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Fun on Friday: What a Find!

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I would make the world’s worst archeologist. I’m just not good at finding things. I’m the guy who stares into the cabinet right at the salt shaker and then asks his wife, “Where’s the salt.” So, yeah, a job that involved searching for stuff that has been hidden for hundreds or even thousands of years is not for me. But I have to admit, it would be a pretty cool job. I mean, imagine finding thousands of coins.

That happened not too long ago. Archeologists found a stash of gold and silver coins in a field near Újlengyel, a Hungarian village about 31 miles southeast of Budapest.

The archeologists dug through a small shaft and unearthed a broken vessel. They think a farmer probably hit it with a plow at some point. Too bad the plow didn’t pull the container to the surface because some poor farmer missed out on finding about 7,000 silver coins and four gold coins. The silver had fallen out of the vessel and was scattered throughout the shaft. The four gold coins were hidden under the fabric lining of the vessel.

According to a report on LiveScience, archeologists think somebody buried the coins to hide them from attacking Ottoman raiders in the 16th century. The fact that the coins were still in the ground in 2021 leads me to believe that the whole thing didn’t end well for the poor villagers. It seems unlikely they would have just left that much money buried in the ground.

So, how much money was it?

Well, I’m glad you asked. According to the report, the silver would have bought about seven horses back in the day. Today, the silver would buy you a luxury car. I’m assuming they weren’t talking luxury horses back in the 16th century.

The treasure trove included an interesting mix of coins.

The oldest coin is a silver denarius, or a Roman silver coin of Roman emperor Lucius Verus, who ruled from A.D.161 to A.D. 169. The newest coins in the hoard date to the time of Louis II, who ruled Hungary and Bohemia from 1516 to 1526. … Other finds included a rare coin issued by Pope Pius who ruled from 1458 to 1464 and silver coins issued during the reigns of several other 15th and 16th century rulers.”

The four gold coins were issued during the reign of Matthias I, the king of Hungary from 1458 to 1490.

Here’s what’s interesting to me: these coins were all issued by different rulers/governments but that didn’t matter. The value wasn’t in where the money came from. The value was in the money itself. Gold and silver were money. It didn’t matter who issued or “backed” the coins. It didn’t even matter if that government exited anymore. Money was worth what it was worth based on the metal itself.

Think of it this way — if I happened to find some buried Confederate currency, it would be worthless, except for its historical value, right? I couldn’t go to Walmart and plop it down in exchange for a Kit Kat and a Coke.

Or imagine if I was digging around and found a bag of 1,000 Mexican pesos. Sounds great right? But it would only be worth about $50 US dollars. When it comes to modern fiat, you have to do all kinds of conversions and math to figure out how much a currency is actually worth. I don’t like doing math. That’s why I write for a living. But when gold and silver were money, it didn’t matter. Those coins bought seven horses no matter which ruler or government issued those coins.

Here’s a thought, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let the government have complete control over the money.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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