Asian Paper Money

The Chinese developed the first known paper money around 800 A.D., although it did not gain widespread adoption until around 1000 A.D. After a brief period of use by private banks and merchants, the Song dynasty government issued their own bank notes, which quickly replaced the previous attempts. The Yuan dynasty, founded by Kublai Khan, resulted in the first state-guaranteed paper money. While the previous Song notes had an expiration date, were geographically limited, and tied to specific banks, the Yuan notes were good anywhere at any time. The Ming dynasty discontinued printing paper money for almost 200 years due to rapid inflation, reverting instead to requiring silver for most transactions.

Japan did not begin printing banknotes until 1872 as part of the continuing westernization of the nation following the Meiji Restoration. Early Japanese notes included very small yen denominations, including fractional yen values known as sen. These small value notes were phased out in 1953.

Today, Japanese paper money comes in four denominations: one, two, five, and ten thousand yen. The two thousand yen note is regarded as something of a specialty, as it was originally printed to commemorate the year 2000 and is the only Japanese denomination to begin with the number two.


Quick Facts

  • A "ooi-long," or black dragon, Chinese note sold at auction for around $127,000 in 2010. The 1909 note is one of three known to exist after being recalled in 1911
  • Early Chinese paper money was printed with up to six inks to help deter counterfeiters. Coupled with the intricate designs used and the fear of special, unknown fibers blended into the paper, very few counterfeiters were recorded
  • Mongolian paper money is printed with virtually identical designs across denominations. However, each different denomination is printed in a different color, making the value discernible at just a glance

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Sellers Who Sell Asian Paper Money


Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Richard L. Edwards Auctioneer

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Early American History Auctions

Early American History Auctions

Silver City Auctions

Silver City Auctions