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Old 03-01-2013, 05:00 PM   #41
Kuruharan
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Actually there is a sort of third option for the dwarves and the Rohirrim (and any other groups with vaugely germanic/viking habits. In a lot of the Viking world, coins were of short supply and laws about minting your own, often harsh. So what was often used were "money bracelets" these were long spiralled armlets of gold sliver or copper (usually in the shape of a coiled snake) of standard thickness with notches in them of set distance apart. To make a payment, you would count off x notches worth and cut them off. whent he bits got too small, they would be gathered, melted down and made into a new bracelet.
Another interesting possibility. I still think dwarves would mostly have used coins.

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And the Movie cerinly assumed the Hobbits minted coins, you can buy "shire pennies" (officlaly sactioned) on the collectable market (both mint and "hobbit circulated")
That makes me wonder who would have minted Shire pennies. The Thane, perhaps, although the authority of that office always seemed very informal.

Would the town of Bree also minted silver pennies? Especially since Butterbur is specifically stated as having them.
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Old 03-01-2013, 05:15 PM   #42
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That makes me wonder who would have minted Shire pennies. The Thane, perhaps, although the authority of that office always seemed very informal.

Would the town of Bree also minted silver pennies? Especially since Butterbur is specifically stated as having them.
Why couldn't the Shire and Bree have used Arnorian coins? Even though that kingdom was defunct by Buttubur's time, as long as the coins themselves were of precious metals, that shouldn't have mattered.
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Old 03-01-2013, 05:26 PM   #43
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Why couldn't the Shire and Bree have used Arnorian coins? Even though that kingdom was defunct by Buttubur's time, as long as the coins themselves were of precious metals, that shouldn't have mattered.
True, but since that kingdom had died out hundreds of years before, if there was no other reasonable(ish) supply of coins their value would have skyrocketed.
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Old 03-01-2013, 05:29 PM   #44
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Why couldn't the Shire and Bree have used Arnorian coins? Even though that kingdom was defunct by Buttubur's time, as long as the coins themselves were of precious metals, that shouldn't have mattered.
They probaby DID use whatever Arnorian money was still around (plus the occasional influx from a found hoard). One of the things about a specie (precious metal) based econonmy is that coins tend to be accepted no matter how old they are, provided the purity and weigh is alright until they are melted down (up until the 1820's to 30's in the Southwest you could still pay for things in Spanish reales aka "peices of eight" and those eights were still just as likey to be "cobs" (the crude colnial version) as the somewhat more contemporary Pillar Dollars (the machine struck coins) But there would need to be some re-striking from time to time, afer so long a lot of the Arnorian coins in circulation would have worn down to a point their weight would no longer be acceptable at anything like face value.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:38 AM   #45
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And time is a factor here--it was a millennium from the fall of Arvedui until the War of the Ring. Although I'm sure old Arthedain coin would have been accepted, that would be like American pioneers accepting coin from Alfred the Great's time--sure, they'd accept it if it was good metal, but that's a looooong time to survive in bulk. To an extent, no doubt, the coin kept circulating, but even if it diminished slowly it WOULD diminish--and wear.

Although Tolkien says that the "only" elements of government in the Shire were the postal service and the Shirriffs, I think it might not be too far out of the way to posit the possibility that there was a mint there. For one thing, it's already been noted that the Hobbits worked with silver. For another, it is conceivable that this mint was already there in the early days of the Shire, under the authority of Arthedain and that responsibility for it was assumed by the Thains after the fall of Fornost.

On the other hand, although I think the Dúnedain = Romans equation is a good one, perhaps we should look to the Dwarves rather than Arnor as the chief source of coinage in Bilbo's era. After all, we know that the Dwarves worked with gold and silver and we also know that they had a long tradition (going back to the early Second Age at least) of developing symbiotic relationships like they had in Erebor with the Dalemen: that is, a relationship of Men who provided them with food and horsemen, etc. It is also very easy to picture the Dwarves, with their concern for just payment (cf. what they owed Laketown in their negotiations with Bard and the Elvenking), having a solid reputation for consistently pure coinage, which would be accepted wherever Dwarves were known.

