Fluctuating Fortunes – Fascinating Facts About Global Currencies
The new Australian $5 note doesn’t officially come into circulation until the 1st of September, but it’s already attracting plenty of attention, much of it negative. Featuring images of the Prickly Moses wattle and the Eastern spinebill, along with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that many consider unflattering, the bright colours and unusual patterning have caused uproar on social media.
It’s not all bad news though. To its credit this is the first Australian-issued note to feature tactile markings that help the visually-impaired know the value of the note they’re holding, thanks to an internet campaign by a young boy from Sydney.
This isn’t the first money to spark global interest or controversy. Here’s some more amazing facts about global currencies…
The British Pound – the world’s oldest currency
The British Pound Sterling is the world’s oldest currency, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times. Before guineas were retired in 1816, it was convention for tradesmen to be paid in pounds, and gentlemen in guineas. Incidentally, Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on more currency than anyone else, on that of over 30 countries to date.
Hidden messages on US bills
Conspiracy theorists take note – folding United States bills in different ways can unveil many “hidden” messages, including Trust No One, In God we trust, Lest we Forget and Resistance is Futile.
The first banknotes were known as “Flying Money”
Most banknotes are actually made of cotton, giving the lie to the saying that money doesn’t grow on trees. Silk and leather have also been used, and polymer notes are now in vogue, being more durable and harder to forge. The first banknotes originated in China, where they were known as “Flying Money” because the wind could take them so easily.
The world’s smallest note is the Romania 10 bani
The world’s smallest note is the Romania 10 bani, issued in 1917 and measuring just 27.5mm by 38mm. By contrast the world’s largest was issued in the Philippines to commemorate the centenary of the country’s independence, and measured 22cm by 23cm.
Hungary created a worthless note
In 1946, Hungary, suffering from the effects of hyperinflation, created a 100 quintillion, or 100 million billion pengő note. It was, as you can probably guess, almost worthless, but it’s something of a collector’s item now.
Pack some QUIDs when travelling into space
Planning a voyage into space any time soon? Better pack some QUIDs then. The Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination was dreamt up as a promotional campaign by Travelex. With no sharp edges, and being chemically inert, it was suggested as a viable form of currency to be used in the furthest reaches of space for when electronic transfers would take too long. The QUID takes its place among other fantasy space currencies such as the Federation Credits used in Star Trek, and the Cubits in Battlestar Galactica.
The New Zealand $5 note features the first man to climb Mount Everest
The New Zealand $5 note currently features Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with Tenzing Norgay was the first man to climb Mount Everest on 29 May 1953. Norgay himself was honoured by having the mountain range on Pluto named after him.
Ne Win caused a massive financial crash, because of his lucky number
Ne Win, Burmese military leader for 26 years, caused a massive financial crash when he attempted to make all Burmese currency divisible by 9, his lucky number.
Micronesia money are large stones which value can be affected by the number of people who died transporting them
Still used in Micronesia today, Rai Stones are large stone discs often too heavy to be easily moved, so transactions are recorded as oral history. The value of each Rai could be affected by the number of people who died transporting them.
10. Bitcoin trading for QUIDs
Bitcoin, the digital, peer-to-peer currency was supposedly invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Supposedly that is, because no-one has ever been able to identify him. Nakamoto could be an alias, it could be a group of people, or he could be genuine but just in hiding. The first man to download the Bitcoin software and receive a transaction from “Nakamoto” was later cryopreserved after his death. Perhaps one day in the future he’ll be trading his Bitcoin for QUIDs.