25 Strangest Things Used As Currency

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From tootsie rolls to Tide detergent these are the 25 strangest things used as currency.

25. Rai Stones

These huge wheel like pieces of rock from the island of Palau were transported to the island of Yap by canoe to be used as currency. The most valuable pieces were the ones that caused the most deaths during transport.

24. Salt

In Roman times this was a very precious commodity. Even our word “salary” is derived from the Latin word for salt, “salarium”.

23. Candy

When Argentina ran out of coins in 2008 people used tootsie rolls or other small candies instead.

22. Ones and Zeros

We’re talking about digital currency here, the most famous of which has been Bitcoins.

21. Reciepts

In what was possibly the start of paper currency, traders in China used to use receipts for copper instead of the copper itself.

20. Peppercorn

For similar reasons to why the Romans traded salt, other regions traded pepper. In fact, when Attila the Hun besieged Rome he apparently demanded a ransom of pepper.

19. Beaver Pelts

These were often used to facilitate trade between Europeans and Native Americans. It was one of the few things that both sides found to be highly valuable.

18. Payphone tokens

In many parts of Africa where inflation is rampant and local currency has lost its value, mobile phone credit has become the currency of choice.

17. Hemp

Until the 20th century it was actually America’s largest cash crop and was grown for numerous uses including rope, sails, paper, and clothing. In fact, the first draft of the constitution was written on hemp. Perhaps it’s no wonder that it was used as currency.

16. Beads

Legend has it that Dutch settlers bought the island of Manhattan from the natives using beads. The equivalent price today would be $1000

15. Cocaine

In the mountains of Colombia there are places where cocaine is actually more convenient to use as currency than actual currency

14. Bottle caps

Just like the phone cards, some places in Africa use beer bottle caps as currency, especially since the breweries started printing bonus prizes under the caps in an attempt to copy Coca Cola.

13. Canadian Tire Money

When Canada Tire started offering their fake looking money as a consumer loyalty program they probably didn’t anticipate the fact that small businesses all over Canada would start accepting it. You can even use it as an official form of payment on eBay Canada

12. Mackerel

Often used in prisons as currency it goes by the name “mack”. No one is really sure why the fish achieved such a status apart from the fact that one pack costs about a dollar and nobody wants to eat any of it.

11. QUID

It stands for Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination and was invented by currency specialist Travelex as a form of currency to be used in space.

10. Buckskins

Along with beaver pelts this was one of the most popular currencies in the new world. In fact, the slang term for the American dollar, the “buck”, can be traced back to this practice.

9. Potato mashers

As strange as it sounds they were used as currency by the Bafia people who used to inhabit the modern day Republic of Cameroon.

8. Lobi snakes

The Lobi people were ancient inhabitants of Ghana. In order to protect themselves from snakes they forged iron snakes that they would use as a type of mystical “repellant”. These fake snakes were so valuable that they were eventually adopted as a medium of trade.

7. Kissi pennies

Until recently these long iron poles were used as currency in many parts of western Africa. If one of the poles broke, the currency was worthless and only an elaborate ceremony performed by a witch doctor could bring the value back.

6. Whales teeth

Perhaps not surprisingly, Fijian islands used sperm whale teeth as currency until recently when they adopted paper notes. In order to convince the people that the notes were worth anything, the authorities had whale teeth inscribed on all of them.

5. Knives

As the story goes, about 2500 years ago a Chinese prince let his soldiers exchange their knives for goods when money was scarce. Since then, using knives as money has had somewhat of a history in China.

4. Manchuko Yuan

The Manchukuo yuan currency was used by Japanese forces during their occupation of China. It was actually made of red or brown cardboard between 1944 and 1945 due to the lack of metal

3. Tide Detergent

Known as “liquid gold”, for a myriad of reasons the criminal underworld has resorted to using Tide as an alternative currency.

2. The world’s smallest coin

Historically speaking the world’s smallest coin was the Tara of Vijayanagar from India. It was only 4 mm across.

1. The world’s largest coin

Canada has released the largest piece of legal tender in the world. The $1 million Canadian dollar is made of 99.999% gold bullion and weighs 220 pounds.

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