From Salt to Squirrel Pelts: Strange forms of money

In this materialistic world money is one of the most sought after things. There are very few things which money can’t buy and thus, we have seen people, through the ages, fighting bloody, gory wars or exploring unknown lands to possess more and more money. In our common parlance, money is represented by currency notes and coins- coins of precious metals which have their own material value or coins of not-so-precious metals whole value lies in their formal recognition from the governments. However, apart from these common forms, money and more generally wealth has been represented by various other forms through the ages. Some of these things are bizarre; others are so mundane that we can’t even think of them as representing wealth on the first instance. Here we have prepared a list of such things which are not well known as a form of representing wealth from various corners of the world.


Salt was one of the most sought after commodity in ancient world. In ancient times it was not as easily available as it is today. In ancient China, salt was used to pay taxes by the subjects. The Roman state occasionally pays its soldiers in salt. The Latin for salt- “salarium” is the root word of salary. Even in modern times, some nomadic groups from Ethiopia used salt as a medium of barter.

Cowry Shells

Cowry shells were extensively used in various parts of south east Asia, India, China, and eastern Africa as medium of exchange. They were collected from the sea. The Indian subcontinent experienced a demonetization process in the early medieval ages (c. 6th century CE- 11th century CE). Coins became scarce in this period and cowry shells became the main medium of exchange and business. Even in the modern age, Indian merchant community considered cowry shells as auspicious items and linked it to the Hindu goddess of wealth, Laxmi.

Arrowhead coins

These were actually small pieces of bronze cast in the shape of arrowheads. They originated as early as 7th century BCE in the northern shores of the Black Sea. With time, the artisans who produced these pieces acquired some artistic skills and this was reflected in the more sophisticated execution of the arrowhead coins. The later arrowhead coins were produced in shapes like fishes and dolphins.


Peppercorn is one of the most extensively traded spices from the ancient times. At present, the trade in peppercorns accounted almost a quarter of all the spice trade around the world. Peppercorn was highly valued in ancient times. Its value was as high as gold and thus, when the Huns and the Visigoths siege Rome they demanded large quantities of peppercorn as ransom. The trade in peppercorn and other exotic spices from south east and south Asia in the early modern ages was one of the main impetuses behind the formation of large European colonial empires in these regions.

Squirrel Pelts

In medieval Russia and Finland, Squirrel pelts were considered as highly prized possession and extensively used as a medium of exchange. The mass killing of squirrels for their pelts in Russia ironically saved the Russians from the devastating effects of cannabis, the Plague epidemics which were frequent visitors in medieval and early-modern Europe.

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.