Ancient Forms of Money

Before coins and paper notes many objects were tested out for the use of money. Some because of their rarity and others because they had a common use other than just as a piece of currency. From squirrel pelts to salt, here is a list of five ancient forms of money!

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Plate of squirrel fur backs

Squirrel Pelts
During the Middle Ages, Russians had taken a liking to trading squirrel pelts, often using the claws and snouts for pocket change. This odd form of currency may have accidentally benefited the Russians in a non-economic way as well. During medieval times, Europe was ravaged by the infamous Black Plague, but Russia wasn’t hit nearly as hard. Since the plague was most often carried by rodents, killing a bunch of rodents and using their pelts as currency likely reduced the number of plague carriers. Interestingly, modern day Finland actually recognizes squirrel pelts as a currency, and values them at 3 cents each.

 

Tursiops_truncatus_01Dolphin Teeth
For hundreds of years on the Solomon Islands, dolphin teeth have been used as currency. The islands have a long history of hunting dolphins and the age-old practice came to a halt around the middle of the nineteenth century. However, as a result of the devaluation of the country’s dollar, some parts of the island have reverted back to the traditional use of dolphins teeth.

 

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Naturally formed salt crystals

Salt
Salt’s ability to preserve food made it a precious and highly valued commodity during the Roman Empire and throughout the Middle Ages. It was used as a method of trade and currency and historically, people would lick the salt block to make sure it was real and break pieces off to make change. Interestingly, the word salary stems from the Latin term ‘salarium’, which refers to salt money.

 

 

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A brick of Hubei mǐ zhūan chá (米磚茶),

Tea Bricks
Tea Bricks are blocks of whole or finely ground black tea, green tea, or post-fermented tea leaves that have been packed in molds and pressed into block form. This was the most commonly produced and used form of tea in ancient China prior to the Ming Dynasty. Due to the high value of tea in many parts of Asia, tea bricks were used as a form of currency throughout China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Central Asia. Tea bricks were in fact the preferred form of currency over metallic coins for the nomads of Mongolia and Siberia. The tea could not only be used as money and eaten as food in times of hunger but also brewed as allegedly beneficial medicine for treating coughs and colds. Until World War II, tea bricks were still used as a form of edible currency in Siberia.

 

Monetaria_moneta_01Shells
Shell money usually consisted either of whole sea shells or pieces of them, which were often worked into beads or were otherwise artificially shaped. The use of shells in trade began as direct commodity exchange, the shells having value as body ornamentation. The distinction between beads as commodities and beads as money has been the subject of debate among economic anthropologists.

Some form of shell money appears to have been found on almost every continent: America, Asia, Africa and Australia. The shell most widely used worldwide as currency was the shell of Cypraea moneta, the money cowry. This species is most abundant in the Indian Ocean, and was collected in the Maldive Islands, in Sri Lanka, along the Malabar coast, in Borneo and on other East Indian islands, and in various parts of the African coast from Ras Hafun to Mozambique. Cowry shell money was important at one time or another in the trade networks of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia.

 

How Fourth-Graders Turned Their School Closet Into An Archaeological Dig

 

Students at the Children’s Workshop School in New York City have created a fantastic project: Closet Archaeology!

 

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A display of some of the coins found by the class. Photo from Closet Archaeology Instagram.

A few years ago, student Bobby Scotto, already a budding numismatist and archaeology enthusiast, began pulling small items out of the crack between the floorboards in the closet of his classroom. Mostly wheat pennies, Bobby’s treasures attracted the notice of other students, who also began examining the floorboards.

 

Rather than directing the students back to the original schoolwork, teacher Miriam Sicherman found ways to incorporate the exploration into her curriculum and the whole class began researching and developing good recovery habits and documentation of finds. Sicherman even brought in a working archaeologist to discuss how she preserves finds to make sure as much information about each find is retained. The students have learned to document where and when each item was found, the condition it was found in, and more. They have also learned how to research their finds and put them into historical context.