What is more, Dwarves moving east and west along the Great Road are the only known source of outside commerce in the Shire--a far more plausible source for coin than a sporadic filtering up from Gondor (though this may have been more common before Tharbad was finally abandoned--one gets the sense there used to be somewhat more traffic up the Greenway before the Fell Winter).
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:36 AM   #46
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What is more, Dwarves moving east and west along the Great Road are the only known source of outside commerce in the Shire--a far more plausible source for coin than a sporadic filtering up from Gondor (though this may have been more common before Tharbad was finally abandoned--one gets the sense there used to be somewhat more traffic up the Greenway before the Fell Winter).
I agree that Dwarves would have been the primary source of outside commerce for the Shire in the time of the War of the Ring. However, there's a variable in Saruman. He had been covertly buying tobacco for some time leading up to the War, and it is said that the "money" he paid for the merchandise was corrupting the hobbits with whom he was doing business. That would seem to be a fair amount of coinage, and I wonder what sort of currency he would have used.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:28 AM   #47
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Is there the possibility of a "Common Currency", perhaps like the Common Speech, in the West? I am imagining something of Númenórean origin which would have been used in lands under the influence of both Arnor and Gondor. Mordor tried to buy horses from Rohan as well - perhaps it was even adopted by Orcish realms in their dealings with their allies and each other.
I wonder if it's telling in the fact that Frodo did not bring a great deal of money with him in his departure from the Shire despite his desperate situation - the fact that so much of Eriador (and, perhaps, the West in general) was depopulated, uninhabited wilderness it can account somewhat for the ambiguous status of money. I wonder how much an event like the recovery of Erebor would have affected things?
Here's something from The Peoples of Middle-earth, a digression from the word for 'quarter', tharantīn:
"In Gondor tharni was used for a silver coin, the fourth part of the castar (in Noldorin the canath or fourth part of the mirian)." (p.45)
I suppose we can never know if a tharni of Gondor was equivalent to a silver penny as used in the Shire and the Bree-land though...
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:23 PM   #48
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I agree that Dwarves would have been the primary source of outside commerce for the Shire in the time of the War of the Ring. However, there's a variable in Saruman. He had been covertly buying tobacco for some time leading up to the War, and it is said that the "money" he paid for the merchandise was corrupting the hobbits with whom he was doing business. That would seem to be a fair amount of coinage, and I wonder what sort of currency he would have used.

Gondorian problably at least originally. Saruman held Orthanc as an official warden of Gondor initiallly, and that title probably came with some sort of a stipend (most likey a small one, but one nonetheless, which would have been paid in Gondoran coin (since it was coming from Gondor) Later, a lot of his money would probably have been in the form of whatever Rohan used (I like to think they used the mark, but that is simple association) probably delivered to him by Grima, both for his expenses and his ring experiments (in a world where the value of the money is in the form of it's precios metal content, melted down coins are just as good a source of gold and silver as any other.)
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:39 PM   #49
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Is there the possibility of a "Common Currency", perhaps like the Common Speech, in the West? I am imagining something of Númenórean origin which would have been used in lands under the influence of both Arnor and Gondor. Mordor tried to buy horses from Rohan as well - perhaps it was even adopted by Orcish realms in their dealings with their allies and each other.
I wonder if it's telling in the fact that Frodo did not bring a great deal of money with him in his departure from the Shire despite his desperate situation - the fact that so much of Eriador (and, perhaps, the West in general) was depopulated, uninhabited wilderness it can account somewhat for the ambiguous status of money. I wonder how much an event like the recovery of Erebor would have affected things?
Here's something from The Peoples of Middle-earth, a digression from the word for 'quarter', tharantīn:
"In Gondor tharni was used for a silver coin, the fourth part of the castar (in Noldorin the canath or fourth part of the mirian)." (p.45)
I suppose we can never know if a tharni of Gondor was equivalent to a silver penny as used in the Shire and the Bree-land though...
More likely the penny was eqivalent to the castar what with the whole "four" thing (the silver pennies of the middle ages usually had a large cross as part of the design of the back to make it easier to cut the coin in half and "fourthings" much has the spanish 8 real piece was cut into up to 8 "bits" (or where we get the term "two bits" for a quarter dollar)
As for the original question the answer is, quite possibly, or at least a lot of the coins would be issued to be more or less the same sort of sizes and weights. Coins that are seen as being "solid" often become trade standards, and eventually get adopted by other countries. The British penny was originally based on the Roman denarius or 10 as peice which was the standard silver exchange coin of Rome (that's why the old symbol for penny was "d") The shilling was based on the solidus (originally a gold coin weighing about 4.5 grams) as was the old frech Sou (the "/" was orignally a long "s") the pound was just that orginally the value of one pound of silver hence the "L" (for lirbrum). Other exples would be the british florin (2 shilling piece) the dutch ducat, and the dollar (orignally a german coin called a Joachimsthaler, later shortened to "Thaler")
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:51 AM   #50
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"The shilling was based on the solidus (originally a gold coin weighing about 4.5 grams) as was the old frech Sou (the "/" was orignally a long "s""

