboo tally"), c.1870-1940, South-Eastern China

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Struck with columns of characters. 71mm long.

From my old personal collection.

There existed a shortage of official government issued currency in parts of China as a result of the Qing Dynasty beginning to lose its authority during the late 1800s and during the turbulent early years of the Republic. To help alleviate this coin shortage, private banks and businesses began to issue their own form of "money". The problem was especially acute in certain areas of East China from roughly the 1870s to 1940s and examples of locally issued currency from these areas, made of metal, may be seen at Chinese Tokens.

However, another form of local currency that was particular to the Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces of east China was made not from metal but from bamboo. This type of money is variously known as "bamboo tallies", "bamboo tokens" and "bamboo money" and was commonly used in such establishments as stores, restaurants, teahouses, and even brothels. Bamboo does not have the intrinsic value of gold, silver or bronze coins. This means that the people had to have faith that the issuing banks and merchants would stand behind this type of money. Just as it is easy to issue paper money in any desired denomination, bamboo tallies which consisted of a simple bamboo slip were issued in denominations ranging from one fen to several thousand cash coins. While this form of currency circulated throughout Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shandong Provinces, it was mainly concentrated in Suzhou, and neighboring cities.


SKU x11500-75500



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