Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I was thinking about how hard it was in the past to set type and print in mass production. Because of this, printed items were expensive and many people didn't own printed items such as books. But I was wondering if people still had printed type all around them in their daily lives, even if they didn't own it. Turns out they did, printed money.

In ancient China 960 A.D., coins were made of round medals with a rectangular hole in the middle. The coins were then strung together with rope and carried around. If one became rich enough they found that the money was too heavy to carry around. Because of this, coins were often left with a trustworthy person and the owner of the money would be given a slip of paper recording the amount. Then one could return for their money. Later, these notes became money and were called "jiaozi."

The Yuan Dynasty was the first Chinese dynasty to use printed paper notes as the primary currency. This paper money was know as "Chao." So just because not everyone could afford nice printed things in ancient times, they still had the opportunity to see it in their everyday lives.

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