Coins in Times of Crisis

Financial Crises throughout History


Globalization, inflation, recession, economic revolutions
Financial crises were and still are of great importance in the economic setups of countries. The reason for crises is most likely related to business cycles and the rate of increase or decrease of economic activity. In the course of history we have witnessed events such as inflation, deflation, recession, globalization, devaluation, lack of small change, etc., which are directly connected to wars, economic revolutions or manipulations of rulers and business people.
The exhibit focuses on financial crises from ancient times until the present – from a historical perspective, in the visual form of bills, coins, monetary substitutes, and other items; you will be able to see how economic and currency principles have not essentially changed over the generations.
The first attempt in history to unify monetary system (globalization) was made in the Hellenistic period (4th century BC) by Alexander the Great, in the wake of his military conquests that guaranteed the dissemination of the coins that he minted throughout his empire. An example of galloping inflation can be found in the 3rd century AD, when the Rome’s traditional monetary system gradually collapsed. In 320-350 AD, for example one could buy a barrel of wine for four silver dinars in Babylon, while in the Land of Israel one could purchase half a liter of wine for less than 75 silver dinars.
In the modern era critical situations, such as a shortage of small change, often brought about increased printing of paper money as a substitute – in the exhibition you will find paper tokens printed in the first moshavot, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.
In addition, the exhibit presents bills from the period of the momentous inflation in Germany prior to World War II – bills that were glued in a chain in order to create a million-mark bill, and bills that were specially issued by the Bank of Israel and were not circulated, designed for the territories which Israel conquered in the Six Day War. Coins and bills that were re-minted in order to revalidate them, after they had lost their value; the ration booklets of the austerity period in Israel and the coins used in that period; bills from the times of different revolutions in history: the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution (on them the inscription: Workers of the world, unite! in numerous languages), photographs, documents, bills of old shekels the value of which was hundreds of thousands and millions of shekels, which were in use during the horrendous inflation of the 1980s in Israel.

Curator: Cecilia Meir
Opens May 20, 2006, close July 31, 2007