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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Is a standard or international currency


So

the yearly drain of silver coin from Teheran as soon as it is minted is very considerable, especially to the north, north-east and north-west provinces. This coin does not circulate but is almost entirely absorbed and never reappears, the people themselves holding it, as we have seen, as treasure, and huge quantities finding their way into Transcaspia and eventually into Afghanistan, where Persian coin is current and at a premium, especially on the border land.

In Transcaspia Persian coin is cherished because the nominally equivalent Persian coin contains a much larger quantity of silver than the Russian. Russian silver is a mere token of currency, or, at best, stands midway between a token and a standard or international currency, and its difference when compared with the Persian coin amounts to no less than 21.92 per cent. in favour of the Persian. Persian coin, although defective and about 2 per cent. below legal weight and fineness, is a standard or international currency.

It appears that a good deal of the silver exported into Transcaspia finds its way to Chinese Turkestan, where it is converted into bars and ingots, and is used for the inland trade to China. The Russian Government have done all in their power to prevent the competition of Persian and Russian coins in their Transcaspian provinces. A decree was issued some eleven years ago forbidding the importation, and in 1897 a second Ukase further prohibited

foreign silver from entering the country after the 13th of May (1st of May of our calendar), and a duty of about 20 per cent. was imposed on silver crossing the frontier. All this has resulted in silver entering the provinces by smuggling instead of openly, but it finds its way there in large quantities just the same as before.

The Government of Persia does not issue bank-notes, which would be regarded with suspicion among the people, but it is interesting to find that the monopoly granted to the Imperial Bank of Persia for the issue of paper money has had excellent results, in Teheran particularly, where the Bank is held in high esteem and the notes have been highly appreciated. In other cities of Persia which I visited, however, the notes did not circulate, and were only accepted at the Bank's agencies and in the bazaar by some of the larger merchants at a small discount.

Naturally, with the methods adopted by Persians, and the insecurity which prevails everywhere, the process of convincing the natives that a piece of printed paper is equivalent to so many silver krans, and that the silver krans will surely be produced in full on demand is rather a slow one; but the credit of the Imperial Bank and the popular personality of Mr. Rabino, the manager, have done much towards dispelling the suspicions, and since 1890 the notes have assumed a considerable place in the circulation. In September 1890 the circulation of them amounted to 29,000 tomans; in 1895 it had gradually increased to 254,000 tomans, and by leaps and bounds had reached the sum of 1,058,000 in 1900.[1] It is rather curious to note that in the previous year, 1899, the note circulation was 589,000 tomans, and became very nearly double in the following twelve months.


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