Money of the Good Old Days

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To use the language of a pioneer, “money was pure (very rare) in their day.” And they had such a variety of criteria that they rarely knew the value of their money or how its value fluctuated. If someone suggested a deal, the answer often came in the query, “What kind of money did you get?” The answer might be, “Government money,” but it’s more likely to be “state money” or “Kentucky money” or some other kind of money, or more likely it’s just a general statement of what he should do in a trade. Leather and other items had a value that was placed on them and passed as currency. Debts were made and paid with them. In some areas, banknotes were offered promising lots of saddles for venison at a given time. Elsewhere, cattle were the standard of value. They are classified as ‘first class’, ‘second class’ and ‘third class’. A first class cow and calf was worth ten dollars in state money. The second class was worth eight dollars and the third was worth six dollars.

Thus all property was classified, and if a man deliberately misclassified his property, he was considered what we call a “fraud” and it was difficult to get people to trade with him. Neighbors were sometimes called in to appraise their goods. The judgment of these neighbors was law and there was no appeal against their decision. Milk, butter, eggs, beef, pork, venison, etc. were distributed among the neighbors for their own use, but for the market they had value—pork, beef, and venison about half a cent per pound, eggs about three cents a dozen, and butter, if any, three cents per pound. This is the kind of money they had to pay the “butcher, baker, and candle-maker,” and the preacher too, but they were their butchers, bakers and candle-makers and some of them were the preacher. Waller

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