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The History of Money in America: From Beads to Virtual Currency

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The first settlers in Pre-Revolutionary America were faced with a problem. There was a shortage of money in the colonies, and England prohibited settlers from minting their own coinage.

To get around this, settlers used established foreign currencies such Dutch guilders or the Spanish pieces of eight. They also began to adopt the traditional trading methods of Native Americans, who had been exchanging goods for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans.

Wampum as a Currency

Wampum, or beads that were strung together, was often used as a medium of exchange for both Native American tribes and settlers during this Pre-Revolutionary era. Other commodities were also used for trade: furs, tobacco, wheat, and maize were all currencies of exchange.

As an interesting side note, wampum had tremendous inflation issues. Some tribes, such as the Narragansetts, were better at producing the beads than others. Many settlers also started comprehensive wampum manufacturing operations, and the beads were created at such a rate that they began to lose value in trade quickly.

Where does the storied history of money in the United States go from here? Today’s infographic highlights many interesting aspects of it, moving from beads all the way to virtual currency:

The History of Money in America: From Beads to Virtual Currency

Image courtesy of: JPMorgan Chase

In the modern era, the concept of “money” is changing right before our eyes.

Throughout most of the history of money, it has been a tactile thing. Whether we’re talking about strange currencies such as cacao beans or wampum beads that were traded in the past, or we’re looking at more modern concepts of coinage, money has traditionally been something physical. Bank accounts, cheques, credit cards, and future digital technologies would eventually rise to prominence, making money much more abstract.

Today, everything is digital in nature.

With a few clicks, money can be created or moved around. Bitcoin and the blockchain ecosystem have evolved as new technologies that may also have a significant impact on the future of money.

The history of money in America, and the world, is constantly changing. It’s beautiful and scary all at the same time.

Original graphic by: JPMorgan Chase

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Mining

Visualizing the New Era of Gold Mining

This infographic highlights the need for new gold mining projects and shows the next generation of America’s gold deposits.

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The following content is sponsored by NOVAGOLD

Visualizing the New Era of Gold Mining

Between 2011 and 2020, the number of major gold discoveries fell by 70% relative to 2001-2010. 

The lack of discoveries, alongside stagnating gold production, has cast a shadow of doubt on the future of gold supply. 

This infographic sponsored by NOVAGOLD highlights the need for new gold mining projects with a focus on the company’s Donlin Gold project in Alaska.

The Current State of Gold Production

Between 2010 and 2019, gold production increased steadily, though this growth has stagnated over the past few years.

YearGold Production, tonnesYoY % Change
20102,560-
20112,6603.9%
20122,6901.1%
20132,8004.1%
20142,9906.8%
20153,1003.7%
20163,1100.3%
20173,2303.9%
20183,3002.2%
20193,3000.0%
20203,030-8.2%
20213,0902.0%
20223,1000.3%

 Along with a small decrease in gold production in 2020, there were no new major gold discoveries in 2021.

The fall in production and long-term lack of gold discoveries point towards a possible imbalance in gold supply and demand. This calls for the introduction of new gold development projects that can fill the supply-demand gap in the future. 

Sustaining Supply: Gold for the Future

Jurisdictions play an important role when looking for projects that could sustain gold production well into the future.

From political stability to trustworthy legal systems, the characteristics of a jurisdiction can make or break mining projects. Amid ongoing market uncertainty, political turmoil, and resource nationalism, projects in safe jurisdictions offer a better investment opportunity for investors and mining companies. 

Today, 10 of the top 15 mining jurisdictions for investment are located in North America, according to the Fraser Institute report published in 2023. 

A Golden Opportunity

Located in Alaska, one of the world’s safest mining jurisdictions, NOVAGOLD’s 50% owned Donlin Gold project has the highest average grade of gold among major development projects in the Americas. For every tonne of ore, Donlin Gold offers 2.24 grams of gold, which is more than twice the global average grade of 1.04g/t. 

Additionally, Donlin Gold is the second-largest gold-focused development project in the Americas, with over 39 million ounces of gold in M&I resources inclusive of reserves. 

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NOVAGOLD is focused on the Donlin Gold project in equal partnership with Barrick Gold.
Learn more about Donlin Gold 
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