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China Ming Dynasty 1 Kuan


nutmegcollector
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I recently bought my second Ming Dynasty 1 Kuan note (shown on the bottom) from a college history instructor in China. This note is possibly a modern forgery. Maybe it's my imagination, but the note appears to be printed on felt-like material to resemble mulberry paper. Other than that, it's hard to tell the difference between the two notes. If it's a forgery, it's a very good forgery. Can anybody verify if this one is real or fake?

 

My first 1 Kuan note (shown on the top) was bought nine years ago from Ponterio & Associates auction of the Ed Bohannon Collection of Chinese Paper Money. Ed Bohannon is a regular contributor of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. This one is genuine and I paid almost 10 times more for it.

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Nutmegcollector - The only people I know of who have on/had one are you and Saor Alba. Although I think that an email to Erwin Beyer (Chinnotes) might be quite useful for information on this. He's quite knowledgeable about Chinese notes and what their supposed to look like.

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The main difference that stands out from the get go is that the semi flourescent red ink is not so on the second note. The "genuine" notes I have seen have had that red ink that is more like the red seal ink that has a more flourescent nature to it. Another key would be to look at the note against direct light and check the grain of the paper - mulberry bark paper is thinner and more transparent.

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How can you tell the difference whether it was printed on wood or metal block?

 

I would think with wood you would see more imperfections, unequal ink distribution, and lines. Metal much less so since the surface would be more uniform. Kind of like finger prints. A magnify glass and a good pool of notes may help.

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I would think with wood you would see more imperfections, unequal ink distribution, and lines. Metal much less so since the surface would be more uniform. Kind of like finger prints. A magnify glass and a good pool of notes may help.

 

 

Depends on what kind of wood you are using, for instance if you use a hard wood you will have fewer imperfections in the wood if it is finely finished.

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According to Certain Old Chinese Notes by Andrew MacFarland Davis, his book states that the wood blocks were used up until the year 1168, and after that they started the use of copper plates. THere is also a reference to the Mongols using them in 1277, but that was evidently their adoption of the technology already in place of the territory they conquered.

 

If you haven't a copy of the book, it can be found on Amazon, or at this link http://www.archive.org/stream/certainoldchines00daviiala#page/n9/mode/2up which has the benefit of being free, and searchable. You can find several references to printing through the search function at the top right. It operates as a book, so clicking on the right page advances one page and clickin on the left page advances to the left.

 

Should you desire to print or save a copy, there are several options at the base page here: http://www.archive.org/details/certainoldchines00daviiala

 

It is a fascinating read and I think that you would find it quite informative.

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In speaking to the differences in block printing, there can be differences. I have made a reference to this on my site under Chinese Banknotes, but I will reproduce here for convenience. When image printed was worn out and remade, there could be different artists who made them in different areas, each one being slighty off from the other. THis is because in later years (much after this note of Nutmegcollectors) printers were often times selling their designs to whomever would buy them, and if a need arose, the original artist might not be around to reproduce the needed block. This idea of th same instance of different artists could be entertained even back in the early Ming Dynasty.

 

THese two notes are from different institutions, but are the same image. Note the various discrepancies between the two. The background hatch, the items on teh tables, the candleflame, the scenes in the circles, patternso n the curtains, even the perspective on the table! Perhaps such discrepancies might well have happened between groups of notes printed here and another set printed there.

 

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According to Certain Old Chinese Notes by Andrew MacFarland Davis, his book states that the wood blocks were used up until the year 1168, and after that they started the use of copper plates. THere is also a reference to the Mongols using them in 1277, but that was evidently their adoption of the technology already in place of the territory they conquered.

 

If you haven't a copy of the book, it can be found on Amazon, or at this link http://www.archive.org/stream/certainoldchines00daviiala#page/n9/mode/2up which has the benefit of being free, and searchable. You can find several references to printing through the search function at the top right. It operates as a book, so clicking on the right page advances one page and clickin on the left page advances to the left.

 

Should you desire to print or save a copy, there are several options at the base page here: http://www.archive.org/details/certainoldchines00daviiala

 

It is a fascinating read and I think that you would find it quite informative.

 

 

Thank you, Dave. Most of the notes in Andrew MacFarland Davis' book came from the same source as my Five Ancient Chinese Notes which have since proved to be forgeries.

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It is not just old notes either, sometimes this happens even with modern notes. Malaysia comes to mind with notes that have varieties depending on who printed them.

 

I would think the ink used would also be different depending on if the notes were printed at different times or at different locations.

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I wonder how one can differentiate the genuine notes from the counterfeits if the real ones are not consistent.

 

Good point. But there may be a pattern. You could do some analyses to detect the forgeries but first you need a real note as a reference. I would see how much it costs to do micro-spectrophotometery on the notes, it is a non-destructive test. That would definitely distinguish different inks since manufacturing methods are different over time. I may give you a “finger print" to look for.

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