~ How did travelers manage money before banking?


Looking at some old westerns where cowboys travel around or herd cattle for long distances, what did they do for money? Did someone carry a huge bag of cash/gold to pay for supplies, lodging when required etc?

Going back further to the like of Marco Polo and others in those times, did they carry around gold or just rely on the generosity of strangers? Hunt for their food?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Marco Polo traveled most of Asia under the authority of Kublai Khan, who had commissioned the use of paper money. To refuse The Khans paper money within his empire was punishable by death.

When he returned to Venice he did so with Gold and Jewels via ship until he landed in Persia. He was robbed of some of his riches traveling through Iran But for the Most part The Khans seal of protection stopped the bandits from killing him and taking everything.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Money had alot more value, so less was needed to be carried. One small gold coin could probabkybget you anything you needed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

People did indeed carry around gold and silver in purses whenever they were traveling. Gold is very valuable so you can get quite far with little weight in gold. But most of the time people traveled short distances where they could carry their own supplies for the journey or slow enough that they could forage off the wilderness or work for food along the way.

Cowboys is actually a good example as they would typically work short contracts at ranches. They would travel to the closest ranch with need of work, then get fed by the ranch while they worked the pastures and get paid in food and silver once their contract was over. Quite often they would be required to drive the cows to market, which was often not in the closest city, and then the rancher would pay them from the money they got for the meat as they were dismissed.

Marco Polo did indeed travel much further then what you would expect gold and silver could get you. He followed trade routes where each merchant would only carry the goods to the next city on the route before selling their wares to the next merchant and then buy supplies and wares for the return journey. Even on the first leg of Marco Polo’s journey, from western Europe to Constantinopel, was stretching the distance one could travel with your own supplies or with gold that did not get you robbed. But Marco Polo was a very influential diplomat with the support of all the emperors of the lands he traveled through. So his seal alone was worth more then money could buy. He could enter the home of any lord along the way and expect to get treated as an honored guest. He would then write a letter to the emperor complementing the hospitality and this letter would be considered a recept for paying taxes. Even criminals would let him go once they noticed his seal because they knew that if he went missing the emperors army would descend on them and their family. But regular people could not travel like Marco Polo.

Anonymous 0 Comments

People did carry around coinage, and they still do it today. One thing to note, though, is that banking predates money, and in fact it gives rise to it. Banking wasn’t as convenient as it is today, but there was never a time that people managed money (coinage) before banking.

In ancient mesopotamia, people would store grains and whatnot in storehouses, and a record was kept – receipts of who left what to keep track of it. Pretty soon, if I wanted to trade my grain for your goat, instead of going and getting some grain from the storehouse, I would just have the storehouse subtract some grain from my total and put it in your total. To make it easier, I could eventually give you a promissory note, which you could exchange at the storehouse for the thing – much easier than carrying grain around. You can think of these notes as being like checks. But then I could make a general check that you could then turn around and trade again and so on, and that’s the money.

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

You underestimate banking system age.

Before banks become separate institutes their role ( as almost any role) was implemented by cherch. Those who had any possessions and wanted to trevel, sold their things came to chruch, exchanged money for vexel and then treveled to desired place. However in most cases they could obtain their possessions after caravan from origin church will arrive to destination church.

Most recent discoveries shows such system was used way before Christianity 3c bc and (presumably) often used for trevelers from roman empire to Egypt and vise versa ( at some point they joined their pantheons for alli8 purposes)