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China: A Tale of Two Currencies

Ever since throwing off Mongol rule, China has been struggling to build an economy and especially a means of exchange. In other words... they needed their own MONEY! At this point most exchange is being done by barter. The Ming dynasty is issuing paper money as the Mongols had done before but it soon becomes worthless even though it can be exchanged for copper coins... theoretically. No matter how many laws they pass prohibiting using precious metals as the means of exchange, the people continue to use silver on the sly. In certain areas where barter is inefficient, a measure of silver called a tael [TAIL] (about 40 grams of silver) is now accepted as legal tender. This concession by the government will become the norm and the use of paper money will fall off over time. [1]

FYI: Tael [TAIL] is the English word borrowed from the Portuguese word, borrowed from the Malaysian word for "weight" and it is related to the word "tolerance" in the sense of "measuring." [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The United States once issued paper "Silver Certificates" that could be exchanged for silver... theoretically. It required trust that the government really WOULD exchange the paper for silver. In the days of the wild west (after President Andrew Jackson's economic policies) paper checks were issued to railroad workers who walked over to a boxcar to exchange the paper immediately for gold. It was an exercise to get the workers to use paper money as a means of exchange. Many of those workers were Chinese.

Additional Information: Andrew Jackson killed the Second Bank of the United States (the "Federal Reserve" of the day). It needed to die but in its death throes, confidence in paper money was shaken. While Jackson was well-meaning, everything he knew about economics could be stuffed into a thimble. He placed US government spending on a "cash only" basis which was followed by wild swings in the economy because US government spending, even in those days, was an economic force all its own. [3][4] [5][6][7]

No Bull. Pamplona United Or Else

The city of Pamplona in Navarre (northern Spain) is actually three feuding boroughs but the king has had enough of it. He issues a edict, calling a halt to the feud, knocking down the dividing walls and binding the boroughs into a single town for all time. The present day city hall was erected in the space created between the boroughs. Pamplona is best known today as the site for the "Running of the Bulls" but bullfighting won't become popular until the early 1700s. Right now, the only reason a Spaniard would run from a bull would be if he walked into the wrong pasture. [8] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day we think of these provinces as part of the modern nations we know of today such as Spain in this instance, but Navarre is more related to France at this time. It has joined in the fights of the 100 Years' War and King Charles the 3rd of Navarre was born smack dab in northern France. He is probably forcing the city of Pamplona into peace because he is building a huge cathedral there. It wouldn't do to have the citizens murdering each other in the streets in front of God and the saints. Would it?

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1423, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Gernet, Jacques. (translated by Foster, J. R. and Hartman, Charles) A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. 1996. p.415. (BOOK) Quote: "The belief in the effectiveness of authoritarian measures for fixing the value of means of payment, a belief imposed by a long tradition of state economic activity, was to be completely contradicted by the general triumph of silver money."
  2. Webster, Noah. (author) Grove, Philip B., (Editor-in-chief)) Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged ... with Seven Language Dictionary: "tael". Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1981. Volume 3, p. 2327. (DICTIONARY)
  3. Promissory note - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Silver certificate (United States) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Second Bank of the United States - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. Federal Reserve System - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Gordon, John Steele. An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power. New York: HarperCollins. 2004. ISBN 0060093625. (BOOK)
  8. Pamplona: Three boroughs and one city - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Bullfighting: History - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Running of the Bulls: History - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Charles III of Navarre - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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