Only indirectly: Charlemagne ordained that the basis of Frankish coin would be one pound (Tours) of silver, subdivided into 20 solidi (sols) or 240 denarii (deniers); this Carolingian system was copied by Offa of Mercia. The late-Roman and Byzantine solidus was, as you say, a gold coin (and worth a heckuva lot more than 1 sol or shilling, despite being only 1/3 the size); how the misnaming occurred is a mystery.

A-S scilling or shilling in place of sol/solidus is of unknown origin; what we do know is that in A-S times it was the value of a sheep. There was no actual shilling coin in England until the Tudor era.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:28 PM   #51
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"The shilling was based on the solidus (originally a gold coin weighing about 4.5 grams) as was the old frech Sou (the "/" was orignally a long "s""

Only indirectly: Charlemagne ordained that the basis of Frankish coin would be one pound (Tours) of silver, subdivided into 20 solidi (sols) or 240 denarii (deniers); this Carolingian system was copied by Offa of Mercia. The late-Roman and Byzantine solidus was, as you say, a gold coin (and worth a heckuva lot more than 1 sol or shilling, despite being only 1/3 the size); how the misnaming occurred is a mystery.

A-S scilling or shilling in place of sol/solidus is of unknown origin; what we do know is that in A-S times it was the value of a sheep. There was no actual shilling coin in England until the Tudor era.
You are, of course correct. I was trying to be brief and over simplified. And before you get to it, I am fairly sure a florin of Florence (being gold) was worth a heck of a lot more than 2 shillings. And yes, a Roman solidus was a lot of money, it was after all the equivalent of a Roman soldier's annual pay. And as for the extreme diffence in time between when the shilling was recognized as a unit of commerce and when there was actually a coin of that value, that sort of reminds me of how accounts were still being run in guineas until (I think decimalization) despite no Guinea coins being minted since Victoria. I think she was the one who minted the first sovereigns (If I am in error please forgive me on the grounds that I am 1. forgetful, 2. American and 3. Thanks to this thread now have a head filled with the monetary coversions of Feudal Japan (I collect that too) which make those of the Frankish system simple.)
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:08 PM   #52
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Worse yet was Valois/Bourbon France, where the coinage had no fixed denomination relative to the money of account, the livre; official values were periodically promulgated by royal decree.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:24 PM   #53
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Worse yet was Valois/Bourbon France, where the coinage had no fixed denomination relative to the money of account, the livre; official values were periodically promulgated by royal decree.
Actually that probably ties it with Feudal era Japan. While the ryo did techically have a fixed value of 3 ko of rice, the coins were debased so often and so severelyin both size and purity (a kechio koban (one ryo piece of the Tokugawa period is something like 4 times the size and has something like 5 times the gold per unit weight of the ones issued in the 1830's-1850's )that merchants tended to give preference to counterfeit coins for change, provided that they were older counterfeits (since while they had less gold than the coins they were counterfeiting, they still had more than the contemporary officials). or the fact that larger transactions were usually done with officially sealed packets of coins with the value written on it, which were never supposed to be opened (when they were, they invariably contained far less coins that the value written on them, so accidentally tear the paper and you lost about a quarter of the value ( a bit like how the larger oban had a face value of 10 but a gold content of about 7.5 since they really werent supposed to ever be spent (they were pretty much only used for official rewards and payments so they tended to be saved as honorary mementoes, a bit like Maundy Money.) Then of course there was the fact that gold and silver traded at almost 1:1 (given their isolation policies, nearly all precious metals in Japan were locally mined, and the two are found in roughy equal amounts there) This didn't really cause any local problems. But became a nightmare once Perry opened the country and sailors suddenly realized that every moneylender in Yokohama would happliy exchange a koban (which even in it's debased form still had about $1.25's worth of gold in it) for silver coins of around quarter size. At one point the amount of gold leaving Japan got so severe exporting it was actually made a capital offense.
Imperial China was rather odd too since the only "official" government coin was the 1 cash piece those bronze ones with the square holes (multiple cash coins do exist but were usually only issued at times when copper shortages or sieges made issuing the normal kind infeasible). All of the silver and gold "coins" (more often boat shaped sychee and small gold bars) were private issues and had no regulation.
I'm going to shut up now, as this has gotten WAAY off topic.
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:42 PM   #54
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As a citizen from a quasi-patriachal state, I can tell you that concerns or rather, fears of the patriarch going rogue is of the uptmost concerns of both the citizens and government. As such there are measures adopted to prevent absolute power from falling totally into the hands of one man. Hence Singapore has two deputy Prime Ministers and three Ministers for Defence.

