Coin and Currency Collecting as Economic and Political History Lessons…


Chinese Gold Customs Unit 5000 Closeup of Two

I have just come into possession of a collection of 515 immediately post-World War II Chinese banknotes issued by the “Central Bank of China” “Customs Gold Currency Units” and Yuan, plus a couple of 1918-1919 “White Russian”, Post-Imperial-anti-Bolshevik partisan (“South Russian High Command of the Armed Forces”) pro-monarchist pre-Soviet banknotes, in addition to a small (ca. 40 lb) grab bag of 19th-20th Century Coins (with a few earlier) and after a hiatus of five years away from my life-long hobby, I find myself collecting coins and currency again.  

My career as a coin collector dates to a very special summers day in England when I was a tiny tot of 3 or 4 or so on which I went on a rare trip wandering through the countryside with my Dad into the woods and cornfields in and around Southwold, a small town by the north sea in Suffolk shire.  I suppose there’s some evidence that some of our ancestors might be traceable back to that little town  or village in what was before 1066 in Anglo-Saxon times known as East Anglia (the east Angles were divided into a “North Fork” and a “South Fork” = Norfolk & Suffolk).  But long before the first Angles had arrives from Jutland and Northern Germany that part of Britannia was known as the territory of the Iceni…a fierce tribe of “Barbarian” Celtic Britons who resisted the Roman Conquest.  

I remember that trip because it’s literally one of the only two or three memories I have of being with my father alone and doing something really fun from that time horizon, before I was six.  It was  also the first time I had ever walked in a field of “American Corn” (aka Zea mays Linnaeus) and additionally the first time remembering hearing about Texas and in particular the East Texas cornfields near where I was born in Commerce, Texas….  and I also learned some of the uses of corn which to me at that age were very traumatic….  walking through the cooler woods was more fun but in those freshly ploughed cornfields my dad spied a shiny thing and picked it up…. and it turned out to be a silver coin, but no ordinary silver coin.  Upon cleaning and examination it turned out to be an ancient pre-Roman coin of the Iceni tribe of Boadicea….the Celtic Warrior Princess who fought the Romans to the death…. celebrated in English legend and story ever since.  

But that one 1900 year old coin coin from about A.D. 60 was just the beginning and I started collecting coins with first my dad and then my mother’s and then my grandparents’ help…. and it is by far my oldest and most cherished hobby, and surely one of the reasons I ended up entranced both by history and archaeology/anthropology….. My Dad was a linguist and tried to teach me a bit of Welsh and Cornish but it definitely didn’t stick….but the coin collecting did….

Taken from a dusty town, by a set of curious chances, wafted by a favoring gale, as one sometimes does in trances…. over the past couple of days I have found myself in possession of a new and surprisingly large collection of coins and currency, and I just felt the need to share and start writing about it and maybe getting information from others—

I have found some information on the web, and the Central Bank of China (Taiwan) has issued this statement about non-redeemability:

http://www.cbc.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=29903&ctNode=859&mp=2

but I want to know more about two things in particular: about the historical use and circulation of the Central Bank of China’s Customs Gold Units, my examples appear to be WWII and Post, having been collected by a U.S. Air Force veteran….

2 responses to “Coin and Currency Collecting as Economic and Political History Lessons…

  1. Just a quick question…is 5000 custom gold units worth anything today?

    • Charles Edward Lincoln III

      Well, I guess it depends on what kind of measure of value you want to apply. The Chinese Banknotes and bills are VERY interesting. But they are not redeemable in Gold. Redemption in gold—I looked it up somewhere—stopped either in the late 1940s or early 1950s—so these bills have a “collector’s value” not unlike Confederate or Republic of Texas Money, or the “White Russian” (pro-monarchist) bills from World War I and the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, except that the Chinese Gold Units are MUCH MORE ABUNDANT and plentiful than Confederate, Texas, or White Russian notes. So keep them and enjoy them, but if you sell them count on getting less then $10.00 each for all but the rarest denominations and most perfect conditions, even to a really enthusiastic collector…

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