The coupons collector

Updated: 2014-03-26 09:48

By Li Yang (China Daily)

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The coupons collector

Li shows off a 1961 ration coupon for buying an iron cooking pot. Lan Lin / China Daily

Many people have never seen a rationing coupon, which was used in China from 1953 to 1993. Li Santai shares the memories that come with his collection of 50,000 of these coupons with Li Yang.

The coupons collector

Postal museum showcases history 

The coupons collector

Old items from Republic of China displayed in Nanjing 

Li Santai is famous in Liuzhou city of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region for his collection of nearly 50,000 rationing coupons, a hobby he cultivated since the 1960s.

The 77-year-old turned the first floor of his two-story home into a private museum exhibiting his collection for free to "teach the young to treasure their happy life today".

Rationing coupons were issued by authorities of various fields and different levels in China in 1953 amid serious material shortage, and were abolished completely in 1993. The coupons cover all daily necessities, from a needle to a drop of edible oil, except the booklet of Chairman Mao's Quotations.

After capturing the market reform signal from Beijing in 1977, Li decided to quit his job as a salesman in a local bamboo ware factory and started his own grocery store. He became one of the first legal private businessmen in Liuzhou.

"Working for the factory supply and marketing cooperative was considered a good job at that time, because I could enjoy the freedom of traveling around the country on business trips and saw a bigger world," says Li. "In the time of limited information, more experiences mean wealth."

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