For thousands of years, finances have been the foundation of the entire global economy. As one could easily guess, money has undergone many significant and surprising changes during its long history. And many of those changes are really worth a bit of closer examination. You will learn some particularly interesting facts about money, some of which are worth having everyone take a look at.


Did you know that the familiar word “bank” originally meant “table”? The thing is, this term originally appeared in Italy, and in Italian the word banco means a small shop or a table. That was exactly where ancient bankers performed their financial operations, sitting at ordinary wooden tables located at markets around the world.


The oldest bank in the world in its modern form was opened back in 1472 in Italy as well. Its name is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. In addition to the fact that the building where this organization operated has still been preserved, the very same bank continues to operate even today.

The oldest bank in the world
Western style Bank, grocery, boots in an old American town


It is also appropriate to mention here that in 1179, Pope Alexander III owed so much to his bankers that he officially issued an edict, out of displeasure and unwillingness to repay the debts, that all banking sector workers should be deprived of the right of communion and of a Christian burial. That is, he essentially excommunicated all bankers from the church. What’s remarkable is that no one has revoked that edict so far…


The English word money, nowadays used as a collective noun for any type of currency or funds, originally got its name from the title of the Roman goddess Juno. It was used in Latin as Moneta which meant “the Keeper.” There were shops around Juno’s temple in ancient Rome where money was coined and the metal money began to be called monētae.


Many of today’s people would certainly like to be millionaires someday. You can count on the fact that this goal is quite an attainable one in fact. You can exchange 4 US dollars for as much as 10,000,000 dollars Zimbabwe! Though, to tell the truth, their purchasing power is highly unlikely to please you that much.


Do you know how many ATMs operate in the world today? It turns out there are up to 2 million machines. You can even find two of those machines operating at the North Pole. The very first ATM was installed in 1967 in London. It didn’t accept plastic cards, but rather special paper vouchers.


In Ancient Greece, ordinary money was in circulation, of course, but in Sparta it was replaced with bulky and uncomfortable metal bars to reduce the rate of bribery and theft.

Ancient money
Ancient coins and broken earthenware


The well-known dollar sign $ existed long before the United States of America was born. It was used for Mexican pesos. Later, those pesos were circulating in the US until the States began printing their own money. The dollar sign came from a merger of the P and S letters, which designated pesos.


Until the 18th century, money was not divided into cents or kopecks. It first happened in Russia, when in 1704 a decimation was carried out – the ruble was divided into 100 kopecks.


Curiously each paper banknote, regardless of its country of origin, is designed strictly for 4,000 folds, after which it immediately tears up. And no ordinary paper in the world can boast of a similar strength.


In the past, the value of coins was equal to the quantity and quality of their metal. Crooks came up with the idea of cutting the edges of coins to make new money out of them. And Isaac Newton fought back with the idea of minting small cuts on the edge of the coins to make the scarfed coins immediately stand out. These cuts are still utilized and are called milled edges.


Coins have often been round. But in the early 18th century a square-shaped copper ruble was introduced. Each side was almost 7.8 inches long. And that copper ruble weighed over 3.3 pounds.

A square-shaped coin
Square coin isolated on white


If you think that the first paper money appeared in Europe, you are mistaken. Originally, paper banknotes were invented in China and had real monetary value. But the amazing thing is that all these bills were used exclusively for burning during funeral ceremonies. It was believed that through this unusual custom, the deceased would be rich in another world.


A remarkable fact is that until 1964 many African countries continued to use livestock, shiny stones and shells instead of traditional money, just as they used to do many centuries before.


The most expensive coin in the world is a collectible dollar called “Loose Hair” issued in 1794 in the USA. Its auction value is $7,850,000.