The Kingdom of Heavenly Peace is a brief note in Chinese history that many people know little about. The Kingdom of Heavenly Peace was founded in 1850 and was formed as an experiment in Chinese culture. This small group’s economy was driven by their own currency. Eventually, the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace turned towards rebellion against the Empire, claiming the lives of 25 million Chinese. The rebellion would end when the government enlisted the help of Western forces.
During the short amount of time that the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace existed the group created a government, army, civil service, treasury and even a postal service. This need for a treasure allowed for the circulation of some rare and valuable coins and bank notes.
Collectors of Chinese currency have encountered notes in the Russian language. These notes were printed during the Bolshevik Revolution and include a Chinese hand-stamp.
Before the year of 1949, the People’s Republic of China was very different. The country was ruled by a communist party and they controlled scattered regions of the nation. These bases were known as soviets and were heavily influenced by the Nationalist armies and Japanese invaders at the time. These communists were self-sufficient in many interesting ways and included the use of some valuable coins and paper notes.
Collectors of Chinese bank notes will encounter notes with adhesive stamps affixed to them. These stamps were attached by the government at the time to authenticate the value of the note and also to show the tax implications of the money.
Coins and paper money originating from Japan were used in China during the nation’s occupation from 1937-to-1945. Japan divided China into various administration regions, each with their own financial management. Currency issued by the Japanese puppet government provide some interesting insight into a very turbulent time in both Chinese and world history. Marco Polo was impressed by many of the things he encountered in his exploration of China, including the use of paper money.
China’s defeat after the two-year Opium Wars left the Ch’ing Dynasty weak and scattered in many ways. Powerful European nations seized this opportunity to exploit the weakened nation. Both the British and French placed heavy demands on China in the form of monetary indemnity for the expenses caused by the war on China. During this time, currency issued by European nations made its way into China. Foreign-owned commercial banks from around the world set up shop in China’s largest cities. These banks were allowed to issue their own paper money. It’s estimated that over 20 foreign-owned banks operating in the nation at the time.
Currency collectors owe much to China and their large contributions to the numismatic history of the world. Heavy Chinese trade caused a need for paper that simply didn’t exist before in history. Some of the world’s oldest paper money originated from China. These notes were also used as a tool for propaganda throughout China’s history – from ancient battles to modern conflicts in the Middle East.