A small gem from Jess Nevins sporadic newsletter, The Lagniappe of Research. I did not know this!
In the matter of counterfeiting, cacao beans were the smallest monetary “denomination” as well as an exclusive beverage. They were also the most easily falsified form of money (as opposed to, for instance, cotton cloth and small copper items). Those who dealt in cacao beans (who may or may not have been the growers) could counterfeit them through a rather tedious and meticulous process: they would cut off the outer husk of the bean; remove the chocolate; replace the innards with sand, pulverized avocado pits, or wax; and re-seal the husk to deceive the unwary purchaser. It seems like a great deal of work for so little reward…yet it was apparently common practice with many skilled practitioners.
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