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Extra History: Season 23

The History of Paper Money 2016

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  • 2016-10-01T15:00:00Z on YouTube
  • 10 mins
  • 49 mins (6 episodes)
  • United States
  • English
  • Animation, Documentary, History
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The evolution of exchange, from bartering to paper currency.

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6 episodes

23x01 The History of Paper Money - Origins of Exchange

  • Season Premiere

    2016-10-01T15:00:00Z — 8 mins

Giant stones sunk under the sea? Cows? Cowrie Shells? What do they all have in common? They were all money. Find out how we got from exchanging these things to doing 8 hours of work for a stack of paper that takes 2 seconds to print on The History of Paper Money.

How does paper money get introduced? Who has to lose their head to do so? And what does Marco Polo have to do with anything???

Poor England. First Charles I and civil war, then losing to the French, then the Great Fire of London in 1666. Luckily, Nicholas Barbon comes along to help. And make obscene amounts of money. Who says you can't do both?

What happens when you really try to put paper money doctrine into practice? And why would you put a gambler, womanizer, and fugitive criminal like the ironically named John Law in charge of running it?

The first question of paper money is not how much you can print, nor even what its value is - but who prints the money? When every bank started to print their own bank notes, it caused confusion and frustration. Enter the Central Bank.

Even as the use of paper money grew, ties to the gold standard remained... and remained challenging. From the First Opium War to the Great Depression, events around the world stretched the capacity of bullion based economics. So what - and who - finally abandoned it?

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