Middle Age Technologies

Paper Money
by Colleen Dumas

Paper money was made by the Tang Dynasty in China in 740 B.C. They made the paper money as an offshoot of the invention of block printing. Block printing is like stamping. Some people used the process for quilts, but the government made ready use of it in printing money. They made paper money because their devalued coins were becoming too heavy to carry.

Before the Tang invention there were many other ways to buy things. Bartering, for example, was a direct but cumbersome exchange of personal goods like crops. Seashells, in some places and times have been exchanged in the same way as coins. Wampum was a string of beads made of shells and used for money by American Indians. Gold and other precious metals and stones have been used in much the same way as coins, but with unpredictable value. Coins benefitted trade by providing a relatively consistent, reliable and predictable value. Checks were an improvement on



carrying around heavy loads of coins, and started as simple IOUs, but with sometimes dubious worth. Perhaps one of the least desirable earlier systems of exchange was the use of noses! If you didn’t pay your tax, well……you get the point.

Tang people had it easier once they had paper money. Paper money is light, foldable, potentially worth a lot more, and takes less effort to make than many earlier systems.

If the Tang dynasty hadn't invented paper money how would it affect us?

For jobs how would you like to be paid in thousands of pounds of coins? And also in Stop and Shop you'd have to wait hours just to buy a Snickers because everyone in line is pouring out change to pay for their groceries

So you see now that the Tang were great and thank goodness for paper money!

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