curency

Rai, or stone money, are large, circular stone disks carved out of limestone formed from aragonite and calcite crystals, Rai stones were mined in Palau and transported for use to the island of Yap, Micronesia. They have been used in trade by the locals and are described by some observers as a form of currency.

Rai stones are circular disks with a hole in the middle. The size of the stones varies widely: the largest are 3.6 meters (12 ft) in diameter, 0.5 meters (1.5 ft) thick and weigh 4 metric tons (8,800 lb). The largest rai stone is located in Rumung island, near Riy village. Smaller rai stones might have a diameter of 7 - 8 centimetres.

The extrinsic (perceived) value of a specific stone is based not only on its size and craftsmanship but also on the history of the stone. If many people — or no one at all — died when the specific stone was transported, or a famous sailor brought it in, the value of the rai stone increases.

Rai stones were and still are used in rare, important social transactions such as marriage, inheritance, political deals, sign of an alliance, ransom of the battle dead or, rarely, in exchange for food. Many of them are placed in front of meetinghouses or along pathways. MORE.

This necklace made from vintage parts caters to you! Flip either coin to face forward. Adjust the necklace and wear it long, or as a choker. The 24" bronze chain is looped through an antique trade token and ends with a reproduction French coin salvaged from a vintage belt. 

A Little History About Trade Tokens

About 1885, merchants all over the United States started using a form of advertising called a trade token (or chit, or bingle, or “good for”). When a customer bought something, they were given a token that resembled a coin. On the obverse, the token gave such information as the name of the business, address, town, state, etc. On the reverse, something like “good for 5¢ in trade” or “good for 1 cigar” were often used. When the customer returned to the store, they were given credit or their purchase was discounted by the amount stated on the token.

The sizes, shapes and materials that were used to make trade tokens varied widely. The sizes ranged from smaller than a dime to larger than a silver dollar. Common shapes were round, square, scalloped, oval and rectangular. (The majority were round.) Although most tokens were bronze or aluminum, other materials such as paper, fiber, zinc, copper and bi-metals (bronze and aluminum) were also used.

The merchandise that the token was “good for” would make an interesting collection of its own. Some of the common “good fors” were in trade, in merchandise, in cash, a cigar, a pint or a quart of milk, a tune, a shave, and a drink. Many others such as 1 box of peaches, one card game, 1 pack of cranberries, one manicure and one loaf of bread are known.

Some collectors have assembled interesting collections of the different denominations represented on tokens. The most common would be “good for 5¢ in trade,” with 2½¢, 6¼¢, 10¢, 12½¢, 25¢, 50¢ and $1.00 also reasonably common and easily found. Although many other denominations exist, they are harder to come by and often command a premium.