Red Envelopes of Silver Banks
Red Envelopes of Tong Bao Firm- A major silver bank in Kunmin of Yunnan Province during the Kuang Hsu period (1875-1908).
It is well known that "Red Envelopes" have been a part of the celebration of the Chinese New Year for at least several centuries. Most people do not realize that Chinese silver banks frequently used these envelopes as a professional courtesy in their everyday business, not just for New Year's.
Chinese silver banks used "Red Envelopes" to hold deposit slips issued to clients as a certificate of saving, and as a way to thank those clients for their business.
The design of a silver bank's red envelope usually contained certain words of blessing in a nice calligraphy, such as 吉祥 "Ji Hsiang" (Luck & Peace) and 仁壽 "Zen Shou" (Benevolence & Longevity), as shown on the specimens pictured above.
The color "Red" in China had historically symbolized "Luck", "Flourishing" and many other good things, and it still has a strong positive connotation for modern Chinese. Banks in Taiwan color their deposit slips red, and positive movements of Taiwan's security index are shown in red, which is different from the western practice of showing upward movements in green.
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