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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Fossil Shell Coin  
  The use of rare natural shells of an extinct species, for money.  

...their money currency does not consist of the precious metals, which are too common among them for that purpose. The smaller coins in ordinary use are manufactured from a peculiar fossil shell, the comparatively scarce remnant of some early deluge, or other convulsion of nature, by which a species has become extinct. It is minute, and flat as an oyster, and takes a jewel-like polish. Their...bills of exchange [are] thin metallic plates which answer the purpose of our bank notes.
Technovelgy from The Coming Race, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
Published by William Blackwood and Sons in 1871
Additional resources -

Compare to the truffle skin money of Philip K. Dick.

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