Yap1   Yap2   Obelas  


James  Hopp: The Island of Yap

The island of Yap is located in the Pacific Ocean between Guam and Palua and is now a rather popular tourist destination. It is known for it’s incredible beauty and the amazing amount of marine life, especially manta rays, which are found off its coast. Scuba diving is very popular for visiting tourists. Although the dollar is the currency most accepted on the island, it was not always this way. Originally, large stone disks, some measuring up to 12 feet in diameter and weighing hundreds, or thousands, of pounds, made up the money system. What is even more interesting is that these huge discs are not native to the island. Instead, warriors and explores had to travel, by canoe, 300 miles away to neighboring Palua. There, primitive tools were used to hew the stones from a quarry, where they were perilously carried back to the island. The larger the stone, and the more dangerous the voyage it was carried on, the more valuable it is. For obvious reasons, the stone money was not carried around, but was mostly kept in large deposits, similar to banks. Individual ownership of each rock was, and still is, well known to natives on the island, and news of their transactions quickly spreads. In the mid eighteen hundreds, an Irish-American trader and adventurer,

David Dean O'Keefe, started a successful business using his ship to ferry large stones to Yap from Palua, receiving goods for trade. Although these “O’Keefe stones” are worth less then traditionally gathered stones, they are used nonetheless. And, despite the frequent use of the dollar now, these rocks are still used on the island today for large purchases, such as dowries, or land.



Bradley  Chalmers:
Money on the Pacific Island of Yap

On the island of Yap, a small island in the Pacific, the traditional medium of exchange was the fei. Fei were stone wheels that were up to 12 feet in diameter that functioned as the money that we have today. They were used for transactions and exchanges, however due to their bulk and weight, it was difficult to take the fei to the market. Eventually, the people on the island paid little attention to having physical possesion of the stones, and focused more on the claims to the fei as money. In that way, people began to use the claims to the fei as the medium of exchange, and not the actual fei itself (very similar to the gold standard used before the civil war in the US). This is kind of like money backed by fei. A story to attest to this is that of an owner of a particular fei who lost it at sea during a storm, because the loss wasn't considered to be his fault, people still honored his claim to the fei even though the actual wheel lay at the bottom of the ocean.


Macroeconomics (Fourth Edition), Gregory Mankiw, Worth publishers, 1999


David  McFarland: Obelas

The form of money known as obelas was the smallest currency ever used. It originated in Greece and it was said that they were as small as an apple seed. People would often carry them in their mouths and would hope not to swallow them accidentally or sneeze.





OK Economics was designed and it is maintained by Oldrich Kyn.
To send me a message, please use one of the following addresses: ---

This website contains the following sections:

General  Economics:

Economic Systems:

Money and Banking:

Past students:

Czech Republic

Kyn’s Publications

 American education

free hit counters
Nutrisystem Diet Coupons