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Bank notes in China

Marco Polo describes the way in which bank notes are produced in the 13th century for the Chinese emperor in what is now Beijing:

'They are made with as much authority and formality as if they were of pure gold or silver, for many officials who are deputed for this write their names on every note, placing there each one his mark, and and when it is all done as it ought to be, the head of them deputed by the lord stains the seal entrusted to him with cinnabar and impresses it upon the note so that the pattern of the seal dipped in the cinnabar remains printed there, and then that money is authorized. And if anyone were to counterfeit it he would be punished with the last penalty to the third generation. And different marks are printed on them according to their future value. And this money is made in the city of Beijing by those who are deputed for this by the king, and not by others. And each year he has so great quantity and supply of them made in the city of Beijing that he would pay with it for all the treasure of the world, though it costs him nothing.'

Quoted Bamber Gascoigne The Treasures and Dynasties of China, Cape 1973, page 162

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