Jack’s Cabinet of Curiosities: Something That is Common to All of Us – Money

Something that is common to all of us – Money.  Many people never have enough money and some have more than enough.

Over many centuries a variety of systems have been used to perpetuate trade of goods.  Some people used a barter system to meet their needs.  You have something I can use and I have something useful to you.

Early Greeks used metal coins to represent value for purchasing goods.  These coins were imprinted with facsimiles of leaders or gods they worshiped.

Technology moved money handling to an easier place.  Carrying coins for a larger purchase was a burden.  Around 100A.D. the invention of paper in China was developed.  This paper was a combination of ground up mash consisting of mulberry bark, rags, and fish net.  Some monk probably tired of writing the same sacred script over and over on this early paper carved letters into wooden blocks and printing was invented.

The first form of a bank came into existence by a person accepting a bag of coins in deposit for a paper note to make business transactions easier.

When our country was organizing the money system a big debate broke out as to who should issue paper money.  As I recall, Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of Treasury at the time, wanted a federal system to banks, while others wanted Sate banks to issue paper notes.  This became very confusing.  At one point we had 8,000 different kinds of money.  One of which, a bank in New York City, issued a paper bill with the picture of Santa Claus on it.

By 1863, new taxes (Civil War) mandated a uniform system of paper money -thus U.S. Bank notes.

Until 1933 the U.S. was on the gold standard, that is, gold backed paper money issued in our country. At that time, we were in the depth of an economic depression. The banks were suffering a “run” meaning people were asking for their deposits.  To quiet things down a banking holiday was declared.

The president, FDR, took the U.S. off the gold standard.  A Federal Reserve System of banks was created guaranteeing through a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, depositor money.

By 1950 we were introduced to a new form of money – charge card.  Most everyone has had experience with this type of money. Some people no longer carry cash because a credit card can be used almost anywhere you need to spend money.

Where is our money system going in the future?  A number of years ago a new private source of money was created.  The original dream for this new money called cryptocurrency was purely a private money.  Various names are used to identify it as Bitcoin and Stable coin.

The question is are we going to adapt to a new monetary technology?

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