The latest CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series article by Mike Markowitz is "Money Before Coinage," or "Proto-Money". Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online. Discussed are hacksilber, cowrie shells, ring money, Harappan gold discs, and more.
Monetary objects used before coinage are not usually considered a regular part of numismatics. Relevant information is scattered across the vast literature of archaeology and anthropology. Alison Hingston Quiggen's pioneering book, A Survey of Primitive Money (1949, reprinted 2018) is still a useful reference. Quiggen (1874-1971) was a British anthropologist. The term
proto-money is preferable to
traditional since many of the societies that used these things were quite advanced, with sophisticated economies.
Collectors of proto-money will encounter thorny problems of authenticity and provenance. In many cases, it is impossible to determine whether an object was used as money rather than as an ornament, ritual offering, or ceremonial gift. Nevertheless, examples of proto-money appear from time to time in numismatic auctions and dealer inventories, and they offer us a fascinating glimpse into the pre-history of coinage.
To read the complete article, see:
CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Money Before Coinage
Wayne Homren, Editor
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