 

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Alan Lederman’s long-lost money

And what finds! Apart from dozens of old coins of many varieties, they have found baseball cards, candy wrappers, a 1921 Red Cross pin, and more. They actually managed to track down the original owner of an envelope with $2 in it that came out of the floorboards: Alan Lederman, who attended the school when it was P.S. 61. Alan said, “I did remember that we would bring in to the teacher a dollar or two every week and then around the winter holiday we would get back a nice lump sum amount for holiday presents. P.S. 61 was fine, I still remember several of my classmates there.  I really don’t remember losing the $2. But as I recall, a slice of pizza was about 15 cents to 25 cents at that time, so I guess I could have had a lunch or two for the $2. I was stunned to learn that someone had found the money after all those years. And it was amazing that they had simultaneously found a composition by my then classmate Jane Itzkowitz, who I remembered from so long ago. And it was amazing that Miriam was able to track down two of my other P.S. 61 close classmates. One is now an official of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, and one is a Professor at the University of Washington. I was then able to track down recent YouTube videos they made. It was amazing to see them again on the screen!”

 

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Alan Lederman’s envelope from 1959, which held the $2

Teacher and overseer of the project, Miriam Sicherman, said, “My students pursued a project that was invented by them, and through that, they came to see the world as a place where something interesting might be hiding around every corner. Teachers always want to cultivate curiosity in their students, and in this case, the students were nurturing their own curiosity. At first, my role was mostly to stay out of their way, and let them develop that curiosity as well as the technical skills of extracting artifacts through the gap in the floor. As the project progressed, I helped logistically in terms of creating time in our schedule, scheduling excavation sessions in other classrooms, obtaining storage materials, contacting experts for their advice, and teaching them some basic online research skills. I tried to facilitate rather than to direct the project.”

 

When asked about how the project helped her students better understand history, she elaborated, “I have often seen kids connect more viscerally to historical artifacts than to other sources of information, like informational books. I often take students on field trips to places like the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum (a Dutch farmhouse in Brooklyn that was built in the 1650s and has many artifacts) or the African Burial Ground, which has many replicas of skeletons and artifacts. Kids love learning from these objects–guessing what they are, comparing them to what we use nowadays, and imagining the people who once made or used them long ago. When it came to our project, this interest was magnified because the kids themselves had discovered the artifacts–they weren’t chosen by a teacher or museum guide; they were unmediated by adults. So this made the kids even more curious and engaged with the background of many of the artifacts.”

 

The students continue to make discoveries, and have even ventured into the closets in other classrooms. Bobby continues to be interested in numismatics, history, and archaeology, and hopes to be able to add metal detecting to his skills soon. You can follow the Closet Archaeology project on their Instagram.

Glasshouse Money and Company Scrip

 

 

Today, money is issued by the federal government, and companies pay their employees by check or cash. But it wasn’t always like that. Until fairly recently, many companies issued their own notes to pay employees, known as “company scrip.” Glasshouse money is a good example.

 

 

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Vintage glass company advertisement. Corning Museum of Glass collections, used under fair use.

Until the federal government began producing paper currency in 1861, bank notes were issued by local and state banks. Glasshouses, amongst others, often issued their own bills which could be redeemed at the company store for goods or cash. According to the Corning Museum of Glass, “The Manufacturers and Farmers Bank of Wheeling, Virginia opened in 1851, and also issued bills that illustrated glassblowing. During this time there were several glasshouses in town, including the Union Glass Works; Barnes, Hobbs and Company; and Sweeney and Company. The owners of one or more of these factories may have been directors of the bank or stockholders. The Philadelphia and Wheeling notes were issued on the funds of the bank, not the funds of the glass companies.”

 

 

Scrip served many purposes, including making payment more stable for companies in rural locations that might not have the cash flow of larger or more urban industries. It also served to tie employees to the company; scrip lost value when exchanged for cash, and goods in the company store (often the only store for miles around) were marked up. This system ensured that workers would not be able to save enough to move or look for other work; it was not unusual for multiple generations of a single family to work for the same company.

 

 

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Olga Coal Company scrip token from 1945. Used under fair use.

Though the printing of bills ceased after the government began issuing federal currency, companies continued using tokens and vouchers well into the 20th century. This scrip token from the Olga Coal Company in Coalwood, WV (familiar to anyone who’s seen the movie October Sky) is dated 1945. As late as 2008, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the Mexican subsidiary branch of Wal-Mart must cease paying workers in Wal-Mart vouchers.

