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“I’ll trade you a shark’s tooth for your seeds”

Money doesn’t have to be paper bills and metal coins. People have used many different things for money – everything from shark’s teeth to stone wheels bigger than an elephant.

Before money was invented, people traded with each other for goods and services. A farmer might trade a chicken to the doctor for medical services. But what if you’re the only doctor in town and all your patients want to pay you in chickens? Trading has its disadvantages.

500 lb Coin
Money is anything a group of people will accept as payment. People have accepted seeds, seashells, rocks, beads, feathers and many other things as payment. The heaviest money ever was the stone wheels used by the people of Yap, a Pacific Island – they were 12 feet tall and weighed more than 500 pounds. (You can bet they didn’t start the sporting events with a coin toss!)


King Invented Coins
People first began to use lumps of metal as money thousands of years ago. They chose rare and valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper, which were soft enough to shape into small pieces.

Coins were first invented around 700 years B.C., in the part of the world where Turkey is now. The coins were weighed and marked with pictures of bulls and lions to show how much they were worth.

The king who invented coins was named Croesus. He was so wealthy that, even today, a very wealthy person is said to be “as rich as Croesus.”


Off with Your Head!
Unlike coins, paper money has no value itself, but it is accepted because it represents something that is valuable.

The Chinese were the first to use paper money. As early as 1275 A.D., the Chinese Emperor stamed sheets of black mulberry paper with his royal seal. The money was about as big as a piece of notebook paper. Even then, counterfeit money as a problem. There was a notice on the mulberry paper bank-note that the emperor would cut off the head of anyone who made fake copies!




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