Ancient Chinese Currencies

China, the Asian super-giant is marking its presence in every sphere of global politics, economics, sports, culture and several other fields for some decades. However, China was a resourceful country in the past too. The ancient and mediaeval Chinese Empires known as the Middle Kingdom in their history was no less influential in ancient polity. In those days, India, China, and Turkey dominated the global politics and European powers were mostly marginalized. The tide changed only with the Great divergence in Europe in the 17th and 18th century. We will discuss here some of the interesting facts about Chinese currency systems in ancient and mediaeval age when China was in its full glory.

Chinese issued the first recorded instances of banknotes back in 2nd century BCE. The notes were made of white deerskin and measured approximately 1 sq. foot each. It was also the Chinese who introduced the paper currency in the world of trade and commerce. The first instance of issuing a paper currency is from 9th century CE China.

The main medium of exchange for the ancient Chinese was copper coins. Almost all the dynasties issued copper coins of various shapes and sizes. The shape of some of these coins was very unusual. They included coins issued in the shape of knives and spades. The spade shaped coins were first used in the early part of the Han dynasty, and the design was later imitated by several other dynasties in the subsequent years.

Along with the notes and the coins, several other forms of currency were also used extensively in the rural areas. These included the extensive use of cowry shells by a large number of ordinary Chinese. Cowry shells were first used in China as a medium of exchange in the 3rd millennium BCE. To counter the limited number of natural cowry shells, artificial cowry shells made of bone, bronze, and even stone were issued on many occasions. Cowry shells made of bronze can be considered as bronze coins. They were issued during the “Warring States” of porno mexicano period (475-221 BCE). These coins had some strange figures inscribed on them such as the face of a monster or an ant.

Gold coins were also not rare in ancient China. The first dynasty to issue gold coins was the Chu dynasty. These gold coins carried the inscription “Ying Cheng”; where Ying denoted the capital of the Chu state and Cheng was the monetary unit. The coins were round in shape and contained a square hole in the middle.

Coins with such holes in the middle were abundant in ancient China. The Ban Liang coins which became the legal tender of the united China in 3rd century BCE had similar square holes in the middle. However, some of the coins carried round holes in the middle instead of square holes.

All these coins were minted following the indigenous Chinese technology. It was only in the late-19th century that the Chinese state introduced minting in a western style. They brought some minting machines from Britain and cast some copper and silver coins from the mint of Guangzhou.

Interesting Facts about the Euro

In the arena of international trade and commerce the importance of the European countries never declined since the early days of the capitalist economy i.e. roughly from the 16th century. Certainly they faced major setbacks with the emergence of the United States of America in the twentieth century. Still the importance of the European economies is immense in the capitalist world order. The Euro is the common currency of several of these countries. Here we have prepared a list of 12 must-be-known facts about the Euro.

  1. Talks about a common currency for all the European countries were in the air since the 1970s. It was the result of the long process of drawing a common European economic space which started after the conclusion of the World War II with active American assistance. One of the major steps was taken in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht which laid down certain rules for the member countries to follow in order to be included in the club of the countries using the Euro.
  2. Before the physical circulation of the Euro, it was introduced as a medium of electronic payments in 1st January, 1999. The first notes of Euro came into circulation in 1st January, 2002.
  3. It was introduced in 12 countries at the first instance. The first countries to adopt Euro were Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, and The Netherlands.
  4. Later several other countries joined the club of Euro users. This included Cyprus, Estonia, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  5. The Euro is denoted by the symbol €. €1 is further divided into 100 cent. The symbol came from the Greek alphabet ‘epsilon’ with two parallel horizontal lines crossing the middle of the alphabet.
  6. Coins of 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, €1, and €2 are available. The reverse of the Euro coins is same throughout the Eurozone. They carried the denomination of the coin and a map of Europe on the reverse. But the obverse is different since the particular issuing country inscribed different symbols according to their choice. However, they can be used in any of the countries recognizing Euro.
  7. The Euro coins are endowed with High-security-machine-readable features in order to avoid the circulation of fake coins. Some of the low valued coins are made of Nordic Gold- an alloy specifically made to construct coins.
  8. The currency notes also come in different denominations starting from €5. The highest value of the currency note in circulation is €500. The denominations are written on the notes in three different scripts- Greek, Roman, and Cyrillic.
  9. The notes of different denominations are printed in different colors. €5 comes in grey, €10 is printed in red, €20 in blue, €50 in orange, €100 in green, €200 in yellow, and €500 comes in purple.
  10. The currency notes are of uniform design across the Eurozone unlike the Euro coins.  The notes of different denominations carry the picture of a particular European building printed on them.
  11. The central authority to supervise the monetary policy according to which the Euro is issued is the European Central Bank (ECB) with its headquarters situated in Frankfurt, Germany. The Eurosystem, a conglomerate of the different central banks of the Euro using countries, supervise the minting, printing, and distribution of the coins and currencies.
  12. The Euro is a greatly valued currency in the global economic sphere. Only the US $ surpasses the € in importance in international trade and currency reserve of different countries.

