Monday, October 4, 2010
October 4, 2010
For over 150 years, these five notes had been the prized possession of some very savvy collectors and dealers who believed they were genuine surviving specimens of ancient Chinese paper money.
The notes purport to come from German collector George Pflumer of Hameln. In 1926 Pflumer sold his entire collection to the Marquess of Bute of Great Britain who in turn, sold the collection to Spink's in 1970. They were later acquired by Ted Uhl, a reputable paper money dealer.
Around 1983, Uhl sold the set to George D. Hatie, General Counsel and Immediate Past President of American Numismatic Association (ANA). Hatie began to doubt the authenticity of these notes. He sought advices from several experts in ancient Chinese money, among them, Bruce W. Smith and Sup Loy.
For many years, the single source "proof of authenticity" had been an 1833 Chinese numismatic catalog, 泉布统誌, Ch'uan Pu T'ung Chih (Ancient Coin Catalog) by Lin Meng. The catalog was translated in 1918 by Kojiro Tomita for Andrew McFarland Davis, who published it under the title "Ancient Chinese Paper Money as Described in a Chinese Work on Numismatics". Under close scrutiny, the experts saw many inconsistencies in the catalog and concluded it's a hoax, and the notes, copied from those described in the catalog, are forgeries*. These notes were believed to be printed in the 1800s, and began turning up in the West in the early 1900s. Experts in Chinese notes now generally acknowledged that they were the product of someone's imagination. Genuine ones simply do not exist and never did exist. The work may have been based on forgeries that the author believed were real, but the other possibility is that the author was the forger. In any event, the book and the notes are bogus.
Upon learning that these notes most likely were not genuine, Hatie returned them to Uhl for a refund. So whatever happened to these five notes? As it turned out, the set somehow ended up in the collection of William H. McDonald, Founder and Past President of Canadian Paper Money Society (CPMS). I bought them from his son-in-law who inherited the notes.
* Actually, only the first four notes are based on the Ch'uan Pu T'ung Chih. The last note ( Ming 1 Kuan) is a copy of a facsimile drawing of such a note from a book, General History of China, originally published in French in 1736 by P. Du Halde. Both the drawing and the note have characteristics done in a similar inexperienced handwriting and therefore, a forgery.
How do we know the Ch'uan Pu T'ung Chih is bogus?
Bruce W. Smith wrote:
1. First, every Asian scholar who has mentioned the work, has labeled it a fraud. These scholars include Dr. Lien-Shen Yang of Harvard; Dr. Thomas F. Carter, author of the standard work "The Invention of Printing In China"; Paul Pelliot, the French scholar; and Karl Wittfogel in his book "History of Chinese Society - The Liao Dynasty".
2. These scholars pointed out errors in the texts of the notes; terms that hadn't yet been invented; place names that were not in use at the time of the notes; etc.
3. The first clue to the bogus nature of the book is that the notes, though covering an 800 year range, all look pretty much alike. In fact, they are all based on the Ming note. All have a heading at the top, decorations around the edge, a pictorial representation of the value in the upper center, and a date and text about counterfeiting at the bottom. It is reasonable to assume that the first Chinese notes would be rather simple looking, and that the design and layout would change over 800 years.
4. Furthemore, the names and denominations of the notes described in the Ch'uan Pu T'ung Chih do not agree with descriptions in official government records of the various dynasties. (as published in the official dynastic histories).
5. Finally, there are in existence today a number of plates used to print notes of the Chin (Jin) and Yuan dynasties. These have been published in various Chinese and Japanese works, but are little known in the West. These plates do not match the notes shown in the Ch'uan Pu T'ung Chih. Also, there are some genuine notes of the Chin (Jin) and Yuan dynasties extant today. Several different notes have been found by archaeologists and are preserved in Russia, Sweden and China. These notes have been published in those countries, but are almost unknown to collectors, especially in the USA. These notes also do not match those in the Ch'uan Pu T'ung Chih.
Friday, October 1, 2010
October 1, 2010
On October 1, the Federal Reserve Board announced a delay in the issue date of the redesigned $100 note. This new design incorporates cutting edge, anti-counterfeiting technologies and the Federal Reserve imposes strict quality controls to ensure that users of U.S. currency around the world receive the highest quality notes. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing manufactures Federal Reserve notes and has identified a problem with sporadic creasing of the paper during printing of the new $100 note, which was not apparent during extensive pre-production testing. As a consequence, the Federal Reserve will not have sufficient inventories to begin distributing the new $100 notes as planned.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is working to resolve this problem, and the Federal Reserve Board will announce a new issue date for the redesigned $100 note as soon as possible. The originally scheduled issue date was February 10, 2011.