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Funny Money: Interesting Ancient Currencies

Updated on June 16, 2015

Funny Money

We have not always been so sophisticated as to use our current forms of currency: paper or plastic.

Believe it or not, there was a time when rattling change in your pockets would have been quite dangerous. Oh, how times have changed. Be thankful for the dollar bill.

This is a look at some of history's most interesting currencies.

Bafia Potato Masher
Bafia Potato Masher
Lobi Snake Currency
Lobi Snake Currency

Ancient African Money

Bafia Potato Masher. And you thought your old potato masher was worthless. The Bafia potato masher was a form of currency in what is modern-day Cameroon, and was used in the most important of trades. For example, a Bafian wife would cost you approximately thirty (30) "ensubas", or potato mashers. The modern US equivalent: 30 ensubas = HALF of everything you own.

Lobi Snake Currency. I can appreciate snake currency. Growing up near Sweetwater, Texas, home of the World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup, the 2nd weekend in March every year, it's not uncommon to see people trading in snakes. Although it is not an official medium of exchange, it is a boost to the local economy. Yeah, snakes.

Knife Money: Spade
Knife Money: Spade
Knife Money: Blade
Knife Money: Blade

Ancient Chinese Currency

Knife Money: See what I mean about rattling change in your pocket? Again, I'm accustomed to everyone walking around with knives in their pockets, but rarely has anyone bought me lunch with one. Believed to be the first Chinese "coins", knife money evolved in many forms, from the early "spade" (top right) to the later "blade" (bottom right).

Hey, that looks about like my barber's blade, I guess that explains the neck burn.

Ring Money
Ring Money

Ancient Egyptian Money

Ring Money: Can you imagine going into the supermarket and asking your wife to remove her ring so you can pay for the groceries? Well, that's not too far from what the ancient Egyptians would do, minus the supermarket, of course. Early Egyptian currency was the rings, bracelets and other jewelry of the day.

For you Bible scholars out there, it is believed that the reference to money in Deuteronomy 14:25 "Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose..." is a reference to Egyptian ring money. I have no way of confirming this, but it is certainly possible.

Potlatch Ceremony
Potlatch Ceremony
Potlatch Totem Pole
Potlatch Totem Pole
Potlatch Gift Mask
Potlatch Gift Mask

Early North American Money

Potlatch: The Potlatch ceremony was a "potluck" of gift giving, almost anything was exchanged. From whales' teeth in the Fijian islands, to feathers among the North American natives, to masks, precious metals, food, grain or livestock. The hallmark of the Potlatch was abundant giving. The Potlatch was a celebration of births, marriages, deaths, and everything in between. "Joey got a new canoe, let's party." The Potlatch was less of an exchange and more of a competition. The ultimate status symbol.

Potlatching was finally made illegal in the US and Canada near the end of the 1800s. Too bad, I'm going to a wedding this weekend. But, we are expecting our first child in July, so I guess it all evens out.

The most oppulent of all Potlatches is also commemorated in the pages of the Holy Bible:1Kings 10:4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built...10 And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      gud to knw abt the value of money in the early dayz

    • jamiecoins profile image


      8 years ago from ireland

      cool hub :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      hey can u send me the url where i can get some information about the forms of money in ancient's my email add

    • tdarby profile image


      10 years ago

      How crazy is the blade money from China. Not particularly easy to carry in you pocket--maybe they had special wallets?

    • mattferry profile image


      10 years ago from California

      wow cool trading materials... i know its impractical if use these but money now just looks so plain.

    • Peter M. Lopez profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter M. Lopez 

      11 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      Doghouse, thanks. The Texas currency is just novelty money, though. But we should have our own corrency.

    • Peter M. Lopez profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter M. Lopez 

      11 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      Thank you steph. I appreciate your kind remarks.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 

      11 years ago from California

      Another good Hub. I loved the Texas currency, lol, the state of Utah had their own at one time too. It didn't last long though...

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      11 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I like this! Great illustrations and cool facts.


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