Category Archives: World Currency

Currency Spotlight: Chinese Renminbi (Yuan)

Chinese Renminbi 100 Yuan





Two weeks ago, we featured Afghanistan’s Afghani banknotes, a colorful and historically rich currency that is a great addition for any foreign banknote collector. This week, we’re going to talk about the Chinese Renminbi, commonly known as the Yuan.

A little background info first

The official name of the currency of China is called the Renminbi, which when directly translated means, “[the] people’s currency.” Where it differentiates is that the “yuan” is actually the basic unit of measure for the renminbi, even though it is what the currency is referred to outside of China. The distinction between, “yuan” and “renminbi” is pretty much the same as the difference between “sterling” and “pound” in the UK.

History of The Renminbi

Throughout it’s long history China has used many different currencies. China was also the first country to use a fiat currency during the Yuan Dynasty. However, the yuan currency wouldn’t appear until the Republic of China era. During this time, the yuan was simply a denomination unit. Each currency was distinguished by a currency name such as the “gold yuan” and “silver yuan.”

Once the communist part gained control of large portions of northeast China in 1948 and ’49 they established the People’s Bank of China. This new bank then took over currency issued in communist controlled China. After the People’s Republic of China took control of the country the Renminbi was issued throughout the country.

This was the only currency used within the country for some time, however, it wasn’t the only currency to be used within mainland China. Fast forward to 1978, with the opening of the mainland Chinese economy, China began to use a dual-track currency system. The Renminbi was used domestically, and foreigners were forced to use foreign-exchange certificates, this was later abolished in the early 1990′s.

The Renminbi Today

Since it’s inception, the RMB has issued five different series. Today, the series has both banknotes and coins available for use and has even seen a few commemorative designs. One that stands out is the commemorative note from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. A green 10 yuan note was issued featuring the “Bird’s Nest” on the front and a classic discus thrower along with other athletes on the back.

Well that’s it for this week’s currency spotlight. As always, Great American Coin company is a purveyor of numismatic collectibles, and like with all of our foreign currencies, we are selling them as collectibles only, and not on a speculative basis.


The Ancient History of the Afghanistan Afghani

10 Afghan Afghan

Afghanistan, a land of rich history running back thousands of years. This country has long been a gateway to the east, and has seen the rise and fall of many storied and ancient civilizations. It’s currency is as storied as its country’s history. Curious about this storied currency? Read on to find out about this unique numismatic collectible.

The Afghan Rupee

Before the Afghani was created, the original currency in Afghanistan was the Rupee. The Afghani wouldn’t appear until after 1925. The Rupee had originated in the 16th century, when it was issued by the Afghan monarch Sher Shah Suri during his rule of Northern India. In actuality, this is where the Indian Rupee comes from. Before 1891, this was part of a tri-metallic money system, where the Rupee was issued in silver, along with the copper falus, and the gold mohur. There was no fixed exchange rate between the three metals, and each region issued their own coins.

The Afghan Afghani

Originally issued in 1925, the original Afghani was actually a coin and contained about 9 grams of silver and wasn’t the highest denomination of money in Afghanistan. Issued along with the Afghani was the bronze and brass pul, the billon pul which was worth 20 pul, the silver Afghani, and the gold amani. In 1952, the aluminum and nickel clad steel puls were introduced, followed by the aluminum Afghani in 1958. Additionally, between 1925 and 1928, The treasury issued bank notes in denominations of 5, 10, and 50 Afghanis.

For most of the Afghani’s existence it’s exchange rate has been determined freely by market forces. However, for some periods of time, a dual exchange rate existed within Afghanistan. There was an official exchange rate that had been determined by the Afghan central bank, and a free market exchange rate that was determined by the supply and demand forces in Kabul’s money bazaar.

The Afghani was re-issued in 2002 with no subdivisions, which means there was only one denomination with no lesser denominations equaling one Afghani. Today, the currency has continued to gain confidence in its country of origin, and is a beautiful and colorful collectors piece for those looking to include the middle east in their collection of foreign banknotes.