I’ve written this first paragraph half-a-dozen times and it always sounds as if I’m a crass, selfish, greedy woman, when all I want to say is, ” I love money,” and you do too. And so, ignoring all my odd feelings, I repeat, I love money.
The precious stuff has been made of wood, rubber, fur, china, salt, tea, copper, rum, tobacco, teeth, and yes, lest we forget, it’s made of paper, gold and silver, as well.
These ramblings came to my mind a day or so ago when I bought a good sized package of salt and realized that, back in the days of early Rome, that package of salt would have made me a wealthy women, I shuddered in joy.
Salt was priceless as a preservative in those long-gone days but back then, it was so precious that Roman soldiers took their pay in ‘sal’, and the word salary is still the word we use for our hard-earned wages.
Slaves were sold for their weight in salt, and you and I, unwittingly, pay homage to that custom whenever we say, ‘someone is (or isn’t) ‘worth his salt.’
All over the world, primitive people have used teeth of dangerous animals as we use money. Porpoise, tiger, bear, boar and whale teeth have all been used, and the wealthy wore their ‘money’ around their necks. A status symbol, no doubt.
And if you think women have been discriminated against on U.S. money, take a look at Kansas. Long before the ill-fated Susan B. Anthony dollar, which died quickly, but back in 1854, that territory issued a one-dollar bill with a woman’s face upon it. And two years later that same place, made a three-dollar bill with little girl cherubs pictured upon it.
Liquor, in any form, has always been a favorite ‘coin’. English miners in the 19th century took beer as partial pay and a century before that rum was legal tender in South Carolina.
Tea leaves were ‘money’ for centuries in the far East, and were packed into bricks for easy use. And another leaf, Tobacco, to this day, automatically means M-O-N-E-Y in most of our southern states. Big Money.
At one time the actual bales of tobacco leaves changed hands, then warehouse receipts were honored for purchases of all kinds, and today owning tobacco leaves is quicker credit than a Credit Card.
Money colors our lives and our language. Like a phrase that began in the early days of this country, when many a man carried his ‘poke’ of gold dust and paid for his purchases by letting the seller take a pinch or two of that gold. All of which makes us, without thinking say, ” How much can you raise in a pinch?”
Yes, money and its uses have come a long way since man first exchanged his cache of furs for household needs, and when the goldsmith, maker of jewelry and trinkets, was the first ‘banker’.
But instead of the bank paying the interest for the use our money as banks do today, that ‘banker’ had a different slant and actually charged a fee for protecting his customer’s coins. Yeah, we paid the bank.
Oh, money, money, money. Hated, coveted, lied for, cheated for, stolen, crass. But isn’t it a lovely thing to have around the house? Call it what you will, from ‘sal’, to the American Indian’s Wampum, to a man’s ‘poke’, beaver (in the early wild days when furs were traded as money ) greenbacks or just plain money, In all forms, and under whatever name, we’ll take it, for we love it.