I’m sure we’re all familiar with the ancient barter trade of times gone by. However, did you know there used to be a very real old currency that was used in trades? Sure it wasn’t the paper and plastic that we have today, but then again with contemporary problems in place with the world economy, we may be using barter for trading soon enough – although I hope not. The old money currency systems that used to exist seem bizarre or even alien today, but they are compelling, to say the least. Let’s take a look at some of the strangest old currency exchanges and values of yesteryear.
African Potato Mashers
Bafia potato mashers were used to, surprisingly, mash potatoes; they were also used as old currency. In ancient Cameroon, these heavy potato mashers weren’t in supply by the large and were therefore reserved for affluent members of the community. That is why it was perfect for trading power and currency. In fact, a Bafian wife would set you back approximately 30 Bafia potato mashers; which begs the question, “Any potato mashers left for the kitchen?” In all seriousness though, the value of an old currency is still quite measurable using a bit of research in anthropology. As a bonus, relatively nearby Mali used to use copper and metal snakes as old currency which I would imagine would scare any potential wife you’re in the market for away.
Asian Knife Collections
Meanwhile in Asia, if a mugger ever attempted to rob someone he would have a much harder time making a clean getaway. The first-ever form of old coins and currency in China came in the form of knives; a great defence against an impoverished mugger would be a wallet full of weapons I would imagine. One such knife looked like a barber’s razor which can only give new meaning to the phrase ‘slashing prices.’ Less dangerous was the Egyptian form of old currency exchange which was quite simply jewelry. If you wanted to buy a chariot or Nile raft, all you needed to do was produce a necklace or gold ring with which to give in exchange. Not quite old British currency, one could only imagine how many pyramids one could buy with the Crown Jewels.
A Potluck or Potlatch
Finally, North American Indians seemed to have an old currency of their own long before the first settler hit the east coast. A potlatch ceremony would be similar to a church fete in that people would bring old junk and go home with new junk. The exchange of everything from Orca teeth to hawk beaks would happen as rarer items had stronger values attached to them. One could argue this was simply bartering but there was real value attached to individual items so it was more or less systematic thereby transcending the traditional bartering. Old currency may have been more fun to exchange than paper or coins, but it would take a marketing genius to figure out any sort of Forex system attached to a single Orca tooth.