The History Of Money

History of paper money with interestings facts, like Yap money stones that can weigh up to 500 pounds.

People did not always use money. They traded goods and services for what they needed. This is called bartering. You might have bartered and not known that you did it. As a child, did you ever trade baseball cards with a friend? Do you swap babysitting services now with friends? Do you take turns driving the kids to school, or going to work? Then you have bartered.

Bartering was not always the best system. There were inherent problems built into the system. What if you wanted food and you had nothing that the trader wanted? People began to use tokens that had the same value to everyone.

Early money changed in form from place to place. People traded salt, leaves, and seeds. Ancient Africans used cowrie shells. Some Native Americans used wampum. Wampum is polished shells strung together as a necklace or belt. To make buying simpler, people began using metals to make money. Gold, silver, and copper were hard to find, and the more scarce a product is, the more valuable it is. Because it was valuable to everyone, it was a good thing to make money out of.



The first metal money was used about 4500 years ago in Egypt. Use of metal money then began to spread through Europe and the Middle East. Then about 1800 years ago, the Chinese invented paper. They began making money out of paper. The paper represented an amount of money, and could be redeemed for something valuable, like gold.

There are now about 140 different kinds of money used in the world. When you go to other countries, you usually have to exchange your money for their kind of money at a bank before you can buy anything. Money varies greatly in appearance from country to country.

On Yap Island in the Pacific Ocean, money is a stone with a hole in the middle. The people on Yap Island put a long pole inside the hole in the stone and roll it from place to place. Yap money stones can weigh up to 500 pounds and are sometimes 12 feet across.

Ancient temples or churches were the first banks. Temples were the safest place to store money. People thought that no one would steal money from a place of worship. Temples exchanged money from other cities, and some temples even made loans.

Then travel between cities began to grow, and people began to trade more freely with other cultures. Some traders began to pay people to exchange coins from other cities, and they took a fee from the money they exchanged. These people were called moneychangers. They were the very first bankers.

Money has evolved over time for our convenience. A lot of people don't even use actual cash money any longer. They now have credit cards so that they do not have to carry cash. ATM cards let people pay for things by drawing money directly from their bank account. Soon metal coins and paper money may be a thing of the past. Everyone may begin to only carry cards that represent money.

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