Chinese Empire, Ming Dynasty, Hongwu, Temple Name Taizu, 1000 Ch'ien

Given the low purchasing power of a single Chinese cash coin it comes to no surprise that other means of payment were introduced early in China. At the beginning of the 9th century the emperors started to issue paper money. This Chinese bill from the 14th century is the oldest existing banknote we know of. It measures 22.5 by 34 centimeters (almost 10 inches by 1 foot 4 inches), and in the middle illustrates the pile of coins for which it could be exchanged: 10 strings of copper coins worth 100 coppers each.