The Island of Stone Money 

Monday, December 13th, 2010

In the western Pacific lies the island of Yap. Yap’s inhabitants have long use large limestone discs as a form of currency. Due to their large size (hundreds of pounds or more), the stones often don’t move at all, even when ownership changes. In fact, this fascinating NPR article describes something even more interesting:

In fact, the stone doesn’t even need to be on the island to count as money.

One time, according to the island’s oral tradition, a work crew was bringing was bringing a giant stone coin back to Yap on a boat. And just before they got back to the island, they hit a big storm. The stone wound up on the bottom of the ocean.

The crew made it back to the island and told everybody what happened. And everybody decided that the piece of stone money was still good — even though it was on the bottom of the ocean.

It sounds ridiculous, unless you think about things like checks, credit cards, or online banking.


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