Today we’ve got a variety of ways to make financial transactions: Online payment, cheques (checks), cash (coins or bills), debit cards, giros (UK), credit cards, bitcoins, Twint, and probably a dozen other ways. But when did it all get started? Why are there ridges or texts on the edges of coins? What did people use before coins were widely spread enough to be a viable means of transaction? I’ve written about the history of shillings before, and ancient payments using hack silver, but the complications that arose across the Atlantic between the British crown and the colonies of America, before they won their independence, is as fascinating as any thriller. It’s a tale of laws passed to stranglehold the colonies into submission or to stop an artery bleed of silver across the ocean, and loopholes and nooks and crannies found to carry on with business anyway.
For a fascinating video on the topic by Jon Townsend, an 18th-century reenactor and specialist with a great YouTube channel, just click on the image below. Enjoy travelling back in time!
Let’s go on a virtual outing! This time, to a Swiss museum located on my doorstep, in Zürich. I can’t imagine a better place to have a museum on that topic.
Have you ever wondered where coins started, or what the history of money is? Look no further. Have you ever wondered what blockchain technology is, or what cryptocurrencies are (and there are over 8 thousand so far!)?
Included in the tour are 5-minute podcasts exploring the topic of money, as well as visual tours of coins throughout time and regions.
Besides the online presence, this museum is also a library and a forum, where people can gather for lectures and discussion groups around the topic of money, finances, markets, etc.
Coins are just one form of payment, but throughout the centuries, different people have put a value on different objects, and trading them became a type of currency: When the Russian currency nosedived in value, vodka became a currency because, in that culture, vodka was the most stable commodity! In other cultures, beads, shells, water gourds, and many other objects have been currency; in another article, I’ve talked about hack silver – jewellery worn with scoring to allow easy division into pieces to trade for goods.
Here’s a quick question for you: Do you know what your money really looks like? We may have handled it dozens of times in a week, but have we ever really stopped to examine it? I remember back when shillings were still valid coinage in Britain – they were used in lieu of 5p pieces; when the new coins came into circulation, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what they’d looked like before! The same goes for banknotes here in Switzerland, which changed to the current design back in 1995. Once a new coin or banknote comes into use, it’s hard to remember what the old ones looked like. Interestingly, some Swiss coins have not changed; I once found a 10-rappen coin in my purse from 1899! It went straight into my coin collection. Since then, I always check my loose change. As a matter of fact, the 10-rappen coin holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest original currency in circulation.
The history and scope of money is a fascinating one, once you scratch below the surface. Click hereto take the virtual tour through the world of money, and enjoy!