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The E-Sylum (7/7/2013)

Book Content

Ron Guth submitted the following thoughts in response to the review of Felix Martin's book, Money: The Unauthorised Biography. Thanks! -Editor

Yap money was most certainly bartered. Just read the story of David O'Keefe who discovered that the best way to motivate the Yapese men to harvest copra was to trade the stones for labor. Using modern tools and transportation, O'Keefe imported so many stones that their value plummeted on the island.

For a more romanticised version of this story, watch "His Majesty O'Keefe," a 1954 movie starring Burt Lancaster. It's pretty heavy on the testosterone, but it shows the effect of his trading enterprise.

I became fascinated by Yap money years ago in discussions with Chuck Opitz, who visited Yap with his wife. Later, PCGS purchased a small stone that remains on display in our library. Size is relative, of course; we call it simultaneously "spare change" because it is a small stone, and "the only coin PCGS won't encapsulate" because it is too large.

King Farouk Feud Over Tessa Prendergast - Jet Magazine, October 29, 1953 One of the stars of "His Majesty O'Keefe," and the object of Burt Lancaster's attention in the film, was the Jamaican beauty Tessa Prendergast. Apparently, she also caught the eye of our own King Farouk in real life!

According to, "Tessa Welborn [born Marie Therese Prendergast] was the designer responsible for the bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the film Dr. No" ( Thus Bo Derek is connected to Yap stones . . . how?

To read the complete O'Keefe article, see: David O’Keefe: The King of Hard Currency (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: MONEY: THE UNAUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY (

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