The Origins of Money

“All money is a matter of belief.”

— George J. W. Goodman, American editorialist


Money, simply defined, is something that can be used to make a payment. Any object can serve this purpose as long as it has an agreed-upon value and is trusted for use in transactions. Many different objects have functioned as money throughout history, including seashells, stones, metals, and paper. Metal coins and paper notes are the most widespread today, but both have circulated alongside other forms of money for millennia. The use of metal coins can be traced back more than 2,600 years and the use of paper money more than 1,000 years.