13-04-29-2089CO01X chinese banknote.jpg
A fine Chinese 14th century AD Mulberry paper banknote that realised US$11,000 (£7140) at the Baldwin-Ma Tak Wo sale in Hong Kong.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

There has been quite some debate as to where and when the first banknotes were issued. The Venetian traveller Marco Polo mentions them in China in about the 1290s, but it seems none as early as that have come down to us.

The invention of paper in China was a closely guarded secret but eventually it leaked out and came to Europe via the Silk Route; but this is a long story and is hardly relevant to this report.

There was an early note in the Baldwin's-Ma Tak Wo (18% buyer's premium) sale held in Hong Kong on April 4.

Lot 1 was a Ming Dynasty banknote issued by the Emperor Hong Wu (1368-98AD). It was block printed on Mulberry paper which is a particularly durable type of paper, preserving its good condition. The size (221 x 338mm) was usual for these Chinese notes.

These Hong Kong sales are conducted in US dollars and on this lot the estimate was $8000-12,000. It realised $11,000 (£7140).

This sale confirmed that the market for Asian and particularly Chinese material is strong and strengthening. As witness, the total estimates came to $827,810 but transformed into a total of $1.3m. (£842,000).

Palestine Specimen

Dix Noonan Webb (20% buyer's premium) held a sale of banknotes in London on April 10 which totalled £89,830, while the highlight of Spink (20% buyer's premum three-day world banknote bonanza from April 10-12 was, as anticipated, the 1929 Palestine £100 specimen, numbered among the greatest rarities in banknote collecting.

Estimated at £80,000-120,000, it took £65,000.

Spink also dispersed part III of the fascinating David Kirch collection of English banknotes, in this case covering Wales and the West Midlands, on April 18.

This constituted 800 lots of what are, in essence, local history documents of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Bearing in mind the emerging popularity of this collecting field, this sale offered an excellent opportunity to dip one's toe in the water, with examples selling for as little as £70 and rising to £1650, paid for an extremely rare £100 note issued by the Macclesfield & Cheshire Bank (Daintry, Ryle & Co), 27 January 18[40].