Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) has certified a rare, high-denomination banknote from the early years of the People’s Republic of China. The 1951 10,000 Yüan note is attributed as Pick 858Aa (Pick refers to the catalog numbers originally developed by Albert Pick and used by the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money) and graded PMG AU 50.
Pick 858Aa is considered to be the rarest type of all 1951 First Series Renminbi (RMB). Only 100 examples of this note are believed to still exist, according to the census in the 2013 edition of People’s Republic of China Paper Money Collection Catalog by Kang Yongjie.
Furthermore, this type isn’t even listed in the seminal work Chinese Banknotes by Smith and Matravers, published in 1970.
Due to its scarcity, Pick 858Aa was not widely known even to specialists prior to this spectacular example being certified by PMG. The note recently graded PMG AU 50 is tied with one other as the finest PMG-certified example of this variety.
Known as “Running horses”, the 10,000 Yüan note was issued on May 17, 1951, and was withdrawn on April 1, 1955. The primary area of circulation was the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Located in the northern region bordering Mongolia, it is China’s third largest region, representing 12% of its total land area (457,000 square miles). The total population of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in 1955 was a little over six million people.
At the time, China had a population of almost 600 million people. The reasons for the scarcity of the 1951 10,000 Yüan notes are threefold.
First, the paper and printing are relatively poor quality.
Second, the high denomination is not one that would be saved by the average person, particularly after the notes were withdrawn. 10,000 Yüan would be 65,000 Yüan in today’s currency, or approximately $10,000 (USD).
Third, the original print run was likely very limited because Inner Mongolia represented only 1% of the country’s population. The combination of these three factors resulted in a very low population available to collectors today.
Not surprisingly, the 1951 10,000 Yüan is highly coveted by collectors today. Examples are seldom sold and usually achieve extraordinary prices when they are sold. The value for this PMG AU 50 piece, which is tied for finest certified by PMG, is anyone’s guess. This note will surely be the cornerstone of any Chinese banknote collection.
“We chose PMG to grade this precious note because PMG is recognized and respected around the world for its expertise,” says Kelvin Cheung of Spink. “We are very pleased with the outcome.”