Marco Polo Discovered Paper Money?
Marco Polo was a merchant, explorer and writer who travelled through Asia along the famous Silk Road between 1271 and 1295. He made The Book of Travels.
At the time, Europeans didn't know much about Asia. They have never had a detailed look into the lives of people in China, Persia, India, and many other places Marco Polo visited. Other people before Marco Polo went to these places, but he was the first to document it.
Marco discovered many new forms of money during his travels. So, they were all brand-new concepts for Europeans. He noted the shape and size of the paper money, the use of seals that made them official, the various denominations, and even the use of salt and shells as money.
Out of all his discoveries, Europeans didn't believe that China was using paper money, and Marco Polo was made fun of for this discovery. They thought it was too stupid to be true. But it was true, as we know, because we currently use paper money! (The oldest paper money was discovered in caves, dating back over a thousand years).
Below are three journal entries he wrote on the paper money he discovered in China. The seals that make them "valuable," the punishments for forging them, and how the Emperor monopolized industries by being the only person allowed to pay merchants from other countries.
He did this because if he didn't, the citizens could accumulate gold, silver, gems or pearls, making his paper money worthless again. This equivalent is happening today with Bitcoin.
"All these pieces of paper are issued with as much solemnity and authority as if they were of pure gold or silver; and on every piece a variety of officials, whose duty it is, have to write their names, and to put their seals."
"Anyone forging it would be punished with death. And the Khan causes every year to be made such a vast quantity of this money, which costs him nothing, that it must equal in amount all the treasure of the world."
"Furthermore all merchants arriving from India or other countries, and bringing with them gold or silver or gems and pearls, are prohibited from selling to any one but the emperor. He has twelve experts chosen for this business, men of shrewdness and experience in such affairs; these appraise the articles, and the emperor then pays a liberal price for them in those pieces of paper."