 

 

[Featured image credit Corning Museum of Glass. Used under fair use.]

The Money Museum

 

 

W1siZiIsInVwbG9hZHMvcGxhY2VfaW1hZ2VzL2E3MjY0NzYxYTI4NDY5ODJjN18zNzMxNzI3NDI0XzQ3NzBkY2Q2NGFfYi5qcGciXSxbInAiLCJ0aHVtYiIsIjk4MHg-Il0sWyJwIiwiY29udmVydCIsIi1xdWFsaXR5IDkxIC1hdXRvLW9yaWVudCJdXQ.jpgOne of the most unique museums in the United States is the “Money Museum.” Part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Museum is visited by over 40,000 people annually. The Reserve Bank is still active, storing billions of dollars in currency for smaller banks. The museum features exhibits like a large glass cube containing one million $1 bills (which weigh approximately 2000 pounds), a briefcase with $1 million in currency for photo ops, and a “money pit” where $50,000 in coins have been placed in an unused elevator shaft.

 

 

W1siZiIsInVwbG9hZHMvcGxhY2VfaW1hZ2VzL2E3MjY0NzYxYTI4NDY5ODJjN18xMjY2NjIzNDI3NF80YzgyN2U4M2EzX2suanBnIl0sWyJwIiwidGh1bWIiLCI5ODB4PiJdLFsicCIsImNvbnZlcnQiLCItcXVhbGl0eSA5MSAtYXV0by1vcmllbnQiXV0.jpgIt’s not just Scrooge McDuck-style fun and games at the museum, though. Visitors to the museum learn about the printing of currency, how currency is transported and stored, and the life cycle of a printed bill. In fact, the facility shreds about $10 million in unusable bills daily, and visitors are given some of the shredded cash as a souvenir. (One young visitor stated that if the money had not been shredded, she would have used it to buy a horse.)

 

While school groups, college students, and senior citizens make up the bulk of the museum’s visitors, anyone is welcome to visit, and admission is free. Not able to get to Chicago? They’ve got a “Virtual Money Museum” here.

The Machine That Showed the Flow of Money

 

People have been searching for new ways to combine money and technology for as long as both have existed. Some mergings have worked better than others, while others have fallen into obscurity. Take the MONIAC, for example.

 

Also known as the financephalograph, the Monetary National Income Analogue Computer, or MONIAC, used “fluid logic” to depict the flow of finances in the British economy. Different aspects of the economic system were represented by tanks of water, connected by tubes. Adjusting the amount of “money” in any tank caused water to flow throughout the system, reflecting the changes. Increasing the tax rate caused water to flow into the treasury tank, while increasing spending would drain it. The MONIAC was found to be accurate to within 2%, and while originally meant as a teaching tool, could also be used as an accurate economic simulator.

 

“The flow of water between the tanks was determined by economic principles and the settings for various parameters. Different economic parameters, such as tax rates and investment rates, could be entered by setting the valves which controlled the flow of water about the computer. Users could experiment with different settings and note the effect on the model. The MONIAC’s ability to model the subtle interaction of a number of variables made it a powerful tool for its time. When a set of parameters resulted in a viable economy the model would stabilise and the results could be read from scales. The output from the computer could also be sent to a rudimentary plotter.”

 

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The MONIAC was invented by New Zealand economist Williams Phillips in 1949 while he was at school at the London School of Economics. Computers were not widely available at the time, so Phillips scrounged parts to build his machine. Along with ordinary scrap metal and plastic, he also used war surplus parts, some from Lancaster bombers. The MONIAC prototype cost Phillips £400 to create (£13,000 in 2015 money); however, after he demonstrated the machine to economists, he was offered a teaching position at the London School of Economics, so it seems to have been a wise investment.

 

 

3As more complex computer systems became available, the MONIAC fell out of use, but the quest for better ways to combine money and technology has continued. Our own machine is the newest part of this search, and can sort and grade coins on an unprecedented scale. We’re currently testing an app that uses the same technology to identify coins by photo; for more information, contact social@lookzee.com.

Lemons, Loonies, and Lakhs: Money Slang From Around the World

Do you have a clunky silver echidna? Or maybe some spare watermelons? Most people are familiar with slang names for coins like “bob” or “loonie,” but some of the currency slang from around the world is extremely colorful and imaginative.

