This notion is corrected by an object that was included in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ Sept. 16-18 auction.
This opaque, light-blue plastic 5-fen token, from China, was issued in 1980. It is intended to be used in Jiangsu Province's Qinhu Leprosy Hospital, which is a northern coastal Chinese province.
This token is one among five that are listed for China in The Numismatic Aspects Of Leprosy by Roger R. McFadden and John Grost. It was published in 1993.
The authors wrote that "The People's Republic of China might be the only country currently using special money to treat its leprosy patients."
The tokens in the section on China were obtained from a Chinese doctor who treated Hansen's disease in 1985.
According to the book, "The tokens... were used in his hospital at that point." "Apparently tokens can be found in other Chinese leprosy hospitals. There are over 800 leprosy hospitals in China. The number of institutions using money substitutes is unknown.
According to documentarian Hong Mengxia, published at SixthTone.com (a website dedicated to sharing stories from China), "As late as 2011, for example, China's national network of leprosy clinics, hospitals, and so-called leprosy villages were home to a total population of about 20,000."
It is not known how many of these patients used substitute money. The firm stated that the token used in the auction was "exceedingly rare".
The token is in Extremely Fine Condition and has a pre-sale value of $400 to $600.