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Coin Collecting - Primitive Money

The term "Primitive Money" refers to tokens of exchange that do not take the form of conventional coins or paper money. Historically speaking, primitive money has often been the precursor to standardized coins, although cultures that use primitive money do not always "progress" on to true coinage. It is important to note that the use of "primitive money" does not, necessarily, imply that the society that uses it is also "primitive."

Primitive money takes a variety of forms. It may include natural objects, such as cowry shells, or may be crafted items made of metal or other materials. Sometimes the object may have a practical purpose in addition to serving as a form of currency. For example, in ancient Greece, iron cooking spits known as obols served as a medium of exchange. Later on, most Greek City States started using silver coins instead. However, the war-like Spartans, wishing to discourage a focus on wealth, continued to use the more cumbersome iron rod in all of their transactions.

Typically, primitive money is used locally and does not have a wide circulation. It is not produced by a governing authority and is not precisely standardized as to size and weight.

In this section you will find pages that discuss primitive money from all over the world. Owing to the great diversity of that money there is no attempt here to be exhaustive. The intention is merely to show important or interesting examples.