That stated I wonder if the dwarven houses had such fail safe mechanisms in place. What would happen if a leader of a great house turned rogue and perhaps "evil" as we have more or less defined in this thread? Could the other dwarves of the same house have stopped this leader from committing undersirable acts? Or would a possible culture of respect to elders, strict social hierarchy, apolitical lifestyles and strong centralized rule dissuade such a self-righting course?

Magna Carta anyone?
## Perhaps the constitution of Numenor, so far as it is recoverable, would be enough to ensure that kind of culture. It seems to depend on custom, much more than on statute. In an ideal state, there would be no law - it would not be needed;custom - as among the Hobbits, who were influenced by the Dunedain - would be enough.

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I agree that Dwarves would have been the primary source of outside commerce for the Shire in the time of the War of the Ring. However, there's a variable in Saruman. He had been covertly buying tobacco for some time leading up to the War, and it is said that the "money" he paid for the merchandise was corrupting the hobbits with whom he was doing business. That would seem to be a fair amount of coinage, and I wonder what sort of currency he would have used.
## Might the invention of money be another of Saruman's bad deeds (and a form of likeness to Sauron, by trying to dominate others) ? It would require technology, too - and Tolkien is not overly keen on technology. Corrupting the Sackville-Bagginses (& other Hobbits ?) with cash would fit TLOTR well enough. Barter OTOH, with perishable goods, would allow a comparatively trouble-free economy, one closer to nature. Cash might count as a mathom, to put in the mathom house at Michel Delving. (TLOTR as anti-capitalist fable ? Maybe not.) This would indicate a contrast between Hobbits and dwarves - the latter are inclined to possessiveness, the former are not (unless tempted by the Ring or Saruman).

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Old 03-17-2013, 07:07 AM   #55
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## Might the invention of money be another of Saruman's bad deeds (and a form of likeness to Sauron, by trying to dominate others) ? It would require technology, too - and Tolkien is not overly keen on technology. Corrupting the Sackville-Bagginses (& other Hobbits ?) with cash would fit TLOTR well enough.
I don't think Saruman introduced currency to the Shire.
For one thing, Gandalf kept an eye on the place, and such a societal change would surely have been noted by him. Saruman was buying pipe-weed on the sly, but that was more easily accomplished covertly.

Also, there is a reference in The Hobbit that leads me to believe hobbits were used to currency.

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Bungo, that was Bilbo's father, built the most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and partly with her money) that was to be found either under The Hill or over The Hill or across The Water, and there they remained to the end of their days.
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Barter OTOH, with perishable goods, would allow a comparatively trouble-free economy, one closer to nature. Cash might count as a mathom, to put in the mathom house at Michel Delving. (TLOTR as anti-capitalist fable ? Maybe not.) This would indicate a contrast between Hobbits and dwarves - the latter are inclined to possessiveness, the former are not (unless tempted by the Ring or Saruman).
I think the Dwarves likely did trade with the Shire mostly by barter. I can see them trading metal items for food.
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:51 AM   #56
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Also, there is a reference in The Hobbit that leads me to believe hobbits were used to currency.
There are several, in fact:

"Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out" (p. 29)

"I have come without my hat, and I have left my pocket-handkerchief behind, and I haven't any money." (p. 30)

