Leather bags were used as money in the ancient
city of Carthage, where the idea was that rather than make all coins of small
amounts of silver, they would make the significant majority completely of
cheap alloy, and the occasional one of pure silver. The coins - including the
duds - were then sealed by the state in a leather bag, granted a face value
equivalent to silver, and deemed worthless if the seal on the bag was broken.
This apparent curiosity is not so very
different from a modern day state lottery scratchcard.
The system lasted for about 50 years and fell
into disuse at the end of the 5th century BC when the increased military
success of the Carthaginians - who had invaded Spain - allowed an increased
supply of gold and silver from Spanish mines, which became the practical
currency probably because it felt real. Not unlike the Ionians who preceded
them - the Carthaginian empire collapsed through Romans attacking them at
least in part for their gold. The resulting Punic wars ended with Carthage
being totally destroyed for ever.
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