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In Australia, a “clunky silver echidna” refers to a five cent coin (which can also be “dusty shrapnel”), while a ten cent coin can be “Howie’s sticky dollar,” in reference to a politician known for introducing a goods and services tax. The two-dollar coin can be a “nugget,” a “twigger,” or–since it is approximately the same size as the five cent coin but thicker–a “fat echidna.”

 

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In Canada, the one-dollar coin is commonly called a “loonie,” for its well-known design of a loon on the reverse. The two-dollar coin, naturally, became the “toonie,” though some prefer to spell it as “twonie.”
1_rupee_bill_historical.jpgIndia has a denomination called the Lakh, which is equal to 100,000 rupees. The lakh is sometimes called the “peti,” which means “suitcase,” referring to the suitcase needed to carry a Lakh’s worth of notes. Wealthy businessmen may refer to two- and three-crore amounts as “2C” or “3C.”
s-l1600.jpgThe most common Russian slang words for money translate as “cabbage” and “dough.” 500 rubles are sometimes referred to as “pyatihatka,” which literally means “five huts,” perhaps a reference to the buying power of the currency. 1000 rubles can be “kosar” (mower) or “shtuka” (thing.) During the hyperinflation of the ruble during the Russian Civil War and 1980’s, some of the larger denominations acquired nicknames: 1 million rubles is “limon” (lemon) and a billion rubles were “arbuz” (watermelon.)

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Pre-decimalisation coins in the United Kingdom have many names. A “bob” was a shilling, while a farthing could be a “mag,” and a sixpence a “tanner.” The collective term “shrapnel” could refer to all loose change in a pocket, while a “wad” would be a large amount of paper money.

 

 

money-1428584_960_720.jpgRap and hip-hop music have given rise to new slang terms for money, as well. “Bands” refers to large amounts of paper currency, from the rubber bands often used to keep bills in bundles. “Guac,” short for “guacamole,” is also used, presumably due to the green color of both the condiment and American bills. “Cream” is based on the acronym “cash rules everything around me,” most notably used by the Wu-Tang Clan.

 

eight_varieties_of_pearsOne type of slang deserves special mention: the complex and lyrical phenomenon of “rhyming slang.” The best known example of this form is Cockney rhyming slang. In this system, the object is paired with a two-part phrase, the last part of which rhymes with the object. Sometimes the rhyme is left at this stage, but in many instances, the second part of the pairing is dropped, leaving an unrelated word to signify the object. For example, “stairs” could be paired with “apples and pears.” Then, “pears” would be dropped, leaving “apples.” (This is the system that lead to the phrase “blowing a raspberry;” the full rhyming phrase would be “raspberry tart.”) This manner of speaking can be extremely confusing to anyone not familiar with the system and its customs. In some instances, the original slang word is rhymed again, leading to even more distance from the original subject. This unique speech art began in the East End of London in the 1840s.

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In Australia, this can be seen in the slang terms for the twenty cent coin, which is referred to as a “splatty” or “fatty,” rhyming with the “platy” (platypus) on the coin. The 10 cent coin, which features a design of a bird, is sometimes called a “turd” for the same reason.

 

Whatever you call your currency, one thing is for certain: we’ll never run out of weird slang to use in describing money!

 

All about the $2 Bill

Each  year, the United States Treasury receives many letters from the public wondering why $2 bills are no longer in circulation.  The answer? They are!  The history of the $2 bill is rather long and inconsistent but interesting nonetheless. Decades have passed without any of these bills being printed, making it easy to see why some people might not even know they still exist in circulation.

In 1862, the first $2 bills began rolling off the presses.  Alexander Hamilton was featured on the front until 1869, when it was redesigned to feature Thomas Jefferson instead.  Soon afterwards people began referring to the $2 bill as a “Tom.”

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As with most paper currency at this time, the $2 bill was a much larger size than we see today, measuring 89× 79 mm.  In 1928  all United States Currency was changed to its current size.

The $2 bills issued in 1928 were called United States Notes, but still featured Thomas Jefferson on the obverse.

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After the 1928 issues, $2 bills were not produced again until 1953.  Because they were not the most popular bill in circulation, they printed fewer of them.  This caused people to begin hoarding them, making them even more scarce!

