Eventually, they hit upon a plan: using playing cards as a type of banknote until the real money arrived. It was, in short, sheer lunacy. If your bosses suggested that they'd be paying you in scrip-esque business cards, you'd sooner go on a looting spree than face spinning this as a good thing to your landlord. Still, it's not like anyone had a choice beyond accepting the situation (and the fact that their wages smelt like old gin) or starving.
Bank of Canada
They did the polite thing and gave in.
Surprisingly, this crazy plan worked. Once their real money arrived, the playing cards could be exchanged and the system went back to normal ... until the next shipment was delayed, whereupon the cards were used again (in 1686) and again (in 1690). In fact, the only real issues were the potential for counterfeiting and figuring out how to play Texas Hold 'Em when the cards double as money.
Booze Was The Lifeblood Of Several Empires
We don't know whether to be awestruck or slightly nihilistic that one of the most popular forms of currency throughout history is a substance that completely removes you from the world and enhances any not-shit experience into an orgy of mental delirium. There was polio and executions and the rampant nastiness that inspired Game Of Thrones, sure, but were things really that bad?
Back in days of yore, alcohol -- in most cases, beer -- was all but the only game in town when it came to getting paid for a hard day's work. When the ruins of the ancient city of Uruk, Mesopotamia were uncovered, archaeologists discovered (alongside the ghosts) a proto-paycheck entitling some Sector-7B(C) worker drone to a set amount of beer, as well as a shitload of bread to soak it up afterwards. It was the same deal in ancient Egypt. In return for helping with the construction of the pyramids, each worker was given several liters of beer per day, and this was often handed out while they were working. We used to think that the people who built the pyramids were slaves. The reality, however, was less Django Unchained and more Animal House.
"No one asked them to do this. They just got wasted and started piling things."
Australia, meanwhile, had an economy entirely built upon rum. From 1792, it became commonplace for officers with the New South Wales Corps to swoop in and buy every drop of rum coming into the country via trading ship, before turning around and selling it to the unwillingly sober colonists at inflated prices. It only took a short while for rum to depose money as the dominant currency. Workers would be paid in rum, farmers would be forced to sell their crops for rum, and the NSW Corps -- who soon renamed themselves "the Rum Corps" -- made a tidy profit off the alcoholic apocalypse that they'd caused. You don't need to be told that these guys were British, do you?
National Library of Australia
60 percent of history involves drunkenly resenting the British.
Using beer as currency isn't only an old-timey practice, either. It happened as recently as the 1980s in Angola, after their currency, the kwanza, swan-dived faster than a post-Brexit economy. With consumer prices inflated by a factor of millions, a black market beer economy soon sprang up to fill in the "not letting people starve to death" gap. It was such a success that the government even joined in. Using their diplomatic connections, officials would import foreign beers and sell them on the black market for premium prices, proving that hipsterism is always the strongest force in any financial market.
When they aren't rocking your world with bad puns and weird history (the best kind of history!), Marina and Adam can be found on Twitter.
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