Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Coins & Bartering

Many uninformed people today believe that bartering was the only real method of interchange anciently, that there were no need for money or “coins,” and that coins themselves as money did not occur until about 500 years ago, around the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

The simple fact is, that coins as money and having value in and of themselves, have existed for well over two thousand years. Mesoamerican and Great Lakes Theorists do not like to hear this and do all they can to convince others of their theories by showing that coins did not exist as such anciently, and that none should be found in their area of the Land of Promise.

However, the simple fact is, that coins AND bartering have existed for more than two thousand years, and often side-by-side. That is, bartering was used among local groups of a village or small area, but when trading with outside groups, other countries, other peoples, only gold and silver were acceptable means of exchange. Therefore, coins in the form of gold or silver were used ever since man traded with other areas, other peoples, and other countries. Yet, bartering was also necessary since gold and silver were very scarce in most areas, and coins were hard to come by for most people.

Even as late as the 17th century, people in the eastern United States, where gold and silver was not to be found, the minting of coins was rare for the precious metals needed were scarce and not to be found in the ground.

In fact, when the early settlements in America traded with England, they had to use silver or gold for they could not barter for trade. And since gold and silver were non-existent in eastern America, they resorted to using Spanish gold, called real dea ocho, or eight real coin (Eight Reals), or more loosely, pieces of eight, because the coin could be easily divided into eight parts—these were minted in the New World mints of Mexico City, Potosi, Bolivia, and Lima, Peru. These coins were brought out of Mexico, across the wilderness, mountains and through unfriendly lands to get to the eastern seaboard, making their value quite costly.

At that time, the Spanish gold, referred to as dollars by the Americans, a word taken from the Dutch daalder, a coin made of silver from the famous Joachimsthaler (Joachim Valley) silver mines. Coins made from this silver were known to be very pure and therefore soon became extremely popular as an export currency throughout Europe.

By the 17th century, Holland had become a world trade power with its own “thaler,” a silver coin with a lion on it, which they called the leeuwendaalder, changing the “thaler” into “daalder.” When the Dutch colonized the island of Manhattan and founded the New Netherland Colony, they called the town New Amsterdam (now New York). They brought their daalder with them, which became the most popular trading currency on the island.

Not only did the Dutch introduce daalder (dollar) into the English lexicon, but also gave us cookie, coleslaw, show, pump, skate, trigger and Yankee, among many others.

At this time, as had been happening in other areas of the world for centuries, locals bartered for services, since coins were very scarce. It was not that coins on a monetary system did not exist, only that they were scarce, as they always were in new colonies, largely rural areas, and where gold and silver were even more scarce from which coins could be made.

As mentioned above, the Great Lakes, New England, eastern U.S. did not have deposits of gold and silver and had to import or trade for such precious metals. So coins were scarce and difficult to obtain, so the earlier colonists bartered with products and services. But this should not be confused then, or in much earlier times, with the system of bartering in existence because there was no monetary system.

As has been pointed out in earlier posts, coins of value were struck and minted since B.C times, and though their value was dependent upon the precious metal contained in the coin, the same held true in the United States, and did until the 1971 “Nixon Shock,” when U.S. currency was no longer backed up by gold and silver. Between 1965 and 1981, the US. Dollar lost two thirds of its value, and from the original 1792, the U.S. dollar was worth a full dollar, and stayed pretty close to that value through 1900, when it was worth .96¢, but today, it is worth a miserable .03¢.

It is not that coins lost value because they became worn or chipped, etc., (which was true in some exchanges), but that the valuing of coins was consistently changed, even in the B.C. time of the Roman denarius, which was devalued consistently because of the amount of gold (grains) used in its manufacturer from time to time--a problem that beset coinage from earliest times and still exists, especially in third-world countries, today.

Roman Denarius coins. Left: minted in 211 B.C., Right: minted in 207 B.C. The coin on the right was found in England, and is the oldest Roman coin uncovered there

The point is, no amount of disingenuous reasoning can change the fact that metallurgy was not found until after the time of Christ in the Mesoamerican area, and not at all beyond copper usage in the Great Lakes area until far later, and no ancient pre-Columbian coins have been found in either location. In Peru, however, metallurgy dates to around 2000 B.C., and pre-Columbian coins have been found in the ground there.

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