As cultures grew to mythological manifestations, despots and kings with links to the divine took over. Nothing says "ego" like putting your very own face on coin or currency. Philip of Macedonia (father of Alexander "the Great") was the first but many have followed. Since then, hundreds of [mostly] men have had their faces stamped onto their country's money. Even today, we might find nation-state money bearing images of royalty, political heroes, presidents, kings, queens and other politicos. In the alternative, we see money art paying homage to some form of the Divine or extolling natural wonders.

Finally, nation-state money frequently emphasizes law and order values. We might see symbolism reflecting constitutions or proclaimed systems of governance. Complex laws and monopolistic armies support it. Typically, we see references to the virtues of government. This is where we see references to law and order, national roots, patriotism, the "people" or the like.

Money types are functions of weight, portability, fungibility, security and technology. Money's weights have varied from the huge stone discs of the Yap     Islands to today's disembodied bits and bytes of computerized electronics. Yet the various money forms contain these common qualities. Obviously, the money will reflect its user's agreement.

Money's form typically stems from utilitarian considerations reflecting portability, security and inherent value. Historically, local coins were frequently recalled, melted down and diluted when rulers changed or armies needed financing. Ever wonder why dime and quarters have ridges?  Ridges reveal coin shaving and loss of intrinsic value of rare metals. In this vein, check out terms like demurrage, Gresham's law and purchasing power inflation. Even gold can lose its luster.

Dozens of objects have served the money function from gold to shells to tobacco to pelts and furs. We are fortunate to have a variety of excellent sources of money history to help us look at the array of money types. The most authoritative appears to be A History of Money by Glyn Davies and Roy Davies. The History of Money by Jack Weatherford is also an excellent resource. For authentic visuals, take a trip to the British Museum in London. Its money section is magnificent.

These and other authorities regale us with the tales of objects, actions and human folly that lead to our current relationships with money. From the Bible's wisdom and the money centric parables of Matthew, Mark and Luke, to fairy tales and the European morality literature of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, money has been a constant in western civilization. These accounts are very much worth the read.

Financial planning is a learned profession. If we are serious, we must know about our stuff. We must know money.

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