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History of Money

  • The oldest form of money is most likely Cattle. Cattle has been used as money as far back as 9000 B.C. Cattle was still used as money in parts of Africa until the middle of the 20th century. Cattle would include not only cows but also sheep, camels, and other livestock

What is money? By definition, it’s something of value.

Facts about Money

  • Cowrie shells where first used in China as a currency. Historically, many societies have used cowries as money, right up to the middle of this century. The cowrie is the most widely and longest used currency in history.
  • The first coins were pieces of bronze shaped like cattle and appeared around 2000 B.C. Their value was determined by their weight, the heavier the coin the more it was worth.
  • Before the invention of paper money, Americans traded animal skins, including deer and elk bucks, for goods and services. Hence the use of the word "buck" to describe money.
  • American Indians used to carry around strings of beads made from clam shells to use as money, which they called wampum. The Indian word "wampum" means white, which was the color of the beads. Wampum was the most common form of money in North America. By 1637, the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared wampum legal tender, which meant it could be used as money.
  • Coins with their value imprinted on them were first produced in Lydia (present day Turkey) around 650 B.C.
  • Around A.D. 806, the Chinese invented and briefly used paper currency, but the first consistent use of paper money was by the French in the 18th century. The Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper money in America in 1690. The colonies would later form the United States. On April 2, 1792, Congress created the U. S. Mint. A month later, land was purchased for its construction in Philadelphia, which was then the nation’s capital. The U.S. Mint produced its first circulating coins — 11,178 copper cents — in March 1793. Soon after, the mint began issuing gold and silver coins.


Your Money

  • As long as 51% of a note or more is retrievable and can be provedWhat happens if your money gets destroyed? The Office of Currency Standards will replace it if you can present to officials 51 percent of the note. If your cash has been burned, torn or otherwise destroyed, they will help you verify and replace that money. The office once received a shotgun in which a man had hidden some money, but forgot and fired the gun. In another case, a farmer sent his cow’s stomach stuffed with money.
  • In 1916, you could get your money laundered for free! If your money was in good enough shape, you could take it to Washington, D.C., where it could be washed, ironed and reissued.
  • Parker Brothers printed more money for its Monopoly games than the Federal Reserve has issued in real money for the United States. If you stacked up all the Monopoly sets made, the pile would be more than 1,100 miles high.
  • The United States Secret Service was originated in 1865 to combat counterfeit money. At the time, as much as one third of all the money in the United States was estimated to be counterfeit. One of the ways the Federal Reserve detects counterfeit bills is to check the iron content of the ink.
  • United States currency is made of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton paper. Red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths are distributed evenly throughout the paper. Prior to World War I, the fibers were made of silk.
  • In 2002, the U.S. Mint produced 14,413,236,610 coins for general circulation.


