1. Without looking, tell me whose picture is on a one dollar bill. What about a five dollar bill? If you know these, maybe you know the pictures on a ten, twenty or even a fifty dollar bill. If you're not sure, someone could give you a "phony" bill with the wrong picture and you'd never know the difference.
2. Do you know where the pictures on money came from? In the early days people made payments by the weight of their silver or gold. (Just think how much time you save now by paying for things with a coin or bill. You don't have to weigh out so many ounces of gold. That would surely slow down the normal pace of business today.)
3. However, the ancient Greeks and Romans used coins of a definite value like our dime or quarter. At that time, animals were pictured on the coins. You won't think that this is so unusual if you examine a nickel and see the buffalo on the back of it.
4. A little later, though, the Greeks and Romans began to put pictures of famous people on their coins. It took some time to develop a central money-making business. Because of this, people would sometimes put pictures of their own ancestors on their coins. Even though this may have been confusing at times, it's easier than trading animals for things that you need. Imagine receiving a cow as change for something you have just bought! It's much simpler to carry a purse or a wallet than to exchange one thing for another.
5. The use of coins and money grew just as civilization advanced. As time passed, civilization became much more complicated. Now a person works for a certain amount of money so that he can pay for food and clothing. He does not need to grow his own food. We're in an age of specialization. We don't have time to make our own clothes and shoes, so money is a way of trading today.
6. When we use money today, however, the actual value of the coin itself does not equal its face value. For example, a dime may not have ten cents' worth of silver in it. The paper in a dollar bill may not be worth a full dollar. Well, you might ask, how is it worth anything? The answer is that money is like a medal. It's not the money itself, but what it stands for, that gives it its value. An Olympic runner wins a medal. It is actually not worth very much, but it's the idea behind it that counts to him. It's like the half dollar in your pocket. It's what it will buy that counts, not its actual weight.
7. Money making is much more complicated now than it has ever been. That's one reason why it's harder to get away with making counterfeit money these days.