Friday, July 26, 2013

From Livestock to the Stock Exchange

From Livestock to the Stock Exchange. © Sally Cochrane All Rights Reserved

Artist's description: This is a brief visual history of trade, reading left to right. The first "money" was cattle, represented by the cheese. Ancient Mesopotamians kept track of their cattle exchanges on cuneiform tablets like receipts (we have some at the Oriental institute of Chicago!). The root of the word "pecuniary" comes from the root "pecu" meaning "cattle." Cowrie shells were another early form of currency for trade, and beaver fur, which was very valuable, was used in barter when Europeans discovered the New World. The coins and stock ticker tape represent the modern end of the history. July 2013. 8"x 16" oil on canvas.

Original here with many other sizes.

Sally says the beaver fur was inspired by a Russ Roberts EconTalk podcast, interviewing Timothy Brook on his book Vermeer's Hat. "Part of the book talked about how valuable beaver fur was for making hats that ended up in the Netherlands during Vermeer's lifetime." I don't know how many other artists listen to EconTalk while painting...


  1. I can honestly say that I have listened to EconTalk while painting, though I've never thought of letting EconTalk influence the subject matter!

  2. Was disappointed to see that "original here with many other sizes" meant the original image and not an original painting for purchase.

  3. Aaaaah, these good times, when money was truly hard! :)

  4. Great painting, but the beaver belt looks fake. Is this an example of Gresham's Law?

  5. Representation of currency in painting including ancient thoughts ... wow very nice


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