The Story of
the Coin Press

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In most places there was one item that was valuable to everyone. The valuable item was almost always something that was hard to find. These items became early forms of money. All sorts of things could be used as money if people agreed on their value and accepted them in trade. In some places you could always make a trade if you had a cow. Salt was hard to find and very valuable to people. Everybody wanted salt to flavor and preserve their food. So salt was used for money. In ancient Rome the soldiers were paid with salt. Many other things were used as money. Corn, animal skins, beads, grains, feathers, tobacco, tools (such as spades and shovels), barley, tea leaves, and blankets were all used as money. In some places, people used little shells called cowrie shells for money. Cowrie shells were supposed to bring good luck. People put them on strings and wore them around their necks.

There were sometimes problems with the things people used for money. Pigs, goats, sheep and cows could get sick. Corn or grain could spoil if it was stored too long. Sometimes salt got wet and was ruined. Shells and tools could get broken. If these things spoiled or were broken what could people use for money? Read on and find out about when people began to use metal for money!