Friday, July 10, 2020

Review of "Coins and Currency," by Paul J. Gelinas

Review of

Coins and Currency, by Paul J. Gelinas

Five out of five stars

 Money, or a generally accepted medium of exchange, has taken several forms across time and cultures. Everything from live animals to large stones has been used as money. Yet, for it to be most effectively used in commerce, it must be durable and portable. Therefore, currency was quickly stabilized as being primarily in the form of metal coinage.

 However, as the amounts needed for transactions went up, large numbers of coins were replaced by a paper letter of credit. This shielded the traders from being robbed of their coinage, for the letter of credit had no value to a thief, possessing it would identify them as being a criminal. This, along with the need for more currency in circulation, led to the creation of paper money, which at first was nothing more than a paper certificate for a certain amount of precious metal.

 This book describes the need for and creation of several forms of currency and how it has been modified over time before being standardized as being primarily in paper form. It is an excellent introduction to what is critical to modern commerce, a fast and efficient way to buy and sell goods without having to carry the base metals. In the modern world of credit cards and e-commerce, some of it is obsolete. Yet it retains enough historical relevance to consider it a primer on currency for middle school students.

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