Determining old Chinese non-circulating paper money’s authenticity using μ-Raman and MA-XRF spectroscopies

by Marina Bicchieri, Paola Biocca, Claudia Caliri, Filip Vostal, Ludek Vostal, Francesco Paolo Romano

Paper money was first used in China as early as the sixth century AD. Since that time, counterfeits have circulated in parallel with authentic paper money. After WWII the interest of art collectors in historical emergency paper money surged and counterfeiting became a complex phenomenon. In fact, the use of scientific investigation for determining the authenticity of historical paper money is still limited to few cases. In this work nine pieces of Chinese paper money (from the fourteenth to nineteenth century) were investigated by combining non-invasive MA-XRF imaging and Raman spectroscopy. Analytical results on the paper money demonstrated how the complementary use of both non-invasive techniques can provide an excellent tool for discriminating modern materials from historical ones, allowing us to identify seven counterfeits in the set of nine investigated paper moneys.

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