Friday, 10 May 2013

Printing money

"In this city of Kanbalu is the mint of the grand khan, who may truly be said to possess the secret of the alchemists, as he has the art of producing money by the following process.  He causes the bark to be stripped from those mulberry-trees the leaves of which are used for feeding silk-worms, and takes from it that thin inner rind which lies between the coarser bark and the wood of the tree.  This being steeped, and afterwards pounded in a mortar, until reduced to a pulp, is made into paper, resembling (in substance) that which is manufactured from cotton, but quite black.  When ready for use, he has it cut into pieces of money of different sizes, nearly square, but somewhat longer than they are wide....  The coinage of this paper money is authenticated with as much form and ceremony as if it were actually of pure gold and silver;......

When coined in large quantities, this paper currency is circulated in in every part of the grand khan's dominions; nor dares any person, at the peril of his life, refuse to accept it in payment. ...   With it, in short, every article may be procured."

The Travels of Marco Polo  (Everyman's Library edition)

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