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February 2004: Missionary Currency

from Collection 215, Box 2, Folder 13

This month's Bulletin Board shows a note issued by the China Inland Mission exactly 100 years ago. It was meant to be used by workers of CIM or their authorized creditors for the transfer of small sums of money. The note, signed by Treasurer A. Judson Broomhall, had to be exchanged at one of the banks or commercial houses or mission stations that were authorized to handle CIM business in a particular part of China. A missionary (or a mission creditor with an authorizing statement from a missionary) could hand in this note for the equivalent of a dollar in the local currency.

These bills would have been worthless to a robber, since he couldn't exchange them, but it did help missionaries in remote areas draw on mission funds for small amounts that might be necessary. In 1904, China was in the midst of the confusion that marked the end of the Manchu Empire. Warlords and foreign governments were starting to exercise real control in some areas. "Currency" such as this private note, printed by the Mission headquarters in Shanghai, were used to allow individual missionaries and mission stations to draw against accounts in the Mission's office in Shanghai and so help the witness of the missionaries to continue amid the social and economic dislocation of the time.

The two characters in the oval in the center of the front of the bill and on the back mean "One Yuan." The characters along the left and right side of the front mean "China Inland Mission."

This note is from Collection 215, the Records of the United States Home Council of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

from Collection 215, Box 2, Folder 13

To see a similar private currency note, click here.

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Last Revised: 02/13/04
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005