wampum (wom-p<<schwa>>m), n. Hist. Indian money consisting of shells, beads, or animal pelts. • In 1637, it became the first medium of exchange for the New England colonies by order of the General Court of Massa-chusetts, because England had not provided the colonies with a standard of exchange. The Court ordered that “wampampege should passe at 6 a penny for any sum under 12d.” Wampum was used as the medium of exchange, esp. for small transactions, until 1652, when the General Court ordered the first metallic currency.
[Blacks Law 8th]