In regards to trade between Hobbits and Dwarves, I wonder if the Dwarves were more buyers or sellers. It seems to me that the Hobbits were accomplished enough with the simple machinery they used and the construction of their own dwellings; and that the primary produce of value to the Dwarves would have been food, pipe-weed and the like. One can perhaps imagine them selling to the Men of Dale in the East and buying from the Hobbits in the West. I'm no economist though so I personally can't speculate too much.
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:58 AM   #57
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In regards to trade between Hobbits and Dwarves, I wonder if the Dwarves were more buyers or sellers. It seems to me that the Hobbits were accomplished enough with the simple machinery they used and the construction of their own dwellings; and that the primary produce of value to the Dwarves would have been food, pipe-weed and the like. One can perhaps imagine them selling to the Men of Dale in the East and buying from the Hobbits in the West. I'm no economist though so I personally can't speculate too much.
Maybe the Dwarves supplied the Shire with everyday metal items like candlesticks, cutlery, and farm tools. Sure, hobbits probably could have fashioned things like that themselves. However, anything metal made by Dwarves was likely of superior quality, and their products could have been preferred, by the richer families especially , as status symbols.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:07 AM   #58
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Maybe the Dwarves supplied the Shire with everyday metal items like candlesticks, cutlery, and farm tools. Sure, hobbits probably could have fashioned things like that themselves. However, anything metal made by Dwarves was likely of superior quality, and their products could have been preferred, by the richer families especially , as status symbols.
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'The hobbit that I have in mind has ornaments of gold, and eats with silver tools, and drinks out of shapely crystal.'

'Ah! I see your drift at last,' said Balin. 'He's a thief, then? That is why you recommended him?'

At that I fear I lost my temper and my caution. This Dwarvish conceit that no one can have or make anything 'of value' save themselves, and that all fine things in other hands must have been got, if not stolen, from the Dwarves at some time, was more than I could stand at that moment.
Earlier Thorin had sneered that "those villagers" "drink out of clay, and they cannot tell a gem from a glass bead." All of which suggests that Thorin's community, at least, had no experience of selling fine articles of craft to hobbits.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:22 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
Earlier Thorin had sneered that "those villagers" "drink out of clay, and they cannot tell a gem from a glass bead." All of which suggests that Thorin's community, at least, had no experience of selling fine articles of craft to hobbits.
Maybe not cups specifically, but earlier in the same Unfinished Tales The Quest of Erebor passage you note, are these words from Gandalf to Glóin:

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'I suppose you think [The Shirefolk] simple, because they are generous and do not haggle; and think them timid, because you never sell them any weapons'
That would seem to indicate commerce between the two races, excluding weaponry. Otherwise, what are they "haggling" over?
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:49 AM   #60
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Certainly they had commerce- but to the Dwarves the Shire-folk were merely "food-growers," which suggests the nature of the commerce, and fits with what is told in 'Of Dwarves and Men.' It was also said somewhere, IIRC, that hobbits would at times employ Dwarves for road-work and to repair the Brandywine Bridge, though I can't find it at the moment. Either there was a barter-for work arrangement, or the Dwarves bought their provisions with coin.
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:53 PM   #61
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Certainly they had commerce- but to the Dwarves the Shire-folk were merely "food-growers," which suggests the nature of the commerce, and fits with what is told in 'Of Dwarves and Men.' It was also said somewhere, IIRC, that hobbits would at times employ Dwarves for road-work and to repair the Brandywine Bridge, though I can't find it at the moment. Either there was a barter-for work arrangement, or the Dwarves bought their provisions with coin.
I wonder if part of the reason why the dwarves rather disdained the hobbits is because the hobbits were incapable of performing the traditional "food and military service" in exchange for "goods and luxuries" that the dwarves seemed to prefer. That might be why not selling weapons was a bit of a sore point.

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In regards to trade between Hobbits and Dwarves, I wonder if the Dwarves were more buyers or sellers. It seems to me that the Hobbits were accomplished enough with the simple machinery they used and the construction of their own dwellings; and that the primary produce of value to the Dwarves would have been food, pipe-weed and the like. One can perhaps imagine them selling to the Men of Dale in the East and buying from the Hobbits in the West. I'm no economist though so I personally can't speculate too much.
Food would not be that useful in transcontinental trade because it would spoil.

