These 10 Bizarre Currencies From The Ancient Times Have Now Become Extinct

The Rupee, Euros, and Pounds we see today are modern currencies. They have gone through an immense evolution. Before modern coins and notes became a norm, the currency looked entirely different. Ancient folks used bizarre currencies for barter.

Some of these currencies were not pocket-friendly (pun intended), and some would even rip your pockets right out.

#1. Katanga Cross Currency

Made primarily of copper, Katanga crosses were used as a popular form of exchange in the Congo in the 19th and early 20th century. They were made by casting liquid copper into sand molds. The cross was given as bridal dowry, there was a catch, however, if the marriage failed, it had to be returned back.


#2. Parmigiano-Reggiano

Every foodie dreams of getting paid in cheese. The cheesemakers in Northern Italy have used cheese to their benefit. They are borrowing loans by paying in Parmigiano-Reggiano. A bank in Italy called Credito Emiliano lends loans on cheese. This unique method of debt repayment became popular at the time of recession when it hit the local cheesemakers badly.

How do they know which cheese belongs to whom? Each ring of cheese has a unique code that can be traced back to the borrower.


#3. Squirrel Pelts

Squirrel pelt is basically squirrel fur. Russia and Finland used them as a currency back in the days; makes sense since both countries have very harsh winters. In fact, this was a double advantage for them. Not only was this a form of money, it was also an efficient way to tackle the issue of plague, in the bud.


#4. Tiger Tongue Money

These silver bars are not really made of tiger tongue. They are elongated in shape that looks similar to a tongue. The patinated texture and raised bumps give it quite the character. They were pretty popular in 16th Century AD in Laos and Thailand.


#5. Potato Mashers/ Bafia Currency

Potato Mashers were legit currency in Central Africa. These mashers were expensive and not easy to handle hence were short in supply. Many of those times got themselves a wife for 30 mashers, pretty messed up by today’s standards.


#6. Rai Stones

Ever since 500 AD, the people of Yap in  Micronesia, use this giant limestone as a form of money. These giant circular discs came with center holes. Some were even found to weigh more than 4 tonnes.

They were brought to a location and used for payment. The location would remain unchanged, due to the hassle of transportation. Instead, people knew who the Rai currency belong to. It became redundant as new easier forms of currencies came into the picture.


#7. Lobi Snakes

Lobi Snakes are basically iron snakes used for barter and was used by inhabitants of Ghana. Since the community was largely farmers, they believed in the protective powers of the shape. The design was well represented in accessories and war armor for protection.


#8. Tea Bricks

This currency became extinct in 1935. These bricks were made of tea leaves that were pressed into molds. These were used as a form of popular currency until the price of tea rose significantly during WWII. Many from Asian regions preferred this form of currency as a tea also had medical benefits.


#9. Kissi Penny

Predominant in Sierra Leone, Kissi Penny was an iron currency. They were made by blacksmiths and were formed in the shape of long rods with a T-shaped end. Since their value was low, they were often exchanged in bundles. It is also said if broken these currencies could only be joined by an official ceremony by the witch doctor.


#10. Shell Money

Shell money was pretty popular across every continent. Cowry and other forms of shell were used to denote different values. Some customs even string together a bunch of shells to give away to the bride’s family. Although this type of currency is no longer popular, remote areas of islands still use it.


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