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A Brief History of Money. From Barter to Bitcoins

February 7 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

An illustrated lecture by Gerald Jenkins in the Webb Room at the Community Centre.

Except possibly for the invention of the wheel, it is fair to say that the invention of money has probably been the greatest ever achievement of mankind. Not many of us appreciate just how important and mysterious it really is. However, it has truly transformed  the world and improved the lives of all of us beyond recognition.

In 2018 in Switzerland , there was a national referendum where everybody had a vote. This was nothing to do with Europe or the EEC , but about whether or not to allow their currency, the Swiss Franc, to be created by ’FIAT ’ or by ‘Partial Reserve Banking” This lecture explains the difference between the two methods so that you can decide how you personally would have voted. What did the Swiss decide? If you would like to understand more about how money is created, then please come along to this lecture.
Starting with the ancient story of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, Gerald traces the origins and the invention of different forms of money, beginning with gold & silver coins in the Middle East.   Then via  paper money invented in China and now used everywhere. In our own lifetimes, there has also been the invention of electronic money in the form of on-line bank accounts and of course credit and debit cards.  Each new form of money has made possible and easier  the efficient exchange of food, goods and resources which would otherwise go to waste.   Money allows people to specialise and it is that specialisation and the trade between individuals and between countries around the world which  has so vastly increased the total wealth and well-being available to all.  Whether it is then shared out fairly or not is a different question, a question of politics.
They say that ‘Bad news sells Newspapers’  because most people find that that the stories  of crises and disasters are so much more interesting than those reporting stability and steady progress.  So it is with money.    For instance: What was it like to live through  hyperinflation in Germany in 1923? What is it like to live in a country such as Venezuela today and Zimbabwe a few years ago?  In each case, Government action and the mistreatment of its money brought about starvation and poverty for millions in what should be rich and prosperous countries.

Money in all its forms has always attracted criminals and the dishonest and we trace how governments and banks have tried to deal with forgers, counterfeiters and robbers in the past.   Nowadays, of course, we also have to face the additional problem of hackers and scammers who try to attack our on-line accounts or cards. 

This Brief History is told in the form of illustrated stories from around the world which illustrate  the strangeness of money. Including  what happened when all the Irish banks went on strike for six months in 1970.  Also what happened in Victorian Times when Europe came close to running out of silver and silver coins. At that time silver was all that the Chinese would accept as money in exchange  for their very much desired  luxury products, obtainable from nowhere else.  Also, how Dutch sailors disproved the advice given by so many mothers that. ‘Money does not grow on trees you know! ’   For them, it did!

This talk lasts just over an hour and hopefully will provoke some discussion from the audience. Entry is £3 and all proceeds will be donated to FOASS towards repairs to the Church fabric.


February 7
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Gerald Jenkins