Interesting Facts about US Dollar

Dollar, the US currency is the most popular and powerful currency in the world. It is considered to be the pride of America. It consists of the cotton linen material which counts as one of the most distinctive features. It is quite contrary to many believers who generally think that the dollar is made from paper. However, besides this, there are certain other things about US Dollar that you need to know. This article endeavours to enlist some of the interesting facts about US Dollars.

  1. The weight of a dollar is only 1 gram. It occupies a space of about 16 square inches. The Americans introduced this currency to the world in the year 1690.
  2. One of the important causes that the money is not made form paper is that paper wears away very easily and costs more. As a result, in order to retain that, the government insists that the money should be made of proper materials. Also, paper currencies cannot be retained as long as the coins which are both recyclable and has a life span of about 30 years. The life span of a $10 bill is about 4 years.
  3. Besides linen, other key ingredients in making of money in USA are ink and cocaine. But it should not lead you to conclude that the money is made of cocaine. Rather, it is to be noted that the 97% of the money in USA has little traces of cocaine.
  4. On an average, $1 dollar bill circulated for about 5.8 years! It represents 45% of the total bill production. Such is the condition of a dollar when it is circulated in various pockets for over years.
  5. There are different name for each dollar in the colloquial American English. For example, twenty dollar is called ‘Double Sawbuck’, a fifty dollar is called ‘Grant’. There are other terms that are variedly used in this context are Franklin, C-Note, Hunsky, Green-Bank and others.
  6. In USA, you can redeem the bills that are ripped but on one condition that you have more than half the portion of the bill.
  7. George Washington’s portrait was used for the first time in the $1 dollar note in 1869.
  8. The two dollar bill in USA was introduced in the year 2003. A lot of people are unaware of the fact that these types of bills do exist!
  9. A lot of five cent dollars were minted between 1942 and 1945 and these do not have nickels in them.
  10. The $100,000 note was printed and it has been credited as the largest note. It was used for transactions of the Federal Reserve bank and was never circulated among the masses.
  11. Martha Washington is the only woman who has appeared in the currency notes. It is quite an interesting fact that there has been no image of any African-American on the US$ notes till now.
  12. A major percentage of the notes in USA are contaminated with bacteria. Some even consist of pathogens that are potentially dangerous.

Interesting Facts about Numismatics

One of the important methods to reconstruct our past is the study of coins. The scholarly discipline of studying the ancient coins is known as numismatics. Not only coins, numismatics also includes the study of all sorts of currencies be it paper money, coins, tokens, or other currency of relative significance. This term was taken from the French word ‘numismatiques’, which was again derived from the Latin word ‘numismatis’. This article enlists some interesting facts about numismatics.

  1. The first city in the world to mint its own gold coins was Florence, situated in Italy. This significant event took place in 1252.
  2. In Britain, the oldest Roman coin was found which was about 2,224 year old. This coin was minted in 211 BC. On one side of the coin, there is the image of Goddess Roma while the other side have the image of mythical twin horses Pollux and Castor.
  3. In the present time, collecting old coins is a hobby of a lot of people across the globe. But in ancient time, it was considered as a royal hobby. Coins were collected both by the kings, the queens, and the nobles.
  4. You can now procure the old coins on the price of its face value. For example, the cost of coins from the nineteenth century is under ten dollars.
  5. In ancient India, cowrie shells were used as important economic tool instead of coins. These had a great value at that time. In fact, Veda has the earliest reference of coins in India.
  6. In 1940 at Gorky in Russia, there was a rain of silver coins all over the city. This was caused by a Tornado which had lifted an old money chest consisting of silver coins. As the wind carried them on, coins were dropped all over the city.
  7. During the rule of Ming dynasty, China issued the largest currency note in the world. In 1917, Romania issued the smallest bank note in the world.
  8. After a scientific experiment, it has been found that coins do not have any distinctive smell of their own. Rather, the smell that you get from the coins is typical of human body odour. You get the smell of iron which your skin releases after oil is secreted from your body after touching the metal.
  9. The largest numismatic organization in the world is American Numismatic Association that was founded in 1891. This Association has the largest circulating numismatic material in the world. It’s headquarter includes the World Money Museum.
  10. Numismatics, or the study of coins began during the European Renaissance. It was a part of the effort to re-discover everything classical.
  11. In 1962, the first international conference for coin collectors was organized at Michigan. It was sponsored by American Numismatic Association and attracted almost 400,000 coin collectors from across the globe.
  12. You can buy coin collections directly from the mint. There are large catalogues filled with details of coins and sets and other information that might readily interest any coin collector. Although it will take some price more than that of the face value, the possession shall still be worth it.

