Modern Currencies of the World
What is considered a modern currency does not mean that it is currently in use. The classification “modern” refers to the type of currency a more modern-day society adapted to in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. The modern currencies used in our more recent time have seemed to largely ignore the hard currencies (such as gold and silver) of our recent past and rely principally on the good faith of governments to hold the value of what is fiat money.
Most all coined currency today is fiat money and is made of alloyed metals. A copper coin most likely is alloyed with tin or zinc to make the metal last longer in circulation. Most silver coins were alloyed with copper to harden its resistance to wear in commerce. Most gold coins used either copper or silver to maintain its resistance while in use. Even today, most all metals, including our current coinage is a combination of copper, nickel, zinc, aluminum, and or manganese in composition to maintain a long useful life while in circulation. Today’s fiat coinage has maintained an excellent record of stability of wear and tear while in use. Most worldwide coinage is well crafted due to today’s metallurgical advances in the proper mixing of metals to produce resilience in usage.
Copper coins minted in the early nineteenth century in the United States were in half cent and one cent denominations. Also, some penny “coppers” from Great Britain were also accepted in daily transactions in the States. These coins managed to be a pillar of commerce for the common people during late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.
Around the time of the Civil War, carrying Large Cents around was rather annoying and unpopular to carry due to its size and weight. The Half Cent was pretty much not used since there weren’t too many items at that value by the 1850’s. So the United States government decided to implement a new smaller sized copper cent in 1856 and stop the production of the large cent and half cent in 1857. The new smaller sized coin quickly grew popular with the public and is basically still in use today except for the composition of the metal.
The word “Penny” was often referenced in the United States for the Large Cent. Its name was derived from the patriarch, the British Penny, which was also a large copper disk much the same size as the Large Cent. Since many people were English speaking and of British descent in early North America, the term “Penny” become the slang term used for the decimal based cent. It is still used today.
The word “Cent” is from the Latin root word “Centum” meaning (100) one hundred. Since the United States chose to use the decimal system for currency, the “Cent” was the official chosen word for the copper coin.
The original copper composition of the U.S. Cent was terminated in 1982. It is being minted today on zinc a planchet lightly coated in copper to look like the original copper cent.
The copper cent minted before 1982 is worth over $0.03 in today’s market. Even the current cent is worth over $0.01 in metal content.
Nickel in coins is actually a fairly new type of metal that is used in exchange. Even though the metal nickel has been around since time began, its use, alloyed with copper, made it acceptable to the world as good hard resistant coin for small denominations such as the five cent nickel. So well received it has been that the U.S. nickel has been in existence with the same metal content and size for over 140 years! The only changes that have ever been made are the designs on the coin.
Today all the fiat coins, except for the one cent denomination, in the United States and many of the coins around the world use nickel in their alloy.
Since the United States was so young, it was struggling with acquiring copper, silver and gold planchets for the making of its own currency. The world was using the Spanish Milled Dollar, also known as “a piece of eight”, and it remained as the international currency of choice in the United States until the mid-nineteenth century.
Silver coins were minted for many centuries by major civilizations of the past. Silver and gold were the mainstay for commerce for thousands of years. During the reign of various empires did a certain gold or silver coin become the basis for which other lesser societies accepted as the worldwide currency of choice.
Gold has been the “mainstay for currency exchange” since the beginning of time. This soft, malleable, yellow, and highly reflective metal has drawn the allure of man for as long as he has worked with its properties. Gold never tarnishes like silver. Gold may be found as a nugget, or small grains within rock material, and as a vein of pure gold within rocks as if poured throughout fissures in the rock strata with other minerals. Naturally, the best way to discover gold is to be fortunate enough to find a nice big chunk or nugget, but that is not how most of the gold is discovered. In fact, that is rather rare, especially the very large nuggets. Most gold is rather random within rock strata as small pieces of grains or flakes of the precious metal. This makes it rather difficult to extract without tedious labor to separate it from the rest of the rock material. Another way to find gold is through alluvial deposits found in creeks and streams. It is in these alluvial beds that gold nuggets have been found.
Platinum Coins have been tried in the economy on occasion since the 1800's in the country of Russia. The discovery of the metal was fairly recent (in the late 1500's) in the mines of South America. It was an unknown metal, very hard and brittle characteristics, but not at all common. Today most of the metal is mined in Russia where around 90% of the metal is found. Some of this metal has been minted as coins and is held as an investment. It is not a coin that is used in any day-to-day commerce. The value fluctuates in the commodities market and is not only extremely rare, but extremely pricey to possess.
Palladium coins have been minted due to an investor demand for bullion. Palladium is part of the Platinum Family of rare metals.
Rhodium Coins have only rarely been minted for bullion purposes. Rhodium, although extremely rare, is part of the Platinum Family of metals and is principally used for industrial and jewelry purposes.
Recently, Rhodium coins have taken the biggest plunge in value largely due to the world economic problems in 2008. The use of this metal is principally used in industry. The current price for Rhodium as compared to its rarity is an extreme bargain. The biggest problem is the lack of knowledge the average investor has of this metal resulting in bargain basement pricing as compared to gold.
Other Metals used as currency:
In Progress, please be patient and come back again....