Generally speaking, most people around the world understand what currency, as well as credit and debt, are. In the United States, as well as most countries in the world, currency is made up of bills and coins. However, some currency is certainly considered strange.
Not all currency can fit into a small purse or pocket. Giant circular lime stones with a hole in the center are called Rai stones. These stones are found on the island of Yap in Micronesia as currency. The monstrous coins are generally between 5 to 20 feet in diameter, with their value dependent on their size and weight, as well as the difficulty of transporting them. Value was also affected by the stones particular history, including the number of people killed or injured while transporting them.
In what once was the Katanga region of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, copper crosses, called Katanga crosses, were used as currency for a short period of time. The crosses weighed between a half a pound to 2.5 pounds.
The Manchukuo yuan currency was used by Japanese Imperial forces during their occupation of Manchuria. This currency (1 fen and 5 fen coins) was actually made of red or brown cardboard between 1944 and 1945 due to the lack of metal. Metal, of course, was being used for the war.
Kissi Money was used in several west African regions until the 20th century. The twisted iron bards had a "T" shape at one end and a spatula shape on the other. If an iron rod broke, it could no longer be used unless restored in a special ceremony by the Zoe, or traditional witchdoctor.
German Wooden Money
Several West African regions used Kissi money until the 20th century. The twisted iron bards had a “T” shape at one end and a spatula shape on the other. If an iron rod broke, it could no longer be used unless restored in a special ceremony by the Zoe, or traditional witchdoctor.
US Death Threat Dollars
Long before the Secret Service, Colonial Americans dealt with counterfeiters with strongly – worded threats. All 13 colonies printed “to counterfeit is death” as a threat on their currency.
The Hungarian 100 Million Billion Dollar Bill
Rampant inflation in 1946 Hungary lead to the bill with the highest denomination ever, the 100 million, billion Pengo, worth about 20 American pennies.
The Tugrik Record-a-Coin
In memory of a great American leader, the 2007 Mongolian 500 Tugrik coin has President John F. Kennedy on one side, with a tiny button that if pressed, plays a sound bite from his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.
Zaire's Cut Out Bills
Why waste good money! In 1997, when the strong-arm dictator and killer Josepeh Sese Seko Mobutu was finally overthrown in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo,) the new government simply cut his image out of their existing currency and continued to use it until new currency could be printed.
Palau Holy Water Coins
The island nation of Palau issued a silver dollar coin in 2007 with the image of Virgin Mary. What is unusual about this coin is that embedded in the metal is a tiny vial containing holy water from Lourdes, France,
Zimbabwe's 46 Million dollar Dollar
As Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed, it was reported that 1 US dollar could be exchanged for 46 million Zimbabwean revalued dollars in parallel markets. The currency was suspended as of 2009.
World's Smallest Coin
The smallest coin historically is the Quarter silver Tara of Vijayanagar, which weighs just .06 grams and has a diameter of 4 mm. Much smaller than the 2 pence coin!
World's Largest Legal Tender (Oh Canada!)
Canada has released the largest piece of legal tender in the world. The $1 million Canadian dollar is made of 99.999% gold bullion and weighs 220 pounds. It sells for more than twice it’s face value although this value fluctuates with the price of gold.