This is something that has always bothered me in regards to Tolkien's concept of the dwarves is their reluctance to do their own food gathering. To say this is a profound weakness (almost to the point of lethality) is hardly an understatement. In its heyday when their kingdom stretched up and down the Misty Mountains the dwarves must have had some native food gathering ability or they would not have been able to sustain such an enterprise.

I think Thorin's comment about how during the height of the Kingdom Under the Mountain how the dwarves never bothered to grow or hunt food for themselves has to be interpreted in light of the fact that Erebor was a small geographical area and there were Men living literally outside the front door to do the food growing.

For a larger geographic area such utter dependence on outsiders to obtain food seems pretty unworkable from a logistical standpoint, especially if, as I'm sure had to be the case during the height of Longbeard power, there were holds and settlements of dwarves scattered up and down the Misty and Grey Mountains. It is quite likely that not all of them would have had ready access to human farmers.

How, for example, were the Iron Hills fed? There were always dwarves who lived there and during the Third Age, at least, it would seem that there were no friendly Men nearby to grow food for them.
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:01 PM   #62
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In its heyday when their kingdom stretched up and down the Misty Mountains the dwarves must have had some native food gathering ability or they would not have been able to sustain such an enterprise.
At least in the First Age, Mîm the Petty-dwarf was knowledgeable enough about food in the wild to sustain himself and his sons, and presumably his knowledge derived from collected wisdom on that score from his people. He even knew about the breadlike roots that were unknown to Elves.

Perhaps the founders of Moria relied on such techniques for survival, but as they became more numerous and powerful, decided their time was better spent in other matters.

I think that the greatest settlements of Dwarves might have gotten the majority of their food from other local races, but the more isolated or smaller(as Mîm demonstrates) might have been more likely to fend for themselves.
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Old 02-23-2016, 03:37 PM   #63
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I figure there was an economic component to their relationship with Orcs/Sauron. Sauron did not like them and wanted to dispossess them of the Seven due to Dwarven nature, but he could work with those he hated. He hated the Númenóreans for humbling him, but he did not mind having them as servants. I do not know what Sauron promised the Dwarves.
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Old 02-24-2016, 09:25 AM   #64
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I figure there was an economic component to their relationship with Orcs/Sauron. Sauron did not like them and wanted to dispossess them of the Seven due to Dwarven nature, but he could work with those he hated. He hated the Númenóreans for humbling him, but he did not mind having them as servants. I do not know what Sauron promised the Dwarves.
Different things to different groups, I think.

The Longbeards on the whole didn't want anything to do with him. The Firebeards and Broadbeams were inconsiderable and largely out of reach.

The eastern houses had probably already fallen into evil of some kind even before Sauron's rise as the primary physical incarnation of evil, so working with them probably was not too difficult, at least comparatively speaking.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:22 AM   #65
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Boots Reference to wicked dwarves in 'The Hobbit'

After goblins are first encountered in The Hobbit, Tolkien informs the reader that in some places 'wicked dwarves' made alliances with them.
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:06 AM   #66
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I do not think that there were "evil" Dwarves in Middle-Earth. We have to remember that the recorded history of Middle-Earth has largely an elvish perspective and from an elven point of view the Dwarves may seem sometimes "evil". The Dwarves are very strong-willed, pragmatic, not easily cowed or impressed and they protect their interests fiercely and aggressive; their way of life is also antithetical to a lot of (sindarin/silvan) elven practices (mining, industry, resource-extraction, etc.). It is no wonder then that the Elves would deem them somewhat "evil" or "wicked".

But another, more important point, is that the Dwarves simply have to be pragmatic and realist in their (political) approach to life in Middle-Earth. They can't flee to Valinor to Valar daddy and mommy if things get dicey. They are bound to Middle-Earth come what may and so are forced to make hard choices and compromises simply to survive! They are not immortal, they have no valinorean "safety ticket" or strength in numbers like the humans. The Dwarves simply can't afford to always take the moral high road like the Elves! So they make a deal with some orcish tribe thats in the way of a trade route OR they, surrounded by orcish tribes in the Misty Mountains, make an alliance with one of the tribes to improve their geopolitical position and make use of the orcish infighting OR they pay some tribute to Sauron in order to stay in his good graces OR they don't immediately rebuke a Messenger from Mordor (like Kind Dain in 3018) but instead ask for more time to think, and so on and so on. Thats a cautious, realist, diplomatic approach towards the cold, hard political reality of Middle-Earth It doesn't mean that they are "evil", they simply follow political necessities in order to survive as a rather small nation amidst a sea of enemies.