In 1963, the words “In God We Trust” were added to the reverse, right above the image of Monticello.  They continued to print this version until 1966 when it was discontinued.

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On April 13, 1976, the $2 bill was reintroduced to help commemorate the country’s bicentennial and as a way to cut down on costs.  The theory was that the Treasury could print half as many $1 bills by issuing them as $2 instead.  This could have saved the Treasury $26 million at the time.  In reality, a lot of people really liked the 1976 notes and chose to save them as collectors pieces as opposed to spending them.

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Today, $2 bills are growing in popularity, although many people still see them as simply a collectors piece.  This mindset has led to the $2 bill becoming the rarest current denomination of US Currency.  Only 1% of US currency in circulation is the $2 bill.

Low circulation numbers have given the $2 bill another unique purpose. Bank tellers often place a $2 bill in their till, at the bottom of their stack of $1 bills.  They keep the serial number of the $2 recorded, and should a robbery ever occur, they can use that serial number to track the suspect.

Although not the most popular of bills to spend, the $2 bill has certainly been popular to save and collect and has served several important purposes over the years.  We have a large variety of $2 bills or “Toms” listed in our eBay store for you to peruse. Consider adding some to your collection today!

 

 

When Money was Made of Wood

In the 1930’s, our country was smack dab in the middle of a huge depression.  Banks were failing, factories closed and people stopped spending.  All of these things meant very little money was in circulation.  Many cities in our lovely State of Washington had an interesting response; Wooden Nickels.

In 1933, the bank in Tenino, Washington failed and closed its doors.  Suddenly, merchants from around the area had no way of cashing checks or getting change without traveling to a different city.  Today, this might not seem like the end of the world, but in the 30’s, this meant traveling up to 30 miles through rugged terrain.  What cars they had were not made to handle the mountain roads in this area, meaning a trip to the bank took around 4 hours.  Most merchants could not leave their stores for this long, or they would risk losing what little business they had.

One thing that Washington State did not have a shortage of was trees.  A man named Albert Balch, of Blaine, Washington, had been going around promoting a new printing product, called slicewood. Produced in Aberdeen, WA, this thin, pressed wood was made out of Sitka Spruce, Port Orford and Red Cedar.  It was rolled out into flat sheets that measured 1/80th of an inch.  Balch had intended for this product to be used for printing Christmas cards (see above), but in light of the circumstances, thought it might be great for printing emergency money. The Chamber of Commerce in Tenino agreed and wooden money was issued as legal tender. It was backed by non-interest baring warrants, mostly in denominations of 25 cents. Pieces worth $10, $5, $1 and 50 cent pieces were also available.  Merchants could redeem them for US currency or gold.

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When the same need arose in Balch’s hometown of Blaine, Washington, a similar idea was adopted.  This time, the wood was rolled out and cut into circles to more closely resemble coins. On one side was an image of the Peace Arch Monument and the words, “Acceptable at par for MDSE. 1933.”  The other side said, “Peace Arch, Wooden 5¢ Nickel, Blaine, Wash.” These wooden nickels put Blaine on the map.  Some were even sent to President Roosevelt where they eventually made the national news.

A few years later, after the depression, wood was outlawed as a form of currency.  Merchants continued to issue wooden nickels for things like promotions, advertising and souvenirs.

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Today, Wooden Nickels from Blaine are worth a bit more than their denomination might tell you.  On Ebay, depression era wooden script sells for between $20-$30, making them a relatively affordable thing to collect.  Although you can not cash them in at your local store, they do carry the history of a very tough time in American history and the story one town’s unique solution to an overwhelming problem.

The V.D.B Controversy

On August 2, 1909 people began lining up to get their hands on the freshly minted Lincoln Cent that was to replace the Indian Head Cent.  There was such demand for this coin because it was the first American coin to feature a real historical person on its obverse, and Abraham Lincoln at that (see our previous blog “The Lincoln Wheat Cent”).  Three days after the coin’s release, it was pulled back off the presses amid controversy about the size of the artist’s initials on the reverse. Although no one really knows for sure what happened, there has been much speculation about this event.

