Commodity Trading Broker

A Brief Chronicle

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The history of money is both long and alluring. During the 4th century B.C., Greek soldiers competed in annual military games for the prized Syracuse Decca-Drachma. This two ounce silver coin is emblazon with the head of Nike, the goddess of victory, and is still treasured not only as a store of value, but as one of the most famous masterpieces of coin-engraver's art.

Art gave way to necessity as the Swedish government minted "plate money" from 1644 to 1776. This huge and cumbersome coinage was necessitated both by a lack of silver, and an overabundance of copper in Scandinavia. These coins were not popular from the moment they were first introduced, both because of their sheer size and weight. Any sum of them constituted a considerable effort to move around as special sleds were designed to act as "wallets" during shopping trips. The largest of these pieces issued were the 10 Daler coins during the 17th century. These measured 13" long by 25" wide and weighed in at a whopping 44 lbs each.

Examples of artistic endeavor and necessity in coinage are not rare as the gradual progression of mercantilism spread throughout the world. However, it is widely accepted that the use of wooden "tally sticks", in medieval England, provides the origin of the monetary exchange system that most investors would recognize today. Tally sticks represent the earliest form of bookkeeping. The Royal Exchequer, in London, used them for over six hundred years from the twelfth century to the mid 1800s. Since the notches for the sums collected were cut right through both pieces of wood and no stick splits in an even manner, the method was virtually foolproof against forgery.

"Sheriffs" used them to collect taxes and to remit them to the King. They were also used by private individuals and institutions, to register debts, record fines, collect rents, and so forth. Impressively, by the thirteenth century, the financial market for tally sticks was sufficiently sophisticated that they could be bought, sold, discounted, and even traded on a forward delivery basis. With this evolution of monetary technologies originating with the English tally sticks, it is little wonder that modern London is the home to over 450 foreign owned banks, and handles more than 30% of the world's daily foreign exchange transactions (more turnover than New York and Tokyo combined).

As we move ever further into the new millennium, rapid advancements in Internet technology have allowed multi-national corporations, institutions, and private investors alike, nanosecond access to trade every currency cross rate from the Australian dollar to the Zambian kwacha. And while Swedish plate money, tally sticks, Syracuse Decca-Drachmas, and the like, have all rightfully found their way into museums, foreign exchange dealers continue trade over $1 trillion a day; confident in the knowledge that the world is no closer to a single global currency today, that it was over 2,000 years ago. Therein lies the essence of the opportunity of trading foreign exchange.