Tolkien is quite clear that, aside from those forced practical arrangements, that the Dwarves were never corrupted, i.e. they never became "evil". In the "Unfinished Tales, History of Galadriel and Celeborn" he wrote about the War of the Elves and Sauron:

"In black anger he (Sauron) turned back to battle; and bearing as a banner Celebrimbors body hung upon a pole, shot through with Orc-arrows, he turned upon the forces of Elrond. Elrond had gathered such few of the Elves of Eregion as had escaped, but he had no force to withstand the onset. He would indeed have been overwhelmed had not Saurons host been attacked in the rear; for Durin sent out a force of Dwarves from Khazad-Dum, and with them came Elves of Lorinand led by Amroth. Elrond was able to extricate himself, but he was forced away northwards ... and (Sauron) turned upon the Dwarves ... whom he drove back; but the gates of Moria were shut, and he could not enter. Ever afterwards Moria had Saurons hate, and all the Orcs were commanded to harry Dwarves whenever they might."

This is a bit contradictory; by "harry Dwarves" Tolkien probably meant "Dwarves of Durins Folk" because Sauron gave away rings to the other clans afterwards so he at least tried to subdue them "diplomatically" at first. Of course that failed, and the hatred he felt for Durins Folk must have been extended to all the other Dwarves as well.
We know that by the End of the Third Age he had recaptured 3 of the 7 Rings (probably through war): so its only logical to assume that at least by the time of the Third Age the relationship between Sauron and the rest of the Dwarven Clans was as broken as that between Sauron and Durins Folk. The fact that the Dwarves of ALL Seven Houses fought a massive war of annihilation against the Orcs of the Misty Mountains from III 2793-2999 is further proof that at least by the time of the late Third Age Sauron had absolutely no control over the Dwarves because the Annihilation of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains is clearly not in his interest.
Because of the close relationship between Eregion and Khazad-Dum the Dwarves of Moria also probably knew of the danger of their Ring and (just like the Elves) never wore it during the Second Age while Sauron had the One (so even IF the Dwarves of Moria could somehow be dominated through their ring, Sauron would not have been able to achieve that because they refused to wear it). And maybe they passed their knowledge on to the other Houses (i think thats rather likely).

Another Quote from "The Silmarillion", Chapter "Of the Rings of Power":

"The Dwarves indeed proved tough and hard to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows. They used their rings only for the getting of wealth; but wrath and an overmastering greed of gold were kindled in their hearts, of wich evil enough after came to the profit of Sauron."

So Sauron failed to directly dominate the Dwarves, he only profited indirectly. Maybe this wrath lead to infighting, or it was this greed that pushed the dwarves to dig ever deeper for mithril (and awaken/release the Balrog) and maybe this greed also lead to the massive wealth of Erebor that eventually attracted Smaug.
But while the Dwarven Rings indirectly lead to evil, the Dwarves certainly did not bow to Sauron or became his servants, they are just too stubborn and proud for that.

Another Quote from the same Chapter about the Battle of Dagorlad:

"Of the Dwarves few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron."

Even IF (big if) Sauron dominated the eastern Houses of the Dwarves during the Second Age, how come so few were willing to fight for him? I guess those few were either mercenaries/specialists that Sauron paid or small detachments sent for the aforementioned political/diplomatic reasons, a symbolic token gesture maybe. I dont think that those Dwarves fought "under" Sauron (like the Orcs and Men) but more "alongside" him. I find it hard to believe that they gave up their religion, worship of Mahal the Maker, and accepted Sauron as God-King.

Again: the Dwarves cant always take the moral high road of the Elves because they are not immortal and dont have a valinorean "safety ticket" that would allow them to fall back on the Valar. They have to live, stay and die in Middle-earth and are forced to compromise and make hard choices. That is not "evil" thats life! The Elves just don't "get it". Being totally "moral" is easy if you are immortal and can always flee the situation and leave for an otherworldly paradise!

