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Old 01-08-2017, 02:27 PM   #1
WilliamBoyd8
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Explorer Joseph Rock in China and Tibet 1920 to 1949

Joseph Rock, another real-life Indiana Jones - well sort of ...

Joseph Rock was born in Austria in 1884, moved to the United States in 1905, first to New York and then to Hawaii where he became a self-taught botanist. He then went to China in 1920 and spent most of his time there until 1949 collecting plants and sending them back to colleges and institutes in the United States.

He spent most of his time in the remote areas near Tibet and had to put up with warlords, bandits, and bad food.

Rock wrote articles and provided photographs to the National Geographic magazine, and supposedly his articles formed part of the inspiration for Shangri La in British author James Hilton's 1934 novel Lost Horizon.

In 1928 he met up with Theodore Roosevelt (Jr.) and Kermit Roosevelt who were in China to shoot Pandas. Rock thought that the Roosevelt brothers were living too soft.

Stephanie Sutton wrote a 1974 biography of Joseph Rock, In China's Border Provinces - The Turbulent Career of Joseph Rock which describes his adventures in China.

Sutton's biography is hard to find but some libraries have it.

A Chinese silver dollar of the type Rock used:


Republic of China Dollar 3rd year (1914) Yuan Shih-kai "Fat Man" type
Silver, 38mm, 26.62gm

Rock goes into great detail his problems with Chinese money:

"Every town in Kansu has its own scale for weighing silver and, in addition, they have two kinds of weights, the old and the new weight; the latter are naturally lighter than the old weights. There are in circulation Yuan Shih-kai dollars of the 3rd, 7th, 8th and 9th and 10th year. The third year dollar is the current dollar taken at par. The others of the 7th to the 10th year are all discounted for two reasons: first because Yuan Shih-kai died in the 3rd year of his rule, hence there cannot be a 10th year Yuan Shih-kai; this is a superstitious reason. And, second, all the issues after the 3rd year are a little lighter in weight. If the 3rd year dollar has a scratch or a mark on it it is discounted five cents".

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