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History Matters: Making Money
10/28/2011
Our ancestors' have always been paying their dues.

Americans like to think of the dollar as king, but in the history of currency, that honor probably belongs to the humble cowry. A type of mollusk shell common in the shallow waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, the cowry was used as money as early as 1200 BC in China. There, the first pictograph meaning “money” depicted a shell. The most widely and longest-used currency in history, cowries were exchanged in Africa into the mid-20th century.

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