There’s a new pirates movie this weekend! Whether your Pirates of the Caribbean fan or not, here’s some fascinating facts about pirate money that we bet you didn't learn from Johnny Depp…

Pirates actually very rarely buried their treasure.

This myth was popularized by fictional tales such as Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe, but in reality there are very few cases of pirates who buried their treasure. They preferred to spend or trade their loot rather than leave it on an island for someone else to steal.

What is a “piece of eight”?

A piece of eight is another name for the large silver coins weighing about 25 grams that were minted for the King of Spain. They were a global currency in the 16th century. Despite it’s terminology in Treasure Island and Pirates of the Caribbean, these coins were more commonly referred to as Peso, Spanish Dollar or Silver Dollar.

Treasure was not always coins.

Food, lumber, clothes and animal hides were often gathered and traded by pirates in addition to coins.

So how did they deal out the loot?

The crew often received equal shares of the plunder, with the captain and commanding officers receiving a little more based on position. A pirate could receive the equivalent of a year’s worth of wages from one captured ship.

Modern pirates are still costly a problem.

It’s estimated that modern Somalian pirates have costs world wide losses of $16 billion per year.


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