Thursday, January 26, 2006
The ancient Chinese tried to solve the problem [of what could be used as money--kb] by using seashells as money. The advantage of this system was that seashells were small, durable, clean, and easy to carry. The drawback was that they were, in a word, seashells. This meant that anybody with access to the sea could get them. By the time the ancient Chinese had figured this out, much of their country was the legal property of gulls.
And so the quest continued for a better form of money. Various cultures experimented with a number of commodities, including tea, grains, leather, tobacco, and Pok�mon cards. Then, finally, humanity hit upon a medium of exchange that had no disadvantages�a medium that was durable, portable, beautiful, and universally recognized to have lasting value. That medium, of course, was beer.
I guess that's another book I have to buy. Of course, some places cigarettes were money, and a chess set I still play with today I bought in Romania in 1974 for a carton of Parliaments. (Those were a favorite brand in eastern Europe back then.)