The days when 6 billion yuan bought you 77 grains of rice

Visitors can learn why and more about Chinese business history through ancient coins, tax stamps, insurance policies, calculating tools and other exhibits at a new museum.
Yang Meiping / SHINE
Yang Meiping / SHINE

One high value note — for 6 billion yuan. It was released in May 1949, but it was then only good for buying the equivalent of 77 rice grains. 

A museum of business was unveiled at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics yesterday.

It displays China’s history in commercial educational development, its currency, tax stamps, insurance policies and other bills, as well as various calculating tools.

The currency pavilion has a spectacular exhibit in China, a bill valued at 6 billion yuan (US$916 million if it were worth that today) on display. It was released in May 1949, but it was only good for buying the equivalent of 77 grains of rice at that time.

To mark the university’s 100th birthday, the three-floor museum has a pavilion on its first floor showcasing the development of the university.

It was first established as a commerce department by a Nanjing government teachers college in 1917 and relocated in Shanghai as the Shanghai College of Commerce in 1921, becoming the origin of all later Chinese institutions of higher education in business.

Admission letters, graduation certificates and textbooks are all displayed to show how business education has developed in China.

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Visitors at the pavilion telling the university's history

Among them, the insurance pavilion exhibits more than 300 documents, including some from Canton Insurance Society, the first foreign invested insurance company in China. It was established in 1805 in Guangzhou by British merchants.

The currency pavilion contains more than 300 ancient coins as well as modern Chinese currency and money from 196 countries.

Yang Meiping / SHINE

An insurance ad signed by the KMT's Chiang Kai-shek

Yang Meiping / SHINE

A visitor takes a picture at the insurance pavilion.

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Stockings with tax stamps

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Visitors look at various abacus machines

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