I was discussing in a forum recently about the value of precious metals during precolonial times.
As you probably know, Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency. By today’s definition of currency, it wasn’t so much an actual currency as it was a valued consumable good. Still, it is true that it was used to trade for goods and services. The list of prices in cocoa beans makes it clear that even then, gold was still pretty valuable and expensive within its economy, with half a kilo of gold only being beaten by selling ones own children.
A 1545 list of commodity prices in Tlaxcala gives an idea of the purchasing value of cacao:
1 good turkey hen=100 cacao beans
1 turkey egg=3 cacao beans
1 fully ripe avocado=1 cacao bean
large strip of pine bark for kindling = 5 cacao beans
1 large tomato=1 cacao bean
pumpkin = 4 beans
5 long narrow green chiles = 1 cacao bean
small rabbit = 30 cacao beans
0.62kg gold statue = 250 beans
ones own child sells for about 600 cacao beans.
“ordinary” person’s yearly standard of living=4800 cacao beans
Quachtli (large white cotton cloaks)=60-240 cacao beans depending on quality/size.
Quachtli (cotton cloaks) where used as currency as well, used to pay for more expensive items along with copper axe-blades, or quills full of gold dust while cocoa beans were ‘the every day small change’.
1 x dugout canoe = 1 x quachtli
100 sheets of paper = 1 x quachtli
1 x gold lip plug = 25 x quachtli
1 x warrior’s costume and shield = about 64 x quachtli
1 x feather cloak = 100 x quachtli
1 x string of jade beads = 600 x quachtli
Cocoa beans where even counterfeited, like todays currency, making fake cocoa beans with wax, dirt and other beans.
There’s just no way around it. If anyone wants to own gold and silver, you either pay dearly for it or go find it, mine it and smelt it. All of this requires considerable labour, thus the status of scarce and precious.
2016 American Silver Eagle (1 oz) Five Coins Brilliant Uncirculated
If you’re just getting started gold and silver should be the least of your concerns. The basic gear and supplies mentioned here often. A Glock, a good rifle, emergency supplies and a respectable stockpile of food and water should be your main concern. In terms of wealth a stash of cash comes before precious metals too. But once that’s covered, if you want insurance against inflation or you just want a proven form a wealth storage, PM is worth considering.
Take care folks,
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.