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.
The $20 bill of 1969 was the prototype of the Scenes of Canada note series. Yet, as more notes were designed, the theme—and the $20 note itself—would change.
In 1896, three enterprising men struck gold in the Klondike region of the Yukon. Their story is just one of many that illustrates the allure of gold through the ages.
The economies in modern, complex video games can teach gamers a lot about decision making and financial literacy.
Over its 350-year lifespan, the Hudson’s Bay Company has had an enormous impact on Canada’s economy and how the nation was settled.
The Bank of Canada head office is two structures: the stone cube on Wellington Street and the glass structure that it is nestled into. Both are significant architectural landmarks.
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An image of a river of logs floating behind Parliament Hill has long lived in Canadian collective memory thanks to a bank note, the Scenes of Canada $1 bill.
Putting an industrial facility on a bank note is not a casual decision. At the end of the 1960s, such places were earning a bad reputation for pollution. There was actually a good reason for this choice, but it wasn’t obvious to many Canadians.
There might be only a handful of basic game formats, but there is an infinity of variations—a surprising number of which require the skills we need to manage our daily economic lives.