Unrecognized Countries and Their Currency, Part 2: Asia
Posted on 7/19/2016
In Part 1 of this series, we showcased some banknotes from unrecognized African countries as they struggled to assert their independence from colonial rule in the mid 20th century. In this final part, we will take a look at three Asian countries that either sought independence or found themselves as puppet states for foreign governments.
India’s 565 princely states were individual principalities that, while located within India’s borders, had monarchies that allied themselves with Great Britain. Hyderabad was the most populous of the princely states, and its leaders, the Nizam, ruled the state from 1724 to August 1947, when Great Britain and India agreed to the latter’s independence. However, the Nizam refused to relinquish control and allow the citizens to elect a new leader. As a result, thirteen months after India was granted its independence, “Operation Polo” was employed by the Indian army to forcefully annex Hyderabad back into India proper.1
Because of Hyderabad’s relatively short time as an unrecognized nation, there were no new banknotes issued during this period. However, Hyderabad notes are the most commonly submitted princely state notes to PMG, and we have graded 1, 5, 10, 100, and 1,000 rupee notes. The image above includes a coat of arms on the top left corner on the front, and an image of a 1 rupee coin on the back.
Tibet has a history of attempting to claim its independence from China, but from 1912 to 1951, the nation was free of direct Chinese rule. The fall of the Qing dynasty allowed Tibet to assert a sort of independence, as some Tibetans negotiated a treaty with Mongolia to recognize their sovereignty. Aside from periodic clashes with Chinese army forces, Tibet controlled its own destiny for decades, until internal corruption led to a civil war in 1947, which did not go unnoticed by China.2 In 1950, China incorporated Tibet while granting them a measure of autonomy under Chinese rule. However, Tibet’s leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, later repudiated the agreement before fleeing in 1959.
Tibet has had numerous currency issues during their four decades of independence, ranging from 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 tam from 1912-1931, and 5, 10, 25, and 100 srang from 1941-1959. The 50 tam note (Tibet Pick #5) was forged so often that the Tibetan government issued a new version of the note (Tibet Pick #7), that was machine printed with more colors.3 After 1959, China discontinued these notes and replaced them with their yuan notes instead. The image above features two lions and a pair of red and black stamps on the front, and an ornately drawn scene of dragons and lions on the back. Some of these issued notes have punch holes on the right side of the note.
The final Asian country we will be spotlighting is the Chinese territory of Manchukuo, also known as Manchuria. Japan established Manchukuo as a puppet state in what has become known as the “Mukden Incident.” From 1931 to 1945, the nation traded with China, but the League of Nations issued the Lytton Report in 1933, which maintained that Manchukuo was still part of mainland China, which prompted Japan to depart from the league.4 Manchukuo stood on its own through World War II, until the final month of the war, August 1945, when the Soviets invaded and occupied the nation after many Manchurian soldiers surrendered. The nation was then reintegrated back into China in 1946.
Prior to the Mukden Incident, the region used both tael and yuan banknotes. During its time as a Japanese puppet state, Manchurian currency often featured Qing Dynasty rulers, and was issued in denominations of 5, 10, and 50 fen, 5 chiao, and 1, 5, 10, 100, and 1,000 yuan banknotes. One banknote (China Pick# J133) even included the image of the philosopher Confucius. The Central Bank of Manchukuo began by issuing 1, 5 and 10 yuan notes with a red overprint (China Pick# J120-122), but their first full issue in 1932 included four yuan notes featuring the nation’s flag, including the above image, which is the 1 yuan note.
In conclusion, world politics has been fraught with war, and the struggle for autonomy can be evidenced simply by looking at a nation’s currency. As you build your collection, maybe the anomalies of nationhood have intrigued you, because if so, there are many more currencies of countries defunct and forgotten for a curious mind to discover and collect.
1. http://narendralutherarchives.blogspot.com/2006/12/nizam-and-radio.html 2. Hilton, Isabel. (2012). The Search for the Panchen Lama. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, pg. 112. 3. Shrestha, Bhupendra Narayan. (1987). Tibetan Paper Currency, Transatlantic Authors Ltd. St. Albans, Herts. U.K. 4. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1506.html
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