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Old 05-11-2018, 06:53 AM   #67
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Just a few idle thoughts...

In some respects I actually think morally the Dwarves are more like the Elves, or at least the Noldor, than Men. Both Elves and Dwarves were capable of being evil without having a history of directly/willingly serving Morgoth or his followers. By contrast, all Men "fell" and did so by worshipping the Shadow. When the Noldor fell (both times), worship of the Shadow was not involved, despite collaboration with Sauron in the second fall.

Perhaps it depends upon how much room for neutrality there is in the spiritual struggle of Ëa, to neither support nor oppose the Shadow. Pragmatism does seem the appropriate word, as one cannot imagine the Dwarves in the East having much opportunity to act upon a presumably natural antipathy for Sauron. If "wicked Dwarves" made alliances with Orcs, for all we know that made it more difficult for Sauron to exert his control over those Orcs, which in the broader scheme may have brought about good.
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Old 05-15-2018, 05:27 PM   #68
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It seems to me that dwarves would be most likely to serve Sauron or Morgoth for the promises of wealth. The dwarves that fought for Sauron in the WotLA for example might have been promised gold, mines, Mithril, etc...

And the dwarves hardy and resilient nature makes them impossible or near impossible to break into submission-so Sauron and Morgoth would likely have failed at attempting that-instead they would have promised them things the dwarves' hearts longer after.

Or used the fact that some dwarves were suspicious if not hostile to the elves to direct them to their side.
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Old 05-19-2018, 10:51 PM   #69
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I do not think that there were "evil" Dwarves in Middle-Earth. We have to remember that the recorded history of Middle-Earth has largely an elvish perspective and from an elven point of view the Dwarves may seem sometimes "evil". The Dwarves are very strong-willed, pragmatic, not easily cowed or impressed and they protect their interests fiercely and aggressive; their way of life is also antithetical to a lot of (sindarin/silvan) elven practices (mining, industry, resource-extraction, etc.). It is no wonder then that the Elves would deem them somewhat "evil" or "wicked".
Siding with the Melkorian forces to any extent from a moral standpoint is "evil" by definition in Middle-earth. It is heavily implied that dwarves did serve the Melkorian side in some cases.

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But another, more important point, is that the Dwarves simply have to be pragmatic and realist in their (political) approach to life in Middle-Earth. They can't flee to Valinor to Valar daddy and mommy if things get dicey. They are bound to Middle-Earth come what may and so are forced to make hard choices and compromises simply to survive! They are not immortal, they have no valinorean "safety ticket" or strength in numbers like the humans. The Dwarves simply can't afford to always take the moral high road like the Elves!

Tolkien is quite clear that, aside from those forced practical arrangements, that the Dwarves were never corrupted, i.e. they never became "evil"
I don't think that Tolkien would agree that survival is of ultimate importance but rather correct action is regardless of consequence. I'm not disagreeing that dwarves did such things, but I am saying that such actions would be inherently evil and corrupting.

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This is a bit contradictory; by "harry Dwarves" Tolkien probably meant "Dwarves of Durins Folk" because Sauron gave away rings to the other clans afterwards so he at least tried to subdue them "diplomatically" at first. Of course that failed, and the hatred he felt for Durins Folk must have been extended to all the other Dwarves as well.
I don't know that this necessarily follows. The context of the passage about the Longbeard assistance to Rivendell is, as you say, specific to the Longbeards. I think the passage should be interpreted as Sauron intensely hated Longbeards specifically and not all dwarves. This is not to say that Sauron didn't hate all dwarves. He hated everyone, but I don't think that passage supports the idea of Sauron having a special hatred of all dwarves based on that one incident.

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Even IF (big if) Sauron dominated the eastern Houses of the Dwarves during the Second Age, how come so few were willing to fight for him? I guess those few were either mercenaries/specialists that Sauron paid or small detachments sent for the aforementioned political/diplomatic reasons, a symbolic token gesture maybe.
Comparatively speaking, there may have been few eastern dwarves there to fight. Elsewhere I have speculated that even a very large number of dwarves might have seemed small when compared to the large numbers of men, elves, orcs, and other creatures assembled for the great battles of the Last Alliance.
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