Fun Facts

  1. A mile of pennies laid out is $844.80. By this standard, America is about $2.5 million wide, coast to coast.
  2. United States currency in circulation before 1929 measured 3.125 inches by 7.4218 inches. In 1929, the size was changed to its current measurement of 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long.
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  4. The approximate weight of a currency note, regardless of denomination is one gram.
  5. There are 454 grams in one pound; therefore, it takes 454 notes to make one pound.
  6. A $1 bill is 0.004375-inch thick. If you placed 1 million of them in a neat square, it would measure about four feet tall, four feet wide and four feet thick. If you stack one million US$1 bills, it would be 110m (361 ft) high and weight exactly 1 ton.
  7. A million dollars’ worth of $100 bills weighs only 10 kg (22 lb).
  8. One million dollars’ worth of one-cent coins (100 million coins) weigh 246 tons.
  9. Do you know the purpose of the ridges on the edges of coins? Without ridges, it is possible to scrape metal off coins without it being obvious. In the days when coins were made of silver or gold, a person could have made a good, but illegal, living from shaving coins and selling the precious metal.
  10. During much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish dollar coin was the unofficial national currency of the American colonies. To make change, the dollar was actually cut into eight pieces or "bits." Thus, came the terms "pieces of eight" from these early times and "two bits" (a quarter) from recent times.
  11. The bison on the Buffalo Nickel was from New York City. Named Black Diamond, this bison lived around the turn of the 20th century in the Central Park Zoo.
  12. The vignette on the reverse of the five-dollar bill depicts the Lincoln Memorial.
  13. You may be aware that, engraved on that Memorial are the names of the 48 states in 1922, which was the year the Memorial was dedicated. There are engravings of 26 State names on front of the building, which appears on the note vignette. As a result, only 26 of the States appear on the note. If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
  14. If you toss a penny 10000 times, it will not be heads 5000 times, but more like 4950. The heads picture weighs more, so it ends up on the bottom.
  15. A quarter has 119 grooves around the edge. A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
  16. On an American one-dollar bill, there is an owl in the upper left-hand corner of the "1" encased in the "shield" and a spider hidden in the front upper right-hand corner.
  17. There are four cars and eleven lightposts on the back of a ten-dollar bill.
  18. The numbers '172' can be found on the back of the U.S. $5 dollar bill in the bushes at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.
  19. Pocahontas appeared on the back of the $20 bill in 1875.
  20. The face of a penny can hold about thirty drops of water.
  21. Money isn't made out of paper, it's made out of linen.
  22. 97% of all paper money in the US contains traces of cocaine.
  23. Every day in the United States, people steal $20,000 from coin-operated machines.
  24. In 75% of American households, women manage the money and pay the bills.
  25. The first coin minted in the United States was a silver dollar. It was issued on October 15, 1794.
  26. The ridges on the sides of coins are called reeding or milling.
  27. Coins usually survive in circulation for about 30 years.
  28. The origin of the dollar sign —$ — has various explanations. Perhaps the most widely accepted is that it is the result of the evolution of the Mexican or Spanish "P’s" for pesos. This theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, explains that the S gradually came to be written over the P, developing a close equivalent to the $ mark. It was widely used even before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785.
  29. In gambling language, for a gambling house a “sure-thing” is a wager that a player has little chance of winning; “easy money” is their profit from an inexperienced bettor, an unlucky player is called a “stiff.”
  30. The term “smart money” refers to gamblers who have inside information or have arranged a fix, the gambling term for insuring the outcome of an event by illegal methods. Small-time gamblers who place small bet in order to prolong the excitement of a game are called “dead fish” by game operators because the longer the playing time, the greater the chances of losing.
  31. The term “Blue Chip” comes from the color of the poker chip with the highest value, blue.
  32. In 1932, when a shortage of cash occurred in Tenino, Washington, USA, notes were made out of wood for a brief period. The wood notes came in $1, $5 and $10 values.
  33. The first credit cards were merchant specific cards starting in 1900 with several hotels, but the first true credit card was invented in 1950 by Ralph Schneider and Frank X. McNamara. The Diners Club charged participating restaurants 7% interest on each purchase and charged a $3 fee a year to the card holder. This was the first card that could be used at different locations. Chase and Bank of America (Visa) came out with their first credit cards in 1958. They became most popular when the magnetic strip became available in 1970.
  34. In 1965, CEOs earned on average 44 times more than factory workers. In 1998, CEOs earned on average 326 times more than factory workers and in 1999, they earned 419 times more than factory workers. The gap has remained more-or-less at 400 times.
  35. TIP is the acronym for “To Insure Promptness.”
  36. If you drive 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket, you are more likely to die in a car accident than to win the lottery.
  37. If you leave an unpaid balance on a credit card charging 18% interest, the amount you owe will double in just four years and three months.
  38. Why are the portraits on coins almost always profile (sideways) views, while paper money is almost always frontal views? Profiles are easier to stamp into coins. Since the coin surface is actually a 3D portrait, there isn’t enough room to add the nose onto the coin in a frontal portrait.
  39. The word millionaire was first used by Benjamin Disraeli in his 1826 novel Vivian Grey.
  40. The largest denomination of currency was a $100,000 Series 1934 Gold Certificate note. It was primarily used between banks and not the public.
  41. Bartering was first recorded in Egypt over 4,500 years ago.
    In the past, people have used many different things as money.  Among them: salt, cocoa beans, grain, cows, shark’s teeth, and precious stones.
    The first record of a coin is by Croesus, King of Lydia (now part of Turkey).
    The world’s smallest coin weighed only .002 grams and was from Nepal.
    The world’s heaviest coin was from Sweden and weighed 43 pounds 7 1/4 oz.
    The writing of many coins is often a type of code to save space.
    Coins have a grooved edge because in the past dishonest traders filed down the edges to remove some of the precious metal.  Many countries print images or writing at the very edge of the coin to prevent this same dishonest practice.  
    A banknote is made on special paper; when held up to the light , it reveals a watermark that looks like a picture.
    A security thread is enclosed in the paper used for currency; this makes copying more difficult for counterfeiters.
    The world’s smallest banknote, issued in Morocco, was the size of a postage stamp.

    The largest check every written was from the American ambassador to the Indian government for $1,279,187,490.

    The wealth required to provide adequate food, water, education, health and housing for everyone in the world for a whole year is equivalent tot he amount spent on arms every two weeks worldwide.

    There are 138 stock exchanges in the world.
  42. The first european stock exchange was established in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1531.
    While not all of a person income is taxable in Norway, some people there pay more than 100% of their taxable income.  
    The highest recorded personal tax demand is one for $336 million on the estate of Howard Hughes.
    Four of the richest countries in the world with some of the highest personal income, Bahrain, Brunei, Kuwait, and Qatar, have no tax at all.

    As a check is only an instruction to a bank, it can be written on anything.  In the past people have written checks on such things as stone slabs, bananas and cows.

    Many countries have a central bank to keep watch on private banks.
  43. The central bank in Germany is the Deutswche Bundesbank.  The central bank in the United Kingdom is the Bank of England.  The central bank in the united States is the Federal reserve System.
    The Banc’ Eireann is a bank on wheels providing a service for far-flung customers in rural southern Ireland.
    Most of the earliest banks were started by goldsmiths, who had safes for their gold. People then paid to keep their own valuables in the goldsmith’s safes.
  44. The largest bank note was the Chinese 1 Kwan, printed in the 14th century, measuring 9 X 13 inches.
    More money is spent on arms in the world than on education, health, or any other form of development.
    The cost of the 10-years campaign to eradicate smallpox worldwide was less than three hours spending on arms worldwide.
    The world’s worst inflation was in Hungary in June 1946, when the 1931 gold pengo was valued at 130 million trillion paper pengos.
    Half the population of the world earns only 5% of the world’s total wealth.







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