The majority of the world once dealt using the same currency. No! Not dollars, gold coins.
The name and shape of the coin differed from one place to the other, but the concept is the same. It was all made of gold, either pure or mixed with silver.
It all started in a town called Lydia in the Greek empire of Anatolia (Turkey). King Croesus issued the first gold coin. It was an electrum, a mixture of gold and silver. It was a major breakthrough in the history of the nations. It marked the point where people stopped relying on themselves for survival and started needing each other. A little while later, the Persians captured King Croesus. They admired the idea and copied it in their own countries, they issued gold drahms. It was the most valuable Persian minted coin. Then came Alexander the Great, who conquered some Persian cities, since the fight was ongoing between the Greeks and the Persians. He copied the idea as well and it travelled to the Indo-Greek Bactrian Empire near India.
The Indo-Greek kings started issuing gold coins. The first to start was Antiochus the second. The coin had the king’s bust on one side and an image of Apollo (the Greek god of arts) on the other side. Apollo was holding a bow in an arm, and an arrow in the other. After Antiochus the second, more Indo-Greek kings issued gold coins, but they weren’t as popular as Vima Kadphesis, whose gold coins thrived and spread through the world. They had Lord Shiva’s image on them (an important god in Hinduism) and no longer carried marks or signs of the Greek empire.
China had its share of gold coins as well. They issued the Ying Yuan. However, the most popular gold coins after Vima’s dinar were the German guilder, the Italian florin, and the Venetian ducat. Most of Europe traded using gold, till Spain looted tons of gold coins causing an economic inflation. The inflation resulted in a lot of rules and restrictions that were applied on the issuing of gold coins. England confiscated lots of gold coins from all over the world as forced loans, so everyone started marking their own gold to escape the payment.
The English sovereign, which had the nominal value of the sterling pound, was valid and on demand till the First World War. After that they started issuing paper money. So, the rest of the world followed including America.
The issuing of banknote was first fixed to the amount of gold coins the country owns, but then by the peak of World War one, European countries had to evoke the standard in order to have the ability to print as much money as they want so they can be able to support their armies.
Since then, paper money started losing value, and gold coins started gaining it. It became a hobby for antique lovers and coin collectors to buy gold coins. It also became a manner of gifting. A lot of occasions around the world rely on gold coins as a part of its traditions…but that’s another topic.