From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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The Money is an item in the PC release of Mario's Time Machine. It is the currency used in Luoyang circa 105. After Mario travels back in time to that era, he receives the Money after entertaining the reigning emperor, Ho Ti, with a Firecracker. He then uses it to bribe a nearby paper dryer, who is only willing to explain to Mario how they manufacture paper if he is given some money. After receiving the Money, he gladly takes it and begins to explain the process to Mario, as well as Ts'ai Lun's plans (which are supposed to be a well-guarded secret).