Excerpted from China Imperial Maritime Customs, Special Series: Silk

  • 1
    Your link doesn't show the page itself for context, but my guess would be Taels – justCal Apr 10 '18 at 1:59
  • This is about right: division says one of the unknown currency units = 6.5 francs, which in 1881 (says historicalstatistics.org/Currencyconverter.html ) was worth about 34 grams of silver, which en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tael says was worth about one tael of silver. – kimchi lover Apr 10 '18 at 2:13
  • @justCal I updated link for context. There are other occurrences of "taels", which are fully spelled out and not in this form; also the Wikipedia page doesn't mention a symbol like that, so I think this is probably not the case. – Virgil Ming Apr 10 '18 at 2:15
  • @kimchilover The numbers do match as you mentioned, but is there any other source that can confirm this? This symbol seems come out of nowhere. – Virgil Ming Apr 10 '18 at 2:18
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    @virgil Searching elsewhere in the book for "tael" gives many instances of the currency "Haikwon tael" sometimes abbreviated "Hk. X" where X is that funny symbol, giving western equivalents, all consistent with the result of the division, and what's in en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Haikwan_tael , if you figure the monetary value is equal to the weight of silver. – kimchi lover Apr 10 '18 at 2:50

As justCal suggested, the symbol in question is a ligature of Tls, used as a unit of currency, the value of one tael's weight of silver. The Reports on Trade at the Treaty Ports in China for the year 1870 has many instances of un-ligatured "Tls", the word "Taels", the ligatured form of "Tls", all in contexts making it clear they are used synonymously. If you search about in that book for "tls" you will find instances of amounts like "Haikwon Tls. 1,496,", unligatured, and elsewhere tabulations headed with currency labels, in some places just the ligature, and in other places "Hk. Tls. m.c.c" with Tls ligatured, and figures like "68,873.4.3.7" underneath. The tenth part of a tael is a mace, the 100th part is a candareen and the 1000th part is a cash (see, eg, this); I surmise the m.c.c. refers to these fractions, much as L.s.d. refers to pounds and their fractional parts, shillings and pence in English financial tabulations.

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