Silver, Gold and Paper

Gold and Silver money

Humans have always valued precious metals. The ancient Egyptians were the first people to use gold as currency. Merchants exchanged small bars of gold on the banks of the Nile over 3,000 years ago. Gold and silver were popular choices for currency, particularly during the Age of Exploration when travellers needed to trade with new markets. They required a currency that everyone valued.

One of the problems with using gold and silver was that coins could be devalued. People could mix the precious metals with other, cheaper metals to make coins that appeared more valuable than they were. Henry VIII of England was sometimes referred to as Copper Nose because he had issued coins made of cheaper metals covered in a thin layer of silver. The silver layer was soon scratched away, leaving the other metal showing. The silver on Henry’s nose was the first to rub off, which led to the nickname. The result for England, however, was a financial crisis.

 Paper money

Paper banknotes first appeared in China over 1,400 years ago. They were not popular in the Middle East or Europe at first because people did not trust that the paper was worth the same as precious metals or other currencies. The notes served as a guarantee or token and could be exchanged for gold when needed. Over time they became more accepted. 

Today, Banknotes have many sophisticated features that make them difficult to copy or counterfeit. Banknotes feature images and symbols that reflect a country’s history and culture. The UAE banknotes all feature a falcon, the national symbol of the country, and important buildings and people from the nation’s history.


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