Did England Really Used Wood Tally Sticks as Currency?

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Before Bitcoin & centralized currencies/dollars - Wood Sticks were used as currency..

In medieval England, tally sticks were used as a form of currency. Tally sticks were long, thin sticks made of wood that were notched to represent a specific amount of money owed. They were used to record debts owed by the government, businesses, and individuals.

The process of creating a tally stick began when the person owing money would approach a government official, such as a tax collector, and make a payment. The official would then mark the amount paid on a stick, using a series of notches and lines that represented different denominations of money.

The stick was then split in half, with each party keeping one half. The side of the stick with the notches was the "stock," and the other half was the "foil." The stock was kept by the government official as a record of the debt owed, and the foil was given to the person who made the payment.

The tally stick system was advantageous for the government because it allowed them to record debts without the need for physical money or paper documents. Additionally, because the stock and the foil had to fit perfectly together, tally sticks were very difficult to counterfeit.


Tally sticks were used as currency by the British government until the 19th century when the system was abolished. In 1834, the Houses of Parliament were being renovated, and officials decided to burn a large quantity of old tally sticks. However, the fire got out of control and ended up burning down the Houses of Parliament, which led to the government abandoning the tally stick system altogether.

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English Tally Sticks Used as Money

Today, tally sticks are considered to be an important artifact of British history, and examples can be found in museums and private collections around the world.


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