People's Bank of China

Discover the banknotes issued between 1948 and 2020!

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First, cross the “Great Wall”!

We are not the first, nor the last to trace this path, but undertaking the production of a catalog of banknotes issued in China since the dawn of time can prove to be a risky, exhausting and above all interminable undertaking. China alone has a few thousand banknotes that are among the oldest and most emblematic of world banknotes! We could not therefore abandon these banknotes for too long outside of the construction of the general Numizon catalog. But where to start ? Which banknotes? What periods? So, we crossed the “Great Wall” and modestly decided to start with the contemporary period including all the denominations issued between 1948 and 2020, that is 119 banknotes put into circulation by the People's Bank of China (in Chinese:中国人民银行, or in pinyin: Zhōngguó rémín yínháng). For reasons related to the structure of our catalog, we present these 119 banknotes in one and the same category entitled People's Bank of China (1948-2019), although these banknotes are originally divided into clearly identified and presented issues. in the table below:

ReferenceDate of issue
800 > 8101948 Issues
812 > 8541949 Issues
813A, 818, 825.1949 Jiangxi temporary Issues
855 > 8561950 Issues
857 > 858A1951 Issues
8591953 1st Issues
860 > 8721953-1956 Currency Reform Issues
873 > 8801960-1974 Labor Issues
881 > 8891980-1997 Ethnic Minority Issues
8911999 "50th Anniversary of Revolution" Commemorative Issues
895 > 9011999 1st Mao Zedong Issues
9022000 New Millennium Commemorative Issues
903 > 9072005 2nd Mao Zedong Issues
9082008 Olympic Games Commemorative Issues
9102015 Aerospace Science and Technology Commemorative Issues
New: NL72018 70th Anniversary of Renminbi Yuan Currency Commemorative Issues
New: 909, NL1 > NL52015-2019 3rd Mao Zedong Issues

The historical context

Between 1927 and 1950, a civil war between the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tears the country apart, which ultimately sees the victory of the PPC. With the conflict over, there is an urgent need to rapidly unify the liberated areas. On December 1, 1948, the People's Bank of China was established in Shijiazhuang City located in Hebei Province. On the same day, a first series of 10 banknotes (Pick: # 800 to # 810) denominated in Yuan or renminbi (1)was officially put into circulation in order to flood all the regions controlled by the communist power and gradually replace all the existing local broadcasts issued by the Kuomintang government. At the beginning of 1949, upon the proclamation of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Bank's headquarters were relocated to Peiping (now Beijing) and numerous branches were created in the provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. At the end of 1951, the renminbi established itself as the only legal tender in China, with the exception of Taiwan and Tibet. The new monetary policy made it possible to eradicate the plurality of currencies, while putting an end to decades of chronic inflation and played an important role in the recovery of the economy at the very beginning of the construction of the People's Republic of China ...

Between 1949 and 1950, a second issue of 11 banknotes (Pick: # 812 o # 854)of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yuan was put into circulation with an impressive number of 43 single banknotes comprising often different thumbnails for identical values. Thus, including the copies issued in 1948, there are 7 notes of 20 yuan, 6 notes of 50 yuan and up to 9 different notes for the 100 yuan (2)!


Front of 100 yuan Type 1949 (Ref. Pick: # 835). The last and rarest of the 9 types of 100 yuan!

Monetary reform

To fight against persistent inflation, the Chinese government decides to revalue the yuan at a rate of 10,000 old yuan for 1 new yuan! On March 1, 1955, a second series of banknotes was put into circulation (Pick: # 860 to # 872) in order to quickly replace a first series that was too disparate and which had many defects: too much value of the banknotes, poor printing quality , ease of counterfeiting and different reasons for the same denomination. To ensure high-quality printing and to deter any attempt at counterfeiting, some denominations (including 3, 5 and 10 yuan Type 1953) are printed from the Soviet Union. This 1953 series has the particularity of offering both the most common and the rarest banknotes from this period of issue of the People's Bank of China!


Front of 10 yuan Type 1953 (Ref. Pick: # 870). Without doubt the most emblematic of the banknotes of the 1953-1956 Issues!

The third series (1960-1975)

This series features work-enhancing themes, mainly around the agriculture and industry sectors, illustrated in the form of highly stylized classic vignettes and in praise of Chinese Communism (Pick: # 873 to # 880). We present two of these posts in our “News” section (3).


Front of 2 yuan Type 1960 (Ref. Pick: # 875). Not uncommon, but it is the 8th highest ranking Chinese banknote at PMG in 2016!

From 1980 to the present day ...

Between 1980 and 1996, the People's Bank of China issued an original series of 8 banknotes presenting the different ethnic minority groups that make up this great nation: Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs and Zhuang (Pick # 881 to 888). But from 1999, apart from a few commemorative issues, it is the portrait of Mao Zedong that predominates on all the fronts of the latest series in yuan.


Front of 10 yuan Type 1980 (Ref. Pick: # 887). Old Han man and young Mongolian.

Now hope that this presentation may have sparked your desire to explore this first catalog of Chinese banknotes! Good visit...


(1) Wikipedia source: the yuan (in simplified Chinese: 元; pinyin: yuán) or renminbi (simplified Chinese: 人民币; pinyin: rémínbì; litt. "The people's currency"; abbrev. RMB; currency symbol: ¥) is the national currency of the People's Republic of China with the exception of the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao which have their own currencies (respectively the Hong Kong dollar and the pataca).
(2) Pick: 806, 807, 808, 830, 831, 832, 833, 834 and 835!
(3) "The two banknotes of 1 jiao Type 1960 and 1962 ... or the direction of walking!", November 15, 2020.

Our sources

  • “The Banknote Book: China I National” by Owen W. Linzmeyer, page I-161 to I-195.
  • China, People's republic”, Banknote Museum website.
  • Photo credits:, Heritage Auctions, ebay.

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