74. Book: China’s Foreign Debt (catalogue of bonds and stock certificates)

The library of the Department of Coins and Medals, British Museum, has just acquired a copy of this illustrated catalogue, published almost 40 years ago in 1983:

Wilhelm KUHLMANN, China’s Foreign Debt 1865-1982 : Excluding the Debt of the ROC Taiwan (privately published by the author), Hannover, 1983. ISBN 0-9610400-0-9

bond book


1. Preface
2. A few historical considerations
2a. Some aspects of China’s financial history
2b. Chronology
2c. Yen-denominated bond issues
2d. Direct loans of foreign governments to China
2e. Private investments in China
3. Recent developments
3a. Foreign funds raised by the PRC to finance imports
3b. The Sino-US claims settlement agreement
3c. Development in Great Britain
3d. Other countries
3e. The PRC’s first trial to launch an external bond issue
3f. Bondholders’ struggles for redemption
3g. The Hukuang Case, by Prof. Hubert Park Beck
3h. The actual estimate of China’s foreign debt in the form of bearer bonds
3j. Charts of the big Chinese government loans
3k. Development of a collector’s market in Chinese bonds 1974-82
1a. Loan agreement
1b. Bond issues, specimens
1c. Reserve stock, duplicates
1d. Floatage, temporary bonds
1e. Inscribability, registerability
1f. Securities
1g. Drawing procedures
2. Introduction to the Catalogue
2a. Numbering system
2b. Other abbreviations
2c. Currencies
2d. Dates
2e. Denominations (= nominal or face value)
2f. Number issued and outstanding
2g. Colour
2h. Usual condition; grading
2j. Valuation
2k. Size
2l. Paper quality
2m. The different type settings
2n. Further general remarks
The Collector’s Synopsis of Chinese external bonds
Compilation of Chinese external bonds [ie the catalogue]
Appendix 1 – The Sino-German Agreement 1921
Appendix 2 – 4% Russian 1902 (China’s contribution to Russia)
Appendix 3 – Where to buy Chinese bonds
Every so often, someone asks about Chinese bonds and share certificates in the British Museum collection. There are a few in the BM Collection  – see Collection Online (search for China bond), but probably many more in private collections. Here’s one:
bond AN01556027_001_l

Government of the Republic of China Treasury Bond (8% on 500 francs) of 1923, for the Lung-Hsing-U-Hai Railway (BM 2014,4050.1, donated by Dirk Booms)

72. Digitization Project: Chinese Banknotes at the NNM, Smithsonian

There are several digitization projects happening at the National Numismatic Museum, at the Smithsonian, including this transcription project (I’ve copied and pasted from the NNM website below). Many thanks to Wayne Holmen, editor of The E-sylum for posting info about it (E-sylum, vol. 23, no. 6, February 9, 2020). (more…)

70. The Mao Era in Objects – Money

44. Japanese Occupation Money and the Battle of Balikpapan

Nicholas Lua Swee Yang, a student volunteer, has been helping me with the East Asian paper money collection this spring, most recently on the Japanese Occupation Money (also known as Japanese Invasion Money). One note [CIB,EA.208] particularly caught his attention, and inspired him to research it further and write this post.  (more…)

43. Ma Rong – engraver of Mao and monkeys

Generally speaking, the designers and engravers of Chinese banknotes and postage stamps do not receive a lot of attention. Until recently, banknote printing was shrouded in secrecy. In 2015, the new edition of the 100-yuan note was issued, and hit the news for two specific reasons: it was China’s first digitally engraved banknote and it was engraved by a woman. MA Rong is hardly a household name, but her work is known to millions. (more…)

42. A Viking ship on a Chinese note

This piece was first published on the British Museum blog on 9 June 2014, at the time of the Viking exhibition. It’s since disappeared from the BM website, so I’ll post it again here. I was reminded of this piece by Professor Robert Bickers, University of Bristol, who emailed this week with news of Fartsan T. Sung, one of the signatories on this note, having just posted a photograph of Fartsan T. Sung and his wife Margaret Wang Song on the website Historical Photographs of China (more…)

34. The Nicholas Rhodes Collection of Tibetan Coins

A reminder of how useful auction catalogues can be…  The Nicholas Rhodes Collection of Tibetan Coins  (羅寶士收藏 : 中國西藏錢幣 中國西藏紙幣), sold by Spink China, 21 August 2013, in Hong Kong – is available online.  (more…)

33. Marco Polo Studies and Yuan dynasty money

There was a very interesting conference in Tübingen this week: Marco Polo Studies: Past, Present, Future (I’ve copied and pasted the programme below). It was an intense, and friendly, workshop, bringing together expertise from different fields. I’m not an expert in this period, and felt very honoured to be invited, and to have the chance to learn from specialists from Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy and the USA. I gave a powerpoint presentation packed with images, aiming to illustrate representative pieces and introduce some recent work. I mentioned, for example: (more…)