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THESIS REVIEW: PRINTING CHINA'S GOLD BY MARK DAVID MILLER
Loren Gatch of the University of Central Oklahoma submitted this review of Mark David Millerís 2007 thesis Printing Chinaís Gold: The American Bank Note Company and the Customs Gold Units of 1930. -Editor
Not only does the Internet keep in circulation books long out of print, it also makes available material that might remain unpublished. Case in point is Mark David Millerís "Printing Chinaís Gold: The American Bank Note Company and the Customs Gold Units of 1930" (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2007).
In his Masterís thesis, Miller, recounts how the Chinese government in the late 1920s sought to fortify its finances in order to handle its burdensome foreign debt. Key to the problem was the worldwide depreciation of silver, the metal in which Chinaís import duties were denominated. Based on the advice of Edwin Walter Kemmerer of Princeton University, the renowned "money doctor"Ē whose financial advice was sought by many governments, China created its own central bank and introduced a gold-backed instrument, the "Customs Gold Unit" (CGU), with which import duties would be paid. Printed initially by the American Bank Note Company, CGUs soon served as a parallel medium for financial transactions alongside Chinaís traditional tael and other local currencies. This reform not only matched Chinaís tariff revenue with its international gold-denominated liabilities, but also put the country on the road towards monetary and financial modernization.
Alas, while CGUs were used through 1949, conflict with Japan and then the Chinese civil war put a brake on these reforms. What is distinctive about Millerís work is that he makes extensive use of correspondence acquired by Arthur Morowitz at auction from the American Bank Noteís archives to explore the relationship between a private bank note printer and a sovereign central bank. A banknote collector himself, Miller shows how collaboration between collectors and academics enriches our understanding of both numismatic and financial history.
As a Masterís thesis, Millerís work is a quick read (chapter 8 in particular focuses on ABNC). But the appendices alone are worth a look for the detail they give into ABNCís role in this remarkable undertaking. A full copy can be downloaded from ProQuestís Dissertation Abstracts at any decent academic library. Otherwise, I would be happy to email a copy to anybody (naturally, under "fair use" guidelines). Write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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