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Old 03-01-2013, 10:26 AM   #37
Shade of Carn Dűm
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 435
Alfirin has been trapped in the Barrow!
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
the bag of spare change that the Orcs threw at Thrór's companion: his beggar's fee, "a few coins of little worth". That insult would be quite lost if not both parties were familiar with the currency.

I don't think that's necessarily the case. If we assume, as I think we must, that the coinage of Middle-earth was like that of the Primary World up to the 20th century, coinage had intrinsic value, based on its composition: chiefly gold and silver, plus 'token' currency in copper, bronze, brass and sometimes iron. Note that Butterbur pays for Bill the Pony with "silver pennies," the standard circulating coin of the English middle ages (and 20 of them was considered a fair expense even for a prosperous innkeeper).

And much like Europe in the middle ages, coins we can assume spread far and wide beyond the land where they were minted, and quickly became a promiscuous mixture of origins. This didn't matter, since gold and silver were valued by weight anyway. So one didn't have to be "familiar with the currency" at all to tell that a 25-gram gold coin was of very substantial worth, or that a bag of small copper and brass pieces was of "little worth." Even today, it's apparent to most at a glance that a handful of faux-copper coins roughly the size of a US or European cent, Canadian penny or old German pfennig amounts to little, wherever they came from.

I see your point. I remember (back in the days when I collected "modern" coins my suprise when I first saw a British quarter farthing (note that is a quarter of a farthing i.e. 1/16th of a penny) and realized that, low as a farthing was value in turn of the century Britain, there were places where it was still too much money for day to day commerce and even smaller coins were needed (from what I understand, sub farthings (1/4, 1/3 and 1/2) were mostly for use in some of the colonies (malta in particualr, though the were legal tender in Britain itself).
Without any real evidence, I've always sort of assumed that Gondorian money was the currency of choice for inernational (inter tribal?) exchange. As the biggest "power" in ME (exculding Mordor itself, see later) it would probably be the weight and fineness(purity of metal) standards of Gondor/Arnor that would be the "standard" for trade (much as most international trade in Bibilcal times was based on the Tyrian shekel ) Also since (in a lot of ways) Gondor was supposed to be like Rome, I've always sort of imagined they issued roman style coins, as opposed to medival style (in general the medival style of minting, from a plate of metal as opped to a "dump" (slug) resulted in coins that were bigger than the roman kinds, but a lot thinner. The roman style was preferred in a lot of places as the thickness made it harder to clip coins (shave a bit of metal off the sides so as to make a profit) Minas Tirith probably had the master mint, with smaller satellite mints in places like Dol Amroth (there was probably also one in Minas Ithil/Morgul, under the WK's authority that supplied coin to those in Mordor who needed paying (or if they never changed the dies, to flood the free people with debased coinage to weaken thier confidence.)
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