Press release: The Paper Currency of Tibet

The Paper Currency of Tibet
A New Book on Tibetan Paper Money
Wolfgang Bertsch: The Paper Currency of Tibet. Gundernhausen near Darmstadt (Germany) and Lalitpur (Nepal), 2012. VI plus 274 pages. ISBN 978-99933-982-7-1

You can order the book from the author: Wolfgang Bertsch

Tibetan banknotes were issued between 1912/13 and 1959. The first series of “Tam” notes was printed by hand with woodblocks on handmade paper. The multicoloured 50 Tam notes and the following issues in “Srang” were machine printed on native papers. All Tibetan notes were numbered by hand by specially trained calligraphists.
Owing to their artistic design Tibetan banknotes can be considered as part of Tibet’s cultural heritage.
This book explores the historical background which led to their issue, the way in which they were produced and the merit of their artisic design.

The first four chapters of the book are dedicated to the paper notes which were printed and released in Lhasa and include a catalogue part with estimated values of the different issues and their variants. The fifth chapter is dedicated ot semi-official notes issued by an Eastern Tibetan monastery, while the last chapter is dealing with banknotes which bear both Chinese and Tibetan inscriptions and were put into circulation by Chinese authorities in the former province of Xikang which comprised parts of Eastern Tibet and Western Sichuan. Ten apendices provide further information for the specialist and an extensive bibliography concludes the book.

The book is profusely illustrated; all types of the banknotes and many variants and trial prints are reproduced in colour.

With this comprehensive study of Tibetan paper money the author has in mind both the more academically inclined reader who wants to be thouroughly informed about one fascinating aspect of Tibet’s cultural history of the 20th century and the collector of Tibetan banknotes who wishes to identify the pieces in his collection and find out their approximate market value.


1. The Printing of the the Notes
2. The Ink and the Paper used for the early Banknotes
3. The Seals on the Banknotes in Tam Denomination
4. The 5 Tam Note
4. The 10 Tam Note
6. The 15 Tam Note
7. The 25 Tam Note
8. The blue 50 Tam Note

1. The Multicoloured 50 Tam Note
2. A 50 Tam Notes with additional bogus red seals
3. The Project Regarding the Issue of a Multicoloured 25 Tam Note
4. Trial Prints for the planned issue of 25 Tam Notes

CHAPTER III The 100 Srang Note
1. The 100 Tam Srang Note
1 A. The 100 Srang Note
1 B. Forgeries of 100 Srang Notes

CHAPTER IV The 10, 5 and 25 Srang Notes
1. The 10 Srang Note
2. The 5 Srang Note
3. The 25 Srang Note.

CHAPTER V The Paper Notes of Tashi Dargyas Monastery

CHAPTER VI Banknotes from Eastern Tibet (former Province of Xikang)
1. The Banknotes of the Provincial Bank of Xikang
2. Banknotes of the Farmers Bank with Tibetan Overprints
3. Notes of the Central Bank of China with Tibetan Overprints
4. A Note from Gansu Province with Tibetan Legends
Bibliography for Chapter VI

Appendix I: From a letter by W.G. Surkhang to H. Richardson, dated Seattle, July 19, 1966
Appendix II: Copy of a letter by Wesley E. Needham to Joseph J. Woodburn, Jr., dated Westhaven, Conn., April 4, 1951
Appendix III: Transcription of the gist of an Interview by Wolfgang Bertsch with Gelong Lobsang Dhonden on 27th Nov. 1998 at Dharamsala
Appendix IV: Extraxts from a letter by D.N.Tsarong to W. Bertsch
Appendix V: Market Values of Tibetan Banknotes
Appendix VI: The Dates found on Tibetan Banknotes.
Appendix VII: The Scripts used on Tibetan Banknotes
Appendix VIII: Tibetan Banknotes with Four Additional
Seal Imprints
Appendix IX Artist who designed the 100 srang Notes
Appendix X: Tibetan Rare Banknotes in Public and Private Collections and from Published Sources

Bibliography of Tibetan Paper Currency and related Items