T h e F i r s t G o l d S t a n d a r d.
Some of you will surely think of the gold standard as something
that was introduced in 1798 via the British after they had
acquired Brazilian gold through brilliant trade agreements with
Portugal. Then again, some of you may remember when gold was
$35.00 and ounce and was backed by the U.S. Treasury...and for
you folks..."that" was the Gold Standard and America had invented
it. But nay nay, my friends...the gold standard, backed by paper
money, began a wee bit earlier.
Back we go folks...to the thirteenth century. One of the great
successors of Genghis Khan...a chap by the name of Kublai ruled
the court at Peking. Marco Polo visited the Kublai Khan one day
and stayed seventeen years. Talk about overstaying your welcome.
Marco had surely never heard of that old saw about fish and
guests beginning to stink after three days.
Great emperor of China that he was, Kublai gathered regal
riches. On New Year's Day, nobles and peons alike sent him gifts.
On one occasion, he received as gifts, 100,000 horses and 500
elephants, all laden with golden embroidered blankets and
carrying chests filled with gold. And yet...the Chinese..at least
under his rule...were not salivating at golden troughs at the
very mention of this yellow metal. Gold, and silver, were not for
ornamentation. Well...not completely. No sirree, Khan. Gold and
silver were nothing more than vehicles for payment of debts. But
the stuff was heavy, and how much could you actually carry
Marco Polo was dumbfounded. Wherever he went, the Chinese were
using, now get this...they were using paper money. Masses and
masses of paper money was being distributed throughout the
empire, and nary a soul thought twice about accepting it as
payment in lieu of precious metal. Their paper money was as good
as...well...ours. And it was backed by their mint. Anyone who
wanted to, could simply pop on over and turn in his paper
currency and get in return its value in gold.
Ahh...modernism...will it never stop reaching its ever
stretching tentacles into the past?
And there ya have it.
That's it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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