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 Swedish Krona

Sweden is a Scandinavian country situated in northern Europe. It is one of those very few countries who despite being a member of the European Union did not join the Eurozone and retained its national currency- the Krona (SEK). Swedes seemed to be too proud of their Krona to adopt a shared currency with the other European countries. A majority of the Swedes rejected the proposal to adopt the Euro back in November, 2003 in a referendum. Since then, many unofficial public surveys have showed the ever decreasing number of Swedes ready to accept Euro. This is why we have prepared a list of interesting facts about (in English it means Crown).

  1. The Swedish Krona came into use in 1873 when the Swedish government entered into a monetary agreement with the governments of Norway and Denmark which is known as the Scandinavian Monetary Union. Before that the Swedish currency was known as Riksdaler. After the formation of the Union, the three member countries issued Krona currency based on the gold standard. The Union continued up to the outbreak of the World War I. After the outbreak of the Great War, the Monetary Union was dissolved but the member countries continued to use the name Krona as their currency. This Union from the 19th century showed that the Swedes were not always against a transnational currency system!
  2. The Swedish Krona is theoretically subdivided into 100 ore. But the ore ceased to exist in reality when the authority decided against their further circulation in September, 2010. Actually the cost to produce the ore coins exceeded their face value and this led the Swedish government’s decision to discontinue them.
  3. The central bank of Sweden is known as Riksbank. Riksbank is responsible for the issue of Krona notes and coins.
  4. Until 1902, gold coins were issued in Sweden. However, they failed to maintain the gold standard after that point of time and various other metals have been used so far to strike the coins such as silver, bronze, aluminum, etc.
  5. At present, coins of 1 Krona and 2, 5, and 10 Kronor are in circulation.
  6. The Kronor coins generally bear the image of the reigning Swedish monarch on the obverse and the reverse carry the value of the coins.
  7. The 5 and 10 Kronor coins are made of Nordic Gold- an alloy metal made of copper, aluminum, zinc, and tin. The other coins are made of copper-plated steel.
  8. The Swedish banknotes come in different denominations. At present, banknotes are available of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 Kronor.
  9. The various Kronor currency notes carry the images of several famous Swedish personalities over the time. This included the image of Greta Garbo on the 100 Kronor banknote and Ingmar Bergman on the 200 Kronor banknote which were issued in 2015.
  10. There is an increase in the use of e-wallet among the Swedes in the recent years. This led to a drastic downfall in the cash transactions and the circulation of banknotes and coins.

10 interesting facts about Chilean Pes

Chile is one of the leading economic powers of South America. It is a long strip of land sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean on the western verge of the South American continent. The territory also included some Pacific islands such as Desventuradas, Salas y Gomez, etc. The economic stability of the nation is reflected in the relative high standard of living of its citizens. And this is why we will have a look at some of the must-known facts about the Chilean currency- the Peso (CLP).

  1. The Peso was first introduced in 1817 during the last years of the Spanish colonial rule. At that time, Peso was pegged to the Spanish currency and placed on the gold standard.
  2. The Banco Central de Chile controlled the circulation of the Peso. Though the Peso is allowed to float freely in the market, the Central Bank retained some control to counter the excessive depreciation of the currency which the Central Bank exercised on some occasions.
  3. The Peso continued to be the currency of Chile up to 1960 when it was replaced by a new currency- the Escudo. However, the Peso made a comeback in 1975 and it remained as the Chilean currency till then.
  4. The Peso is theoretically subdivided into 100 centavos. In reality, however, centavo coins ceased to exist long ago. Even some low denomination Peso coins are also hard to find.
  5. Some of the coins issued in the early and mid-19th century were made of gold and silver. Increasingly these coins were replaced by coins made of more cheap metals such as copper, nickel and alloys such as cupro-nickel.
  6. Gold coins were issued as late as 1926. They were of higher denominations- 20, 50, and 100 Peso.
  7. When the escudo was introduced in 1960, the value of the old Peso was determined as 1 escudo= 1000 Peso. I escudo was further subdivided into 100 centesimos. Centesimo coins were issued in bronze and bronze-aluminum alloy. The reintroduction of Peso in September, 1975 saw the replacement of the Escudo and the value of the new Peso was determined as 1 Peso= 1000 Escudo.
  8. Chile was ruled by a military junta between 1973 and 1990. During the rule of the junta, Peso coins bear the image of a woman who is depicted as recently being freed from her chains. The coins also carry the inscription- LIBERTAD and the date of the military coup on the obverse.
  9. After the restoration of the republic in 1990, a new design was adopted with the figure of the legendary Chilean freedom fighter Bernardo O’Higgins on the obverse.
  10. In 2008, the Chilean mint issued a series of new 50 Peso coins bearing a wrong spelling of the name of their country. Instead of CHILE, it was spelt as CHIIE. In the following year, this mistake made national headlines and Gregorio Iniguez, the general manager of the mint was forced to resign. However, these coins with the wrong spelling became an instant hit among the numismatists!


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.