History Of Money: How Our Currency Evolved From Pelts To Money

Money is a crucial part of our daily lives, but have you ever wondered about the history of money? From bartering to the first metal coins and eventually paper money, the evolution of currency has had a significant impact on the way we function as a society. In this guide, we’ll explore the history of money and how human beings have advanced from the barter economy to a complex financial system with several forms of currency.

What Is money

Money is an object that has a value placed on it, which allows for the trade of goods and services. Interestingly, money often has no intrinsic value. While some money, such as metal coins, has actual value in terms of the materials used, paper money typically has no real value.

When Was Money Invented

Before money was invented, people bartered for goods and services. It wasn’t until about 5,000 years ago that the Mesopotamian people created the shekel, which is considered the first known form of currency. Gold and silver coins date back to around 650 to 600 B.C. when stamped coins were used to pay armies. Some evidence suggests that metal coins may be as old as 1250 B.C.

What Was Used Before Money Was Invented

Before the invention of currency, people traded goods and services for what they needed. This early form of trade was the building block of our modern economy and would go on to create the future of money we know today.

The History Of Bartering

The history of bartering dates all the way back to 6000 B.C. when Mesopotamian tribes introduced the concept to the Phoenicians. Goods were exchanged for each other in the absence of money, including things like tea, salt, weapons, and food. As time went on, bartering continued to evolve, with Colonial Americans trading pelts, crops, and muskets.

First Metal Money – Coins

The first metal money dates back to 1000 B.C. China. These coins were made from stamped pieces of valuable metal, such as bronze and copper. Early iterations of coins were also used by ancient Greeks, starting around 650 B.C. Over time, coins evolved to be made from the silver and gold we associate with money today. Coins were a huge milestone in the history of money because they were one of the first currencies that allowed people to pay by count (number of coins) rather than weight.

Early Coins

Throughout history, there have been lots of different coins used in different regions. In about 500 B.C., the first round coins were created and stamped with gods and emperors for authenticity. In 800 AD, Charlemagne issued the silver penny, which was the standard coin in Western Europe from 794 to 1200 A.D. By the mid-13th century, the shilling and pound became widely used to describe larger amounts of pennies.

First Paper Money

While the first paper money was created in China in 700 to 800 A.D., it would be a long time before paper money became widely used. The first paper money was called jiaozi and was made from mulberry bark. It was used by merchants and traders who needed a lightweight and convenient way to carry large amounts of money. Paper money didn’t become widely used until the 17th century, when European countries began printing paper money to finance wars.


The first banknotes were issued in Sweden in 1661. They were used by the Swedish government to pay for its war expenses. Banknotes quickly became popular because they were easy to carry, and people could exchange them for gold or silver at any time. Banknotes were also more secure than coins because they were difficult to counterfeit.

Gold Standard

In the 19th century, the gold standard became the norm for currency. The gold standard meant that the value of a country’s currency was tied to the value of gold. This meant that people could exchange their paper money for gold at any time. The gold standard helped to stabilize currencies and encouraged international trade. However, it also meant that countries had to keep large reserves of gold, which limited their ability to print money.

Fiat Money

Fiat money is money that has no intrinsic value and is not backed by a commodity such as gold. Instead, fiat money is backed by the government that issues it. The value of fiat money is based on supply and demand. If there is too much money in circulation, its value will decrease, and prices will rise. If there is too little money in circulation, its value will increase, and prices will fall. Most modern currencies are fiat currencies.

Digital Money

Digital money is a relatively new development in the history of money. Digital money is money that exists only in electronic form, such as bank transfers, credit card payments, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Digital money is convenient because it can be transferred instantly and doesn’t require physical storage. However, it also raises concerns about security and privacy

In conclusion, the history of money is a long and fascinating one. From bartering to digital currencies, money has evolved over time to meet the needs of society. Today, we rely on a complex financial system that includes a variety of currencies, from paper money to digital currencies. Understanding the history of money can help us better understand the economic systems that shape our lives.


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