SEDEL. CHINA. Ming. Kejsare Hung Wu. Kuan, 1380 eKr. Rare!

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Sedel från tidig Mingdynasti. Kejsare Hung Wu. Kuan sedel (1000 Cash), 1380 eKr. Storlek, 34 x 22 cm. Praktexemplar med fulla marginaler, distinkt tryck och med alla sigillstämplar fullt synliga! Sällsynt! Mycket bra exemplar!

Referens till Baldwin försäljning av likvärdigt exemplar (pris US$ 19.000 = SEK 120.000 + provision): http://www.baldwin.co.uk/media/cms/press-archive/HKCA47%20-%201%20-%20Kuan%20Banknote%20Breaks%20Record.pdf

SUMMARY
Kuan (1000 cash) paper-money note from chinese Hung Wu Era (1368-1399) of early Ming Dynasty, issued around year 1380. This is the oldest paper-money note preserved until today! It?s extremely rare and represent the finest surviving paper-money notes all categories ever printed in the world! This is also the largest paper money note ever issued. This item is in extremely fine quality with full margins preserved, and also with the red seal stamps distinct visible.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION
China was the first country in the world to use paper-money notes. The very oldest notes circulated during the 11th and 12th century, but these notes can only be described in general terms for lack of material objects (only few fragments are today available). These notes were observed by Marco Polo in the 12th century and when back in Europe he referenced to them as "the chinese flying money" and that the emperor had invented a way, like alchemists, "to make money of nothing". This information from Marco Polo gave europeans the idea to issue paper-money (several hundred years later).

The oldest paper-money notes that are preserved until today are from early Ming Dynasty and dated to around year 1380. These notes are the earliest numismatic printing, also the earliest obtainable commercial printing on paper, and nearly the oldest obtainable printing anything - a full lifetime before Gutenberg. A few of these notes are still available for the collectors, but they all tend to be absorbed by museums. Everywhere they reside they will represent the finest surviving notes all categories ever printed.

The Ming notes were made of paper from the mulberry tree. Mulberry paper is normally little lighter in color compared to the "Ming notes". The explaination is that mulberry paper used for paper (and for paper-money notes) often was re-made from waste of official Ming Government documents.

The size of the 1 Kuan note is about 34 x 22 cm, which also is the largest paper-money note in the world ever issued!

(Once upon a time this type of note also had the price record for paper-money notes in the Guinness Book of World Records!).

EXPLANATION OF PRINTING
1. AT THE TOP. Six chinese characters "Ta Ming T'ung Hsing Pao Cha's" (Treasure Note of the Great Ming) in regular K'ai Shu style.

2. CENTER UPPER. Printed with the face value "1 Kuan" (10 Strings) in regular K'ai Shu style. (1 String was at this period equlvalent to 100 copper cash).

3. CENTER MIDDLE. A pictorial presentation of 10 Strings (1 Kuan), each String consisting of 10 coins and each coin with a value of 10 Cash (10 Strings x 10 coins x 10 Cash = 1000 Cash).

4. CENTER RIGHT. ?Ta Ming Pao Cha'o? (Great Ming Treasure Note) with chinese Chuan Shu seal style characters.

5. CENTER LEFT. ?T'ien Hsia T'ung Hsing? (To circulate for ever and ever under the heavens) with chinese Chuan Shu seal style characters.

6. CENTER BOTTOM. The text in the lower text block can be translated: ?This note of the Great Ming is printed with the approval of the Hung Wu emperor (year 1368-1398) through the Hu Pao (the Ming finance department) and used side by side with copper cash. Those who counterfeit the Great Ming notes will be beheaded while an informant will be rewarded with 250 taels of silver and with confiscated property of the convicts into the bargain".

The left-most column in this center bottom text block show the date as: ?Hung Wu era, [year], [month], [day]?.

The red seal handstamps are typically not so clear because they are fading away naturally after hundreds of years. The red seal stamps being to these notes what signatures are to modern notes.

PROVENANCE OF THIS NOTE
The provenance of this note is documented almost all the way back to the period for when it was printed.

The history begins during the early (tyrannical) Ming dynasty about year 1375. Due to the high value of 1 Kuan and that several notes were found in the same hiding-place, the owner must have been a person of high station. This man probably hided the notes for reasons of war or conflicts with the regime. The beatiful Ming notes, representing a fortune, was hided into a buddha statue and sealed. The owner of the notes and buddha statue was presumably killed or taken as prisoner. The contents of the buddha statue was then forgotten and sealed for several hundreds of years...

...over 500 years later a danish employee, Sophus Black (1882-1960), on duty moved to the Far East. He moved together with his wife, Kirsten Betty (the first female dentist in Denmark). Black were for several decades (1902-31) working for a danish telegraph company (Store Nordiske Eastasiatisk Telegraf Compagni) in the Far East. One of Sophus Black's hobbies was collecting buddha statues.

Year 1931 Black and his wife was moving back to Denmark. He then also brought his buddha statue collection with him. During the ship voyage a danish seaman discovered a crack in one of the buddha statues and saw some kind of paper goods inside. Black decided to be very careful and having the paper goods examined by museum personnel after arrival to Denmark. The examination resulted in that Black become owner of a number of very beatiful and extremely rare paper money notes from the early Ming dynasty!

During the next few years Black expressed his thanks and presented as a gift one of the Ming notes each to his former employer Store Nordiske Eastasiatisk Telegraf Compagni, the shipowner Fa. A. P Moller, the National Museum of Denmark, and the "Konglige Danske Mont- og Medaillesamling". One note was also sold to a representant for the swedish govornment and was later given to King Gustav V of Sweden as a gift from the swedish people.

The Black couple had no children, after their death the remaining notes were sold to some institutions around the world and to a few private collections. This note is from one of these private collections.