Interesting Facts about Ancient Roman Coins

The Roman Empire lasted over a period of about five centuries. Besides keeping back a number of historic wars and other important political events, Rome experienced great economic prosperity under various Emperors. This is evident from the variety of coins they issued throughout the lifespan of the Empire. We have gathered some important facts about the coins of Ancient Rome which you should know.

  1. Roman coins were issued in all the three principal metals- bronze, gold and silver.
  2. These coins were of various sizes. These coins were valued on the basis of their weight. The earliest of the Roman coins discovered was made of bronze and it was issued around 269 BC.
  3. These coins were minted in over 40 different cities. The name of the mint in Rome was Juno Monet and it is from here, that the term ‘money’ came into being.
  4. Similarly, the term ‘coin’ came from the word ‘consecratio’ which was issued by the Emperor in order to pay homage or tribute to their deceased family members.
  5. The ancient Roman gold coins were called Aurei which contained about 95% of pure gold. The silver coins were called Denarius, which consisted of 85% silver.
  6. The copper coins were known as As which was stamped on one side carrying the image of the beak of a ship. Two types of silver coins were Denarius Sestertius and Denarius Victoriatus. Some other notable silver coins were Smebella, Teruncius and Libella. Libella has the same value as that of the As. The principal gold coin was Aureus Denarius.
  7. Roman coins bear the name of the issuing emperor. We find a lot of emperors issuing coins in their names. Some of the famous emperors were Constantine, Marcus Antonius, Septimius Severus. Some of the Roman coins also included women in the impressions. These were of Antonia, Valeria Messalina, Cleopatra Selene and also many of the daughters of the ancient Roman leaders.
  8. At first, the portraits of Pagan Gods and Goddesses were used by the Romans in their coins. This idea was copied from the Greeks. Later on, they started to put impressions of buildings on the coins. Symbols like stars and eagles were also used in the coins. In order to make an emperor popular, the images of the kings were also used in the coins.
  9. Rome was one of the most powerful political as well as economic powers of the ancient world. Romans had trading connections with ancient India, Iran, Mediterranean world and northern Africa. Thus, in the archaeological excavations a large number of Roman coins have been unearthed from various parts of the aforementioned areas.
  10. The ancient Roman coins are prized possessions for the modern collectors. Thus, a large number of forged coins are circulated in the market. You can only differentiate between a fake and real ancient Roman coin with the help of a test kit. Some of the important fake symbols of the coins include incorrect marks of the mint, wrong lettering on the coins and variation on the thickness in the coins. You can also detect the fake coins from the original one collected from a reliable source.

Interesting Facts about the British Pound

The pound sterling, as is well known, is the currency of the United Kingdom which covers the area of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. At present, it is the oldest existing currency in the world. The heyday of the British pound was during the 19th century and the early-20th century. With the gradual fall of the British Empire and the rise of the United States of America and its currency US$, the importance of the British pound declined too in the international market. However, the British economy is still one of the largest in the world and pound sterling is a highly valued currency. We have gathered some interesting facts about the British currency which you should know.

  1. The symbol £ is used to denote the pound sterling. The symbol came from the Latin alphabet ‘L’ which stands for Libra- the Latin for pound.
  2. Apart from the United Kingdom, several overseas territories of Britain also used the GBP (£). This included but not limited to Isle of Man, Jersey, and Bailiwicks of Guernsey.
  3. Before 1971, the pound sterling was not a decimalized currency system.
  4. Before 1971, £ 1 was divided into 20 shillings and it was again divided into 12 pennies. Well, this was not the end. A penny was further divided into 4 farthings. The worth of a farthing was so little that it became practically obsolete in 1961.
  5. The pound sterling system was reformed and decimalized on 15th February, 1971. £ 1 was divided into 100 pence. As a result of this most of the old coins were demonetized and ceased to be legal tenders. It also simplified the currency system.
  6. The pound banknotes are printed under the supervision of several authorities. In England, the Bank of England; in Scotland the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland, and the Clydesdale Bank issue the banknotes. The Bank of England notes are also used in the Wales.
  7. The largely circulated pound sterling notes are of denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100.
  8. However, there are also Giants and Titans. These are the £1 million pound and £100 million pound notes respectively. They are apparently not for the use of the ordinary masses. The Giants and Titans are held by the note issuing banks of Scotland and Northern Ireland as a guarantee for the notes they issued in pound sterling currency.
  9. The front of the banknotes carries a portrait of the reigning monarch. The back of the notes also carry the images of famous British personalities from the past. So far many famous Britons have adorned the back of the pound sterling notes including William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Arthur Wellesley, Michael Faraday, Charles Dickens, etc.
  10. The pound sterling coins come in several denominations such as 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2.
  11. On several occasions commemorative coins have been issued. A special commemorative 25p coin was issued in 1981 to celebrate the wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.