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Old Money, New Money
It is hard to imagine there was once a time when money did not exist. But thousands of years ago, people traded, or bartered, with each other to get what they needed. For instance, if someone needed a cow, she might trade a few chickens for it.
But trading takes time, and it is difficult to move cows and chickens around for bartering. So people began using coins and pieces of paper to represent animals, food, and other items.
Salt, Feathers, and Whales’ Teeth
Metal coins have been used in various countries for money for about 3,000 years. People started using paper money about 1,000 years ago because it was lighter to carry than coins.
Blankets, feathers, tea leaves, and even whales’ teeth have also been used for money. Long ago in ancient Rome, workers were paid not with coins but with salt. That is where the word salary comes from—sal means salt in Latin, the Romans’ language. In Canada in the late 1600s, there was a shortage of coins, so playing cards were used instead. The amount of money was written on the back of the card.
Some First Nations in North America used shell beads known as wampum for trade, in ceremonies for decoration, and to record agreements. It is hard to believe, but huge stone doughnuts were used as money by the people of Yap, which is an island in the Pacific Ocean. Some of the stones were so large they would not even fit in your bedroom!
Coins and Bills
People used to use 25¢ bills in Canada and the United States. These and other bills that were worth less than $1 were known across North America as shinplasters because they looked similar to a small, square piece of paper that was used at the time as a bandage.
Coins last longer than bills because metal is strong and durable. Money that lasts longer is less expensive to produce since it does not have to be replaced as frequently. That is good for the environment too. So many countries have switched from bills to coins for some of their money. Did you know that Canada used to have $1 and $2
bills? The government has even talked about changing the $5 bill to a coin!
Paper money may last as little as two years. That is why countries such as Canada and others are now printing polymer bills—sometimes called “plastic money.” These bills are stronger than paper and cleaner too since they do not absorb liquid.
Countries are always looking for ways to make their bills difficult to counterfeit, or copy. Some bills have transparent sections, raised type, metallic images, holograms, and more. Other bills include Braille dots so visually impaired people can use them more easily.
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1. Why did people begin using coins and pieces of paper to represent animals, food, and other items?CorrectIncorrect
2. Match the people or place to the item that was used as money.
huge stone doughnuts
First Nations in North America
People of Yap
3. Where does the word salary come from?CorrectIncorrect
4. Why do coins last longer than bills?CorrectIncorrect
5. True or false? Money that lasts longer is less expensive to produce.CorrectIncorrect
6. How long may paper money last?CorrectIncorrect
7. Brainstorm some changes that could be made to coins or bills to make them more difficult to counterfeit and longer-lasting. Write your ideas in the space below.
Great answer!Great answer!
Type your response above.