China Invented Every Single Major Form of Currency – Metal Coins, Paper Money and Fiat Currency – And Seized Gold Six Centuries Before FDR

You may know a lot about China’s Renminbi Yuan.

But there is a lot about the history of Chinese currency that you likely don’t know.

China Created the First Metal Coins

After trading for many years in shells (3000 to 4500 years ago), and then in shell-shaped currency made out of bone, wood, stone, lead and copper, China apparently moved into bronzed shells (circa 1500 BC to 1046 BC), various shapes of bronze coins such as small knives and spades (5th century BC to 221 BC) and then round bronze coins with square holes in the middle (starting around 221 BC ).

China Created the First Paper Money

During the Song dynasty (960-1279), a form of promissory note in the Sichuan province called “flying money” became very popular, and – in 1024 – the government took over production of printing flying money, and then expanded the system into the world’s first paper money currency.

By the twelfth century, various forms of paper money had become the dominant forms of currency in China

China Created the First Fiat Currency

The world’s first currency not backed by precious metals – called the “Chao” – was created during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Six Centuries Before FDR, China Took Emergency Measures and Seized Gold

In order to prop up its fiat currency and prevent runaway inflation, the Yuan government attempted to prohibit all transactions in or possession of silver or gold, which had to be turned over to the government.

China has outlawed possession of silver several times since, and has just lifted the most recent ban.

Note: I have not seen any evidence that China invented shells as a form of currency.

The above information comes from numerous sources. A good introduction can be found here.

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  • Watch,Empire Of Silver

  • Maybe the rest of what you wrote is correct, but according to this Lydians made the first coin.

  • im rich bitch!!!

  • Washington76

    Asian economies turn to yuan, “and dump dollar!” Updated: 2012-10-24 By Gao Changxin

    A “renminbi bloc” has been formed in East Asia, as nations in the region abandon the US dollar and peg their currency to the Chinese yuan — a major signal of China’s successful bid tointernationalize its currency, a research report has said.

  • Elxnander

    According to you, China started minting what might be called coins around 500 BCE. But the earliest minted coins in Lydia and Greece predate that (see and

  • nhr215

    I’m afraid you’re wrong here. The greeks and the Jews both used coins prior to the Chinese.

  • Rich

    I was under the impression that Phoenicians were using metal money from around 1500BC

  • Zack

    “A tomb of the Chinese Shang Dynasty dating back to the 11th century BC shows what may be the first cast copper money Tong Bei. Coinage was in widespread use by the Warring States period and the Han Dynasty.”

    Phoenician coinage history, ~500BC, give or take a few decades: