3 Weird Currencies from Around the World

Trading a service for a goat or some food might sound like a fun throwback to simpler times. However, the days of bartering are long gone. Several thousand years ago, humans made a significant leap in innovation. They developed currency — a more sophisticated and efficient way of trading goods and services, marking a pivotal point in our history.

While national currencies have mostly been reduced to bills and coins, cultures worldwide have used various instruments to function as currency throughout history. You may not find any of these dispensed at an ATM, but these unusual currencies from around the world will certainly make you appreciate the simplicity of metal or cotton in your pocket.

1. Zimbabwe $100 Trillion Bill

Issued in 2009, the $100 trillion bill is the largest ever issued by a country. Following the Economic Structural Adjustment Program spearheaded by President Robert Mugabe, the government seized assets and businesses owned by white landowners and reappropriated them to locals.

The only issue was that many new landowners didn’t have the skills or knowledge to run the businesses — primarily farms — which led to hyperinflation. At its height, inflation ran at roughly 98% per day, significantly lowering the value of Zimbabwe’s currency.

When this note was issued, 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars was worth about $30 USD — making it more of a collector’s item than one of true monetary value.

2. Rai Stones

Without access to gold or other precious gems or metals, ancient inhabitants of present-day Micronesia turned to local stones and reefs to create one of the world’s oldest currencies.

Also known as Yapese stones, rai stones are large, circular pieces of rock used in Palau and Micronesia as currency from the 16th century to the early 20th century. Often used for inheritances, wedding dowries, ransoms, or political motivations, the stones varied in size and shape.

Due to the weight of rai stones, they were often stationery — the largest one ever found weighed an astonishing 8,800 pounds. Try carrying that around in your purse or wallet.

3. Headless Zaire Notes

Printing extra money can lower the value of your currency by increasing its supply. So when your president gets overthrown, you need a way to maintain your monetary system without contributing to costs or inflation.

That’s just what the Democratic Republic of Congo did when they overthrew the regime of Joseph Mobutu. Rather than print new currency, Congo used the former Zaire currency (the name of the country before the coup) and cut the head of Mobutu from the note itself. The headless note was used for years until the country issued a new currency years later.

Where To Find Weird Money

You may never see some of these peculiar currencies from around the world, but if you’re interested in different types of money, visit us at London Coin Galleries of Newport Beach.

As a coin dealer that has been around for multiple decades, at any given time, our gallery has coins and bills from ancient civilizations, former countries, and just about any other type you can think of. 

Whether you want to add a few weird currencies to your collection or learn more about numismatics and the basics of coin collections, we have everything you need in one place.  Contact us to book an appointment today.