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Numismatic Collection :  Early Money

Animal Money, Tin; Cockerel-shaped.


This earliest form of local currency was made of solid blocks of tin metal or ingots of a standard size and weight. The tin ingots were minted in the shape of animals and insects, such as crocodiles, elephants, cockerels, tortoises and grasshoppers. These models were believed to be made under the supervision of magicians for use in religious ceremonies. It was also believed that they were used as counterweights to measure tin ingots or merchandise. The animal money may have been brought to the Malay Peninsula from Burma or Siam. As they were not widely used, they were believed to be toys or ornaments.

See also: 3D QuickTime image of this item.