The Evolution of Money and Shopping

money coupons

We’ve seen shopping evolve a great deal in the last century, giving way to the big box retail giants and online shopping familiar to us today.

Historically shopping was done at weekly markets, comprised of many different stalls and vendors, each specializing in a particular kind of goods. Due to the limited mobility of the time, there were typically no “luxury,” goods; nearly everything available for purchase would be from the region.

Over time the local markets gave way to individual shops, usually located in close proximity to each other in a town or city. However many of these shops kept their goods in cases and behind counters, and customers were not allowed to handle them. A great number of these stores were also run on a credit system. This of course was no problem for the upper class, but was out of reach for the lower and most of the middle class.

That all changed with dawn of the department store. As more people left rural farming occupations for more lucrative industrial jobs in the city, many of the middle class had more money to spend than ever before. The department store filled this void. Not only did they carry a wide range of goods, formerly only available from different individual shops, they also carried many luxury and novelty goods. Most stores are brightly lit and beautifully decorated, and goods are no longer kept out of a customers reach, but later put out so they can handle them. To add to the shopping experience many department stores incorporated restaurants and other attractions into their stores, furthering the notion that they were a shopping “destination.”

As consumerism only continued to grow we were introduced to the shopping mall. The concept, which took off in the middle of the 20th century, included an enclosed shopping space with several department stores and many smaller stand alone stores. The draw of the department stores benefited the smaller stores, and shoppers appreciated having so many stores in a single location.

With the growing emphasis of convenience and value we see the rise of the big box retailers. These stores offer everything from clothing to groceries, but all at a cheaper, more competitive price. To add value for customers most of the stores accept coupons, bringing in even more customers.

historical sugar coupon

Coupons were first introduced in the early 19th century as a way to increase sales. Today we see coupons in many different forms. From Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in your local paper to internet coupons delivered to your inbox, which can then be scanned right form your mobile device at checkout.

And finally we see the boom in internet shopping. Customers can now browse and compare prices anytime of day, all from the convenience of their own home. With a few simple clicks we can purchase anything from furniture to books to food, all to be delivered to our front door.

Check out our last post on the richest people in history.

Who are the Top 5 Richest People in History?

Throughout history there have been many wealthy people, but who in all of known history, has been the richest? This article will outline the top five richest people who have lived, along with a few facts about them to shed light on their wealth.

The Richest

mansa musa

Who was the richest person alive is a question that may have a surprising answer to those who are not historians. The final answer is questionable, but one popular answer is Mansa Musa I. Ruler of the African country of Mali, Musa amassed one of the largest fortunes through the production of gold and salt. This supply became nearly half of the world’s total supply. Final numbers are difficult to be exact, the approximate total net worth of Musa was somewhere over $410 billion.


The title of second wealthiest person in history belongs to the wealthiest American of history. John D. Rockefeller founded his own oil company in the 1800s, and as oil and gas demand grew, Rockefeller’s fortune did as well. Rockefeller was known for utilizing his fortune to donate to schools and hospitals, as well as being a founder of the University of Chicago. The final number for his total net worth is approximated to around $400 billion.


The third richest title goes not to an individual, but to a family. The Rothchilds from Frankfurt Germany are known for establishing one of the most successful banking businesses in all of history. They reached their peak of wealth around the 1760s. While the name Rothchilds isn’t as well known as it once was, their total net worth was somewhere around $350 billion at their prime.


Another American gets fourth place in the list of wealthiest people in history. Andrew Carnegie, while born in Scotland, made his fortune, rising the the ladder to become owner of Carnegie Steel Plant, which made him extremely wealthy. Had he not donated to schools, libraries and museums his total net worth at the time of his death would have been greater. But, at age 83 when he passed, his net worth was estimated to be $320 billion.


The fifth spot goes to a name that is not as well known as some of the higher positions. Osman Ali Khan is known for having ruled over the part of India known as Hyderabad from 1911 to 1948, before it officially became a part of India. His wealth came from many sources, mainly gold and jewels. During his lifetime his net worth got him many expensive homes and expensive cars. Due to this, when he died, his net worth was somewhere around $240 billion.

Wealth has been a powerful status tool throughout all of history, and is probably even more so today. So, it is beneficial to see who the wealthiest people of the past were and learn how they amassed their wealth to use as an example for the future.


To our historical valuations blog! I’ll be writing about things my history class and I talk about and try to find a value for. My students are fantastic and they come up with some great ideas.

I’m sure we’ll have some of them on here writing!