Bullion, Coins, Gold and the Silver Dollar

Money is a fascinating, and ancient invention.  I don’t know what society was first to shift from the barter system to using a form of currency, but I suspect money dates back to the time of Hammurabi, if not earlier. I don’t know what any of those ancient societies used for money, or who invented the coin. Perhaps archeologists settled this question long ago, or perhaps it is still to be settled, or, perhaps still, it will be a mystery forever.

Another curious fact is that precious metals were universally adopted as standards of currency. Though perhaps on reflection this isn’t so mysterious, precious metals are beautiful after all, and rare, and they last seemingly forever, so they are actually quite an intelligent choice for a society to adopt as a store of value, perhaps they were an inevitable choice. It may be that the existence of the silver dollar was predestined from the earliest days of civilization, although the ancient barterers could scarcely have envisioned the existence of such a thing.

When did people first begin to fashion objects from gold and silver for that matter. Surely crowns and chalices were made before coins. Gold was a useful as well as a valuable metal and it may have been hoarded, but was not kept in reserves like Fort Knox in the form of gold bullion until the very recent past. Yet, curiously, that is probably the most common image we have in mind when we think of gold today.