World History


A World History of Paper Currency


The First Western Forms of Paper Money


All early forms of paper currency in the Western Hemisphere occurred during times of war or other emergency situations.

The first instance of paper money in Europe occurred in Spain in 1438. During a Moor invasion, a Spanish military leader issued some paper money to soldiers that circulated all over his city. No known notes have survived.

In 1574, the Dutch city of Leyden issued cardboard coins minted from the cover or prayer books while Holland was trying to regain its independence from the invading Spanish. The Italian city of Candia later issued its only paper money complete with different denominations. It was issued to citizens after the city's Superintendent recalled all gold and silver. After a shipment of coins arrived from Venice, all notes were fully reimbursed.

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