Knife Money

Contributed by The Fitzwilliam Museum

The Chinese were the first to develop a monetary system. The earliest 'coins' reproduced familiar objects, which had themselves probably been used as a means of exchange. Natural cowry shells originally served this function. Around the eighth century BC replica spades and knives began to appear reflecting the region of their origin - knife money developed in areas where knives were an essential tool and spade money from fertile agricultural regions.

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