posted on Aug, 11 2014 @ 03:16 AM
There's an interview with a Yap Islander whose basically the man in charge of preserving the culture of the Micronesian islands. Man, even the name
of the islands conjures visions of pale blue shores and white beaches...
Q : What determines the value of a piece of stone money?
There are several factors which determine the value of stone money. The first is the number of human lives that were lost on the journey to bring the
stone home. The second is the kind of workmanship. Some of the more modern stones look highly polished, which has been achieved with the help of
modern metal tools but they are less valuable than the ones that look less highly polished. This is because the earlier stones were finished with
shell tools, which makes them more valuable. Another factor is whether the stone was dedicated to the chief who sponsored the trip to Palau. Size is
also a factor, but in some cases a small stone can be more valuable than a larger stone.
Interestingly, a Western man, David O Keefe, washed ashore and managed to accelerate the importance of the tokens into an inflationary period that
brought an end to the 'stone coins.'
Read the rest of the interview here (BBC)
Q: When did these voyages cease?
[...]David O'Keefe became very powerful and was even given a small island. He gained his influence by helping the Yapese to obtain their stone money
more easily. He imported foreign metal tools from Hong Kong and other parts of the East so the stones could be quarried and finished more easily. And
in exchange for copra which the local people sold him, he provided big ships which could transport the stones from Palau and Guam more easily. But the
problem was that this ease of transportation caused the stones to be inflated and the people to reconsider whether it was valuable and whether it was
important to keep bringing it to Yap. So in the end it was stopped, during the German administration.
The age of the stone token ended under inflation and they swapped over to the dollar (which is so dependable lol). It seems that whatever we regard as
a paradise, human society cannot grow for long without having to invent a token value (currency) and market forces are always influencing us.