"...Spartan citizens were debarred by law from trade or manufacture, which consequently rested in the hands of the Perioikoi, and were forbidden (in theory) to possess either gold or silver. Spartan currency consisted of iron bars, thus making thievery and foreign commerce very difficult and discouraging the accumulation of riches. Wealth was, in theory at least, derived entirely from landed property and consisted in the annual return made by the helots, who cultivated the plots of ground allotted to the Spartan citizens. But this attempt to equalize property proved a failure: from the earliest times, there were marked differences of wealth within the state, and these became even more serious after the law of Epitadeus, passed at some time after the Peloponnesian War, removed the legal prohibition of the gift or bequest of land.
Full citizens, released from any economic activity, were given a piece of land which was cultivated and run by the helots. As time went on, greater portions of land were concentrated in the hands of large landholders, but the number of full citizens declined. Citizens had numbered 10,000 at the beginning of the 5th century BC but had decreased by Aristotle's day (384–322 BC) to less than 1,000, and had further decreased to 700 at the accession of Agis IV in 244 BC. Attempts were made to remedy this situation by creating new laws. Certain penalties were imposed upon those who remained unmarried or who married too late in life. These laws, however, came too late and were ineffective in reversing the trend...."
"...Issuance of coinage was forbidden. Spartans were obliged to use iron obols (bars or spits), meant to encourage self-sufficiency and discourage avarice and the hoarding of wealth. A Spartan citizen in good standing was one who maintained his fighting skills, showed bravery in battle, ensured that his farms were productive, was married and had healthy children...."
"...“It was now impossible to buy foreign goods and no cargo of merchandise would enter a Spartan harbor, no teacher of rhetoric trod Laconian soil, no begging seer, no pimp, no maker of gold and silver ornaments – because there was no coined money. Thus gradually cut off from the things that animate and feed it, luxury atrophied of its own accord.”
The wealthy had no outlet to show off their wealth and were resigned to keep it in storage.
Craftsman, now released from useless jobs, began to work in the manufacture of essential goods such as tables and chairs, so the competition among them was fierce and the resulting quality of these products first rate. ..."
Another link: http://www.mikeanderson.biz/2009/06/lycurgus-spartan-monetary-system-and.html
"...In fact throughout that time the Spartan iron coinage was perfectly operable on a notional value both enforced by law, which declared its status as legal tender, and underwritten by state integrity. It was only the eventual breakdown of Spartan political strength which finished the money, not the over-issuance of the coinage..."
"... Athens grew to culturally dominate Sparta in the 50 years after the apparent victory of the Spartans in the Peloponnese war Spartan merchants’ confidence in their iron coinage started to wane, and they steadily preferred to use gold and/or silver which was creeping into the system.
As the situation deteriorated the state decreed that "no coin of gold or silver should be admitted into Sparta," and that they should "use the money that had long obtained". The decree did not pass into practice because the choice was a bleak one - no goods, or goods traded in gold..."
[Mrt: The case of Sparta is very interesting! Does that mean that it was a close to Freegold environment? iron medium of exchange abundant but almost worthless to save in]
Another link: http://lynncoins.com/money-history-episode.htm