International commerce in the ancient world
The recent additions to the National Currency Collection described below are from very different parts of the world and are between 1500 and 2500 years old. It may not be obvious at first, but they reflect themes that are still important to us today. Globalization isn’t a recent development–international trade has been around since ancient times. And even then, people were worried about counterfeiting!
Punch-marked coins, Gandhara Janapada, circa 5th century BC
Many of us know about Afghanistan only from news reports. However, the country has a long and sometimes surprising history. In the first millennium BC, the region of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan was home to the Indian Janapada (kingdom) of Gandhara. At the crossroads of Asia and the Middle East, Gandhara was perfectly situated as a hub for trade and the export of cultures. We know that Gandhari merchants traded with Babylon and may have travelled as far west as Egypt and Ancient Greece.
These silver coins attest to the kingdom’s trade connections and wealth. The weight of the coins is based on an Indian standard, the satamana, that is also related to the Babylonian shekel. The smaller stamps on the bar-coin are banker or merchant marks. These marks were probably made by someone testing the quality of the silver.
Glass coin weights, Byzantine Empire, circa 6th-7th century AD
Although the Roman Empire in Western Europe was overrun by invaders, it survived in the East as the Byzantine Empire for over a thousand years. The eparchs, or governors, of cities such as Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey) were almost as important as the emperor himself. One of the eparchs’ responsibilities was to issue the official weights that merchants used to test coins–an early anti-counterfeiting measure.
Some of these weights were made of glass. A blob of melted glass was dropped on a flat surface and stamped before it cooled. The same glass was used to make jewellery and delicate perfume bottles, so the weights come in a variety of colours. They all bear the name or monogram in Greek of the individual who issued them.
But what do you do with money once you have it? That’s for you to decide. A budget can really help. It will allow you to keep track of what you earn (income) and what you spend (expenses).
Most of us are aware of them, but how much do we really understand about cryptocurrencies?
With the continuing rise of e-transfers and electronic payments, people have been predicting the death of the humble cheque for decades. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Few of us ever get a chance to see a Scenes of Canada $100 bill. Which is a pity, because it is an example of great bank note design with even greater imagery by a master engraver.
Collecting paper money seems simple enough. But, paper is delicate stuff and demands a gentle touch.
From skip counting to making change, working with money is a great way for students to practice math skills.
Coin collecting can be a fun and fascinating hobby. But there are a few things you should know to keep your collection safe and in good condition. Because coins aren’t as robust as you might imagine.
Security printing is a game of anticipating and responding to criminal threats. Counterfeiting is a game of anticipating and responding to bank note design. This cat and mouse relationship affects every aspect of a bank note.
From design to final product, bank notes and coins can be used to explore and teach art, media and process.