Commodity Money Definition

we can define Commodity money as a physical good that consumers universally usage to profession for other goods. In various other words, it is favor the money we usage today, but has an really value. For example, yellow was supplied as money, but also in the manufacturing of jewellery. For this reason it had actually value external its use as a tool of exchange. In economics, this is well-known as ‘intrinsic value’.

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Commodity money is unique in the feeling that that is the only kind of money that has an underlying value. Also though us no longer use products such together gold as a form of money; the still has value as jewelry or gilding.


key Points A commodity money is a physical an excellent that has ‘intrinsic value’ – a use exterior of its usage as money. Historic examples include alcohol, cocoa beans, copper, gold, silver, salt, sea shells, tea, and also tobacco. There are four main attributes of commodity money – it’s durable, divisible, conveniently exchangeable, and also rare.

We have the right to see, touch, and feel commodity money – the is physical. The underlying worth ensures that people trust it. That means it has actually value in and also of itself, with civilization trading it easily in the knowledge that someone will certainly accept it.

through contrast, other creates of money only derive value from the trust world place in it. Because that example, the $10 note in her pocket is unlikely to buy lot in the unlikely event the US’ stops making use of it together its key currency.


origins of Commodity Money

The background of commodity money extends beyond centuries and also millennia. In fact, its origins are virtually impossible to accurately determine. Nevertheless, over there are documents that indicate activity during the duration 700-500BC when gold ended up being a common form of money.

Photo of gold coins originally provided by Lydian Merchants
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Source: wikiwand | licensed under creative Commons License.

during this period, Lydian merchants developed a yellow coin combined with silver; otherwise known as electrum. Your aim to be to help improve the performance of trading between countries. It to be a beneficial store of value, it was durable, and it was commonly accepted in between nations. Later, in 550 B.C., under the bespeak of King Croesus that Lydia, it went into full circulation.

Commodity Money Examples

no all commodity money is make the same. Numerous have been tried and also failed due to a variety of factors, but here room a perform of part commodity monies that have actually been offered through history:

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Some instances of Commodity money include:

AlcoholCocoa BeansCopperGoldSaltSea ShellsSilverTeaTobacco

4 qualities of Commodity Money

us have currently seen what commodity money is and why people trust it, however let’s dive in and also see what attributes it has.

1. Durable

assets such together meat would not be reliable as they go poor over time. Similarly, metals such as iron would certainly not suffice as it rusts easily. If the commodity can not retain the intrinsic value, then the trust in that won’t last.

2. Divisible / Measurable

We have to have a specific way of measuring money. The creation of systems of dimensions such as ounces and also pounds led the method for such. As a result, we are able come purchase various goods at different prices. If we cannot measure up money, us cannot measure how much we are willing come pay. If over there was only a $50 note in circulation; it provides it incredibly complicated to to buy something at $1.

3. Quickly Exchangeable

Nobody wants the inconvenience of taking a cow come market. The is far more convenient to use gold coins that are much lighter and also easier come carry. The commodities that have actually historically taken off room all easy to trade and also convenient.

4. Rarity

A commodity money has to be rare in the truth that the supply is limited. Without such, money have the right to become nearly unlimited – thereby leading to huge levels that inflation. Nevertheless, the money supply needs to still have the ability to react come increasing financial output. The is to say, the commodity supply must have the ability to react to raising demand. So when the economic situation starts to grow; the commodity must have the ability to supplied and also represent the new goods in the market.

Trust in Commodity Money

In financial terms, commodity money has what is known as an ‘intrinsic value’. This method that it has actually a value external of its use as money. Therefore, noþeles that has actually an alternate use can be taken into consideration a commodity kind of money.


The ‘intrinsic value’ the commodity is a vital part of structure its trust. We can look ago many century to when items such as tobacco or salt were used as money. World would usage them to trade with each other as lock were generally used goods. Also if nobody would accept it, the owner can use that for their purposes. For this reason if who went to sector with a lb of tobacco and also nobody would accept it, castle would have the ability to smoke that instead. 

Gradually, trust in commodities developed over the years. Also though traders might not accept it; the populace was left reassured that it had alternate uses.

part of the trust in commodity money also comes indigenous its rarity, or at least how world perceive that is rarity. Assets such together gold are naturally rare, and it is therefore rareness that renders it much more valuable and also increases that intrinsic value. By contrast, we also have commodity monies such as salt and tobacco, which counts on that is consumption and creation. In various other words, just how supply have the right to be restrained.

Such assets were not an extremely effective. However, there to be an facet of trust in them. This to be because, for a time, the supply to be self-regulating. That is to say, farmers would produce huge quantitates of tobacco, but the populace would consume in same size. Nevertheless, there was a fundamental issue in the fact that the supply would at some point outstrip the demand; an interpretation there to be a big supply of tobacco and/or salt. As it to be a kind of money, this inevitably resulted in inflation.

General FAQs


What are examples of commodity money?

Some instances of commodity money include:AlcoholCocoa BeansCopperGoldSaltSea ShellsSilverTeaTobacco


What is the difference in between commodity money and also fiat money?

The main difference between commodity and fiat money is the commodity money has actually an intrinsic value. In other words, it has actually a use and value external of its use as money. Because that example, gold have the right to can be provided in jewellery and a money. So also if it wasn’t used as money, it has value. By contrast, fiat money only has value the is guaranteed by government. For instance, if the US federal government said it was no much longer using the dollar, a 1 dollar invoice would end up being worthless.

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What provides commodity money that is value

Commodity money obtains value as that is based upon a an excellent that has a value external its usage as a currency. This is well-known as ‘intrinsic value’.