What would you take on a desert island?

A Review of Dorling Kindersley ‘Eyewitness’ series, Book: Money.
ISBN: 9781465451798
Author: Joe Cribb
(Re-)Published: 14 Jun 2016 (?)

So I stayed at my parents’ home recently and decided to check out this book I had when I was about 8. We also had the “Minerals”, “Birds”, “Musical Instruments”, “Ancient people” and “Religions” parts of the series.

I must say the books look beautiful, just extraordinary. Like the rest of them, this one was compiled with the help of the British Museum. Very informative and almanac in nature. The “Eye-witness” series is for ages 8-12 and so I recommend them.

Dorling Kindersley (DK) is a British multinational publishing company specializing in illustrated reference books for adults and children in 62 languages.

What I would like now is to read out the introduction to the book, and give its headlines.

What is money?

It is hard to imagine our world without money. Every country – has it’s own monetary system. We find mentions of it in the most ancient textual accounts.
But what is money? To us, today, it is coins, bills, plastic cards. A bank account is also money, although it can’t be touched or be seen, it can be spent just like the ones you keep in pockets. In some countries, until recent past, money was feather, stones, pearls and shells (pg. 8-9). What allows us to call all of this “money”? The fact that all these objects were or are now a way of paying.

  • What is money?
  • Is this- also money?
  • The First coins
  • First paper money
  • How coins are made
  • How banknotes are made
  • Forgeries and fakes
  • Money and trade
  • Money and war
  • Power of money
  • A million dollars!

Then goes a list of nations with their examples of monetary systems:
United States of America, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal, Greece and Turkey, Denmark and Norway, Switzerland and Finland, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, China and Japan, Africa.

  • Money Storage
  • Checks and plastic cards
  • Collecting coins
  • Money in different countries
  • Index

This book is a brilliant example of the “Two corridor school” system, that maintains a power differential in society;
The children that will study this book will gain only practical knowledge concerning money:
How to spend it, make it, design it, store it, make a hobby of it. What is it’s relation to status and how all trade and wars are based on it directly.

Making it “The way it’s always been”.

There is no abstract knowledge related to the concept of money here. They will not ever know the way a monetary system actually works. How commerce works, what is intrinsic value and how it differs from money. what is the classic gold standard and why is it no more practiced.

I find it sickly funny how the very suggestion to the “Barter” definition by Google is:
-exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using the money.
“he often bartered a meal for drawings”.
Makes it kinda hopeless for the artists among us.

The ancient Judaic teachings, Mishna (Bava Metzia, Mem-Daled / Bet), state that money is to be considered a currency- like a metric system. Therefore, it couldn’t possibly be “raised” or “lowered”. It is a single unit of measure.
The reason? “For the currency is in the hands of the ruler. Be it his will, he orders the issuing of a new set of money. Somehow reminds of a resource-based economy opposing Feudalism.

On page 38 my gaze fell on the illustration of Robinson Crusoe with his loyal dog, the sole literary reference in the whole book. The quoted text beneath it read:

“I went on the wrecked ship….
Noticed a cupboard… with drawers…
One of them contained Pesos and… 6 golden Doubloons.”

This made me mad. It was outraging.
Before checking the original text I already knew what message was intended in those stingy lines: To state that a man in a position like in Defoe’s roman- a man surviving in the wilderness, seeking shelter, fighting for his sanity as well as his life, practicing risk-taking agriculture and using essentially anything to keep him alive- would find it encouraging in some weird way to gain a few bags filled with coins.

For the record- the original text from CHAPTER XIII – WRECK OF A SPANISH SHIP,
tells us that on the unmanned vessel, Robinson first met his ally dog,
Found several containers of alcoholic beverage,
four pounds of gunpowder,
coal spatula and chimney tongs,
Two copper pots,
Copper coffee pot and a grill,

In the two big chests, he took were, again, some beverage, succades, or sweetmeats, some shirts of appropriate size, a dozen and a half of white linen handkerchiefs and colored neckcloths. Then, and only then are the treasured bags of coins briefly described.
In the other chest were some clothes but of little value to Crusoe,
and two pounds of fine glazed powder.

Defoe concludes the scroll of findings:
“Upon the whole, I got very little by this voyage that was of any use to me; for, as to the money, I had no manner of occasion for it; it was to me as the dirt under my feet, and I would have given it all for three or four pair of English shoes and stockings, which were things I greatly wanted, but had had none on my feet for many years. I had, indeed, got two pair of shoes now, which I took off the feet of two drowned men whom I saw in the wreck, and I found two pair more in one of the chests, which were very welcome to me;”

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