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National Currency Collection

Story

The well-travelled mollusc

As currency, cowry shells were a great success. They were durable, portable, universally recognizable, nearly impossible to counterfeit and remained a viable trading tool for thousands of years. At different times, they were used as mediums of exchange in Africa, Polynesia and parts of Asia - especially China. Cowry exchange value varied greatly with availability, giving it more buying power the further it was from the ocean. In China, the character for cowry forms the root symbol for many words related to money or value.

Item Details

Categorization

Collection
Proto-currency
Class
Asia
Name
Natural product
Form
Shell money

Materials

Object
Shell

30 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0G9, CANADA
613-782-8914