Lot 189
Rai Stone "Coin" From the Pacific Island of Yap
Lot Details & Additional Photographs
Late 19th - early 20th century, consisting of carved and drilled crystalline calcite. The stone is 24-1/4 x 21 x 4 in. and weighs 95 pounds.

Private North Carolina collection

Known by Yap islanders as rai stones, these carvings enjoy a perceived value like any other form of money whether ancient or modern. Though universal currencies have become the norm on Yap, rai stones are still used for status and important transfers of wealth. The largest of these stones can exceed 10 feet in diameter and are recognized as one of mankind's most unusual means of exchange. A rai stone equaling ours in size - and having a similar break - is held by the Smithsonian Institution and can be seen here.

Exports of stone currency from Yap were restricted in 1965 with very few examples coming to market since. A signed afidavit from the consignor demonstrates the stone's legitimate importation to the USA over 60 years ago.

Weathered surfaces; 3 in. area of loss to the edge; the stone, having been broken, consists of a 6-1/2 x 15 in. fragment detached from a larger piece.

$1,000 - 2,000