June 28, 2012 By ekr




Let’s face it: Bartering is no picnic. Once humans realized a medium of exchange might be useful in figuring out how much an ax was worth compared to a cow, money has made the world go ’round.

Visitors to the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum can see the many different forms, shapes and uses money has taken in the past 10,000 years in a new exhibit, “History of Money,” beginning April 26.

“The exhibit is designed to highlight the most notable innovations in money through history,” said Douglas Mudd, Money Museum curator. “If you want to see what the earliest coins look like, we’ve got them. If you want to see the largest denomination U.S. banknote, we’ve got it.”

“History of Money” poses the question: What qualifies as money? In essence, money is anything people will accept as payment in exchange for goods and services. From there, the exhibit traces money’s earliest origins and highlights money’s evolution across the ages – from cowrie shells to credit cards and beyond.

Visitors will see examples of the first coins ever created from ancient Lydia, as well as ancient coins from Greece, Rome, India and China.

Medieval money bears the hallmarks of its times. In Western and Central Europe, long-distance trade and a sophisticated monetized economy gave way to barter and feudalism of the Dark Ages. It’s not surprising that medieval money is much rarer today than ancient money – there was less of it circulating.

Paper money evolved greatly since its invention in 9th century China. The exhibit presents the oldest surviving type of paper money, a Chinese 1 Kuan note from the 14th Century. Other notable pieces include a U.S. $100,000 proof note, strikingly artistic international notes and modern polymer notes.

When money is not available – whether due to natural disasters, hoarding or economic crises – it’s not uncommon for alternative and emergency currency to fill the void. The exhibit presents many examples of this, including German hyperinflation billion-mark notes from the early 1920s, American emergency money of the Great Depression and Hobo nickels.

There are also major displays dedicated to U.S. coinage and paper money, world coins and paper money, modern coinage and how coins are minted.

See “History of Money” for free during an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. April 26 at the Money Museum, 818 N. Cascade Ave., in Colorado Springs, Colo. One lucky visitor will win a 2,000-year-old ancient coin during the opening. Visitors can take home a special National Coin Week medallette made in the museum’s Mini-Mint.

“History of Money” is a permanent exhibit in the museum’s lower gallery. Sections of the exhibit displays will change on a regular basis to highlight historically important items from the museum’s 275,000 piece collection.

The Money Museum hours are 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, students or military and free for children 12 and under. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 719-632-2646.

For high-resolution images of items featured in “History of Money,” please email pr@money.org

The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.


When: 5-7 p.m. April 26

Where: ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum, 818 N. Cascade Ave.

Cost: Free during the opening, $5 for adults, $4 seniors, military and students, and free for children 12 and under

Web: www.money.org

Special drawing: One visitor to the opening reception will win a 2,000-year-old ancient coin.

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