Secrets of Wealth


Barter The first people didn't buy goods from other people with money. They used barter. Barter is the exchange of personal possessions of value for other goods that you want. This kind of exchange started at the beginning of humankind and is still used today. From 9,000-6,000 B.C., livestock was often used as a unit of exchange. Later, as agriculture developed, people used crops for barter. For example, I could ask another farmer to trade a pound of apples for a pound of bananas.
Shells At about 1200 B.C. in China, cowry shells became the first medium of exchange, or money. The cowry has served as money throughout history even to the middle of this century. 
First Metal Money China, in 1,000 B.C., produced mock cowry shells at the end of the Stone Age. They can be thought of as the original development of metal currency. In addition, tools made of metal, like knives and spades, were also used in China as money.  From these models, we developed today's round coins that we use daily. The Chinese coins were usually made out of base metals which had holes in them so that you could put the coins together to make a chain.
Silver At about 500 B.C., pieces of silver were the earliest coins.   Eventually in time they took the appearance of today and were imprinted with numerous gods and emperors to mark their value. These coins were first shown in Lydia, or Turkey, during this time, but the methods were used over and over again, and further improved upon by the Greek, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires. Not like Chinese coins, which relied on base metals, these new coins were composed from scarce metals such as bronze, gold, and silver, which had a lot of intrinsic value.
Leather Currency In 118 B.C., banknotes in the form of leather money were used in China. One-foot square pieces of white deerskin edged in vivid colors were exchanged for goods. This is believed to be the beginning of a kind of paper money.
Noses During the ninth century A.D., the Danes in Ireland had an expression "To pay through the nose." It comes from the practice of cutting the noses of those who were careless in paying the Danish poll tax.
Paper Currency From the ninth century to the fifteenth century A.D., in China, the first actual paper currency was used as money. Through this period the amount of currency skyrocketed causing severe inflation. Unfortunately, in 1455 the use of the currency vanished from China. European civilization still would not have paper currency for many years.
Potlach In 1500, North American Indians engaged in potlach, a term that describes the exchange of gifts at banquets, dances, and various rituals. Since the trading of gifts was so important in figuring the leaders’ community status, potlach went out of control as the gifts became more extravagant in an effort to surpass others' gifts.
Wampum In 1535, though likely well before this earliest recorded date, strings of beads made from clam shells, called wampum, are used by North American Indians as money. Wampum means white, the color of the clam shells and the beads.
Gold Standard In 1816, England made gold a benchmark of value. This meant that the value of currency was pegged to a certain number of ounces of gold. This would help to prevent inflation of currency. The U.S. went on the gold standard in 1900.
Depression Because of the depression of the 1930's, the U.S. began a world wide movement to end tying currency to gold. Today, few nations tie the value of their currency to the price of gold. Other government and financial institutions now try to control inflation.
Today At present, nations continue to change their currencies. For example, the U.S. has already changed its $100 and $20 banknotes. More changes are in the works.
Tomorrow Tomorrow is already here. Electronic money (or digital cash) is already being exchanged over the Internet.
Money is anything that is commonly accepted by a group of people for the exchange of goods, services, or resources. Every country has its own system of coins and paper money.

Bartering and Commodity Money
In the beginning, people bartered. Barter is the exchange of a good or service for another good or service, a bag of rice for a bag of beans. However, what if you couldn't agree what something was worth in exchange or you didn't want what the other person had. To solve that problem humans developed what is called commodity money.
A commodity is a basic item used by almost everyone. In the past, salt, tea, tobacco, cattle and seeds were commodities and therefore were once used as money. However, using commodities as money had other problems. Carrying bags of salt and other commodities was hard, and commodities were difficult to store or were perishable.

Coins and Paper Money
Metals objects were introduced as money around 5000 B.C. By 700 BC, the Lydians became the first in the Western world to make coins. Countries were soon minting their own series of coins with specific values. Metal was used because it was readily available, easy to work with and could be recycled. Since coins were given a certain value, it became easier to compare the cost of items people wanted.
Some of the earliest known paper money dates back to China, where the issue of paper money became common from about AD 960 onwards.

Representative Money
With the introduction of paper currency and non-precious coinage, commodity money evolved into representative money. This meant that what money itself was made of no longer had to be very valuable.
Representative money was backed by a government or bank's promise to exchange it for a certain amount of silver or gold. For example, the old British Pound bill or Pound Sterling was once guaranteed to be redeemable for a pound of sterling silver.
For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the majority of currencies were based on representative money through the use of the gold standard.
Fiat Money
Representative money has now been replaced by fiat money. Fiat is the Latin word for "let it be done". Money is now given value by a government fiat or decree, in other words enforceable legal tender laws were made. By law the refusal of "legal tender" money in favor of some other form of payment is illegal.
The origin of the "$" money sign is not certain. Many historians trace the $ money sign to either the Mexican or Spanish "P's" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. The study of old manuscripts shows that the "S," gradually came to be written over the "P," looking very much like the "$" mark.
U.S. Money Trivia
On March 10, 1862 the first United States paper money was issued. The denominations were $5, $10, and $20. They became legal tender by Act of March 17, 1862. The inclusion of "In God We Trust" on all currency was required by law in 1955. The national motto first appeared on paper money in 1957 on $1 Silver Certificates, and on all Federal Reserve Notes beginning with Series 1963.

Electronic Banking

ERMA began as a project for the Bank of America in an effort to computerize the banking industry. MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) was part of ERMA. MICR allowed computers to read special numbers at the bottom of checks that allowed computerized tracking and accounting of check transactions.

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