From the day Victor David Brenner was tasked by President Roosevelt to redesign the penny, Chief Engraver Charles Barber had an issue.  Barber did not like the idea of working with an outsider who had nothing more than sculpting experience. Some say Barber was jealous because Brenner’s design was selected over his own.

In June of 1909, the final design was approved by both Barber and Treasury Secretary Franklin MacVeagh, including approval of the initials V.D.B along the bottom of the reverse.  In fact, Barber encouraged Brenner to include his initials and refused to let him use a more discrete “B” placed somewhere else.

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The day of the coin’s release, rumors started circulating about the placement of the initials.  Some believe a jealous Barber went behind Brenner’s back and began accusing him of being too vain.  Because Brenner was paid for his work, he should not have felt the need to put his initials in such a prominent place on the coin, if at all.  Others have said it was the public that raised a fuss because the initials were simply too big.  Another group of people felt the whole discussion was ridiculous. Adding the artists initials to a coin was a long standing tradition, dating back to ancient Greece.  In fact, the latest gold piece designed by Augustus St. Gaudens and released in 1907 had his initials in the field, on the reverse.

Regardless of the facts, the coin was pulled off the presses on August 5th until a compromise could be struck. Either the initials could be removed all together, the V and D could be removed, simply leaving the B, or the V.D.B could be moved to a more discreet location.  Despite objection from Brenner, the first option was selected as Barber argued any of the other options would take much too long.

During the halt in production, rumor spread that the government was going to recall all the pennies with the V.D.B initials. This caused a bit of a craze as people began hoarding the already in demand coin.

On August 12, 1909 the Lincoln Cent hit the presses once again, this time with no initials, and by the end of the year, supply had finally caught up with demand.

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Barber passed away in 1917 and the issue of the initials was revisited shortly there after.  In 1918, the initials V.D.B were restored to the coin, this time on the obverse, at the bottom of the Lincoln bust, near the rim of the coin.  They remain there to this day.

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Not only did this controversy affect the general public, but the coin collecting community as well.  While there were 28 million 1909 V.D.B cents minted at the Philadelphia mint, there were only 484.000 minted in San Francisco.  These 1909 S V.D.B cents became very popular and still are, selling for several thousand dollars a piece in mint condition.

Image courtesy of CCF Numismatics [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of CCF Numismatics [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Check out all the Lincoln Wheat cents we have available on Ebay and our website and see if you can spot the 4 different varieties:

1909 V.D.B with no mint mark (minted in Philadelphia)

1909 S V.D.B (minted in San Fransisco-highly collectible)

1909-1917 with no initials

1918-1958 discrete V.D.B on the bottom of Lincoln’s bust

Hawaiian Coinage

It’s a little known fact outside the collector’s world that the Hawaiian Islands had their own coinage.  Five official coins were issued for the Kingdom of Hawai’i before it became a territory of the United States.  All of these Silver pieces were designed by Charles Barber and were minted in San Francisco.  Serving as legal tender in Hawai’i, Hawaiian coinage includes the 1847 cent issued by King Kamehameha III and the 1883 silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars, which bare the portrait of King Kalakaua.

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

The element that makes these coins so collectible can be found in their uniquity.  After Hawai’i became a United States territory in 1900 these coins were no longer accepted as legal tender and lost their initial value.  At that time, most of these coins were withdrawn and melted down.  As a result, they are more rare and of higher value.

Aside from their limited number, they are unique in the many hands they passed through during a specific time and locale in history.  Initially 100,000 of these Hawaiian coins were issued and were used for the remainder of the century alongside a plethora of foreign coins circulated through plantation work and trade.  Because the Hawaiian Kingdom did not have the means necessary to mint their own coins, commerce relied on a medley of currency from Spanish American colonies, Asia and the United States.  Alongside foreign coins, plantations such as Wailuku, Thomas Horton, Waterhouse and Haiku distributed tokens to serve as minor coinage.

By The original uploader was Ianwatts at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By The original uploader was Ianwatts at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Each of the coins might have been the daily bread of a migrant plantation worker or a means of cultural trade.  Even today Hawai’i is referred to as a “melting pot”.  It’s fascinating that from the beginnings of currency and language, Hawai’i has demonstrated a blending of cultures which can be seen through their limited currency and the story each coin tells.