Currency

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Coins and money is a manner of currency used mostly by merchants, owners of establishments, and noble classes, while smallfolk might use either coins or barter.

Depiction of Silver Stag of King Aegon I Targaryen, By Tom Maringer © 2007

Westeros

Seven Kingdoms

In the Seven Kingdoms, coins are used as a means of currency. Prior to Aegon's Conquest, coins from the Gardener Dynasty in the Kingdom of the Reach were golden. They were known as 'hands', and featured the hand-shaped sigil of House Gardener on one side and the face of a king on the other. These golden coins are roughly half the value of a golden dragon.[1][2]

Depiction of Silver Stag of King Aerys II Targaryen, By Tom Maringer © 2007

The current currency was established shortly after the unification of the Seven Kingdoms following Aegon's Conquest and was used through the whole Targaryen rule and continued after Robert's Rebellion. In order from high to low value, respectively, these are golden dragons,[3] silver stags,[4] and copper stars, pennies, half-pennies, and groats.[5][6][7] The semi-canon A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying includes another coin: silver moon.[8] Golden dragons are more frequently used by rich merchants and noble lords and ladies. Smallfolk, who do not have such riches, tend to exchange copper and silver coins, or turn to trade. The minting of the coins, exchange rates, and like matters are overseen by the Master of Coin.[9][10]

The king's coinage is one of the most visible manifestations of royal authority. Golden dragons bear the face of the king in whose time they were minted in, as well as his name.[11] On the other side, the golden dragon bear the three-headed dragon. The silver stags are known for the stag they bear. However, they were not minted for the Baratheon Dynasty; They had already been in use during the Targaryen reign.[11] Copper pennies usually bear the Seven-Pointed Star associated with the Faith of the Seven.[citation needed]
Depiction of Copper Star of King Robert Baratheon
Initially it was created as a copper penny, but the coin ended up being too large and heavy for a penny and Martin changed it to star. [12] By Tom Maringer © 2007

King Viserys II Targaryen introduced a new royal mint during his reign.[13] During the First Blackfyre Rebellion, Daemon I Blackfyre had his own coins, depicting his own face on one side, and a three-headed dragon on the other.[14] During the War of the Five Kings, Lord Wyman Manderly suggested his own seat of White Harbor as a location where King Robb Stark could mint his own coinage.[15]

Among the Ironborn culture, while women are allowed to buy ornaments with coin, warriors only take items, be it jewelry or items as food and water, off of the corpses of the enemies he has slain. It is called paying "the iron price", whereas paying with coin is called paying "the gold price".[16][17]

Values

Specific values of each of the coins have not yet been mentioned in any of the canon works of A Song of Ice and Fire. The semi-canon A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying game by Green Ronin has placed the value of the coins as represented in the table, which it states are to be used as a rule of thumb, as rates may change across different regions, time periods, situations (i.e. war-time versus times of peace), etc.

Coins
Dragon
Moon
Stag
Star
Groat
Halfgroat
Penny
Golden coins Dragon
1
Silver coins Moon
30
1
Stag
210
7
1
Copper coins Star
1470
49
7
1
Groat
2940
98
14
2
1
Halfgroat
5880
196
28
4
2
1
Penny
11760
392
56
8
4
2
1
Halfpenny
23520
784
112
16
8
4
2

The coins most commonly encountered are pennies, stars, stags and dragons.

Examples of currency rates

  • King Maegor I Targaryen, during his war against the Faith, paid one golden dragon for the head of any unrepentant Warrior's Son, and a silver stag for the scalp of a Poor Fellow.[18]
  • At the time of The Hedge Knight (209 AC), a plain yet complete set of good steel armor with greaves, gorget and greathelm could cost eight hundred stags,[11] which equals almost four golden dragons.
  • At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, the Iron Throne is more than six million dragons in debt,[19] which represents a colossal sum. The biggest part of this debt, three million dragons, is owed to House Lannister, the rest to Mace Tyrell, the Iron Bank of Braavos, several Tyroshi trading cartels, and to the "church" of the Faith of the Seven. By 300 AC the Crown’s debt to the crown was established to be a total of 900.674 golden dragons.[20]
  • King Robert I Baratheon is a prodigious spender, and sets the rewards for the Hands tournament in 298 AC at 40.000 golden dragons to the winner of the joust, 20.000 golden dragons to the runner-up, 20.000 dragons to the winner of the melee, and 10.000 dragons to the winner of the archery competition.[19] These prices are exceptionally high, due to Robert’s generous nature.[21]
  • During the Whitewalls tourney in 211 AC, on the other hand, only 30 dragons were promised for whoever came in second.[14]
  • In 211 AC, a tent could be bought for 10 pennies.[14][22]
  • Lysene pirate Salladhor Saan, who has two dozen ships under his command, demanded thirty thousand gold dragons a month for his service as a sellsail.[23]
  • Edmure Tully promised one thousand gold dragons to whoever would capture Jaime Lannister, after Jaime had escaped from captivity in Riverrun.[citation needed]
  • 300 gold dragons represent a formidable ransom for a knight, even if he belongs to a large noble house,[24] while 100 gold dragons represent a reasonable ransom for a younger son of a noble family.[25]
  • During the War of the Five Kings, prices soared in the capital. Six coppers for a melon, a silver stag for a bushel of corn, and a gold dragon for a side of beef or six skinny piglets were all shockingly high prices.[26]
  • In 300 AC, the maidenhead of serving girl Rosey is set on the price of one dragon.[6]

Beyond the Wall

The lands north of The Wall are harsh lands, and the Free Folk inhabiting those lands usually barter for goods amongst themselves based upon the needs of the parties involved.[citation needed] The free folk have been known to trade with the brothers of the Night's Watch as well,[27] and smugglers, with whom they exchanging goods in the little coves on the eastern coast along the Shivering Sea. They take steel weapons and armor in return for furs, ivory, amber, and obsidian and have little use for coins.[28]

Essos

Dothraki

The Dothraki neither buy nor sell[29][30] and do not really comprehend it.[31] Buying and selling is considered to be unmanly.[32] Trade is allowed in the sacred city Vaes Dothrak, where, by the leave of the dosh khaleen, merchants and traders gather to exchange goods and gold,[32] though they mostly trade with the Dothraki themselves.[33]

Despite the common saying that Dothraki do not sell,[34][35] the Dothraki do sell their captives on occasion to the Slaver Cities.[36] They call these slaves “gifts”, and return receive gifts from the slavers.[35] Giving and receiving gifts is the common way of Dothraki for doing trade;[34][35][30] However, giving a gift in return might not always occur immediately upon receiving a gift.[37]

Cities of Essos

Coins of the Free Cities
Top (left to right): Braavos, Pentos, Lys, Myr, Tyrosh
Bottom (left to right): Volantis (front and back), Norvos, Qohor, Lorath.
Depicted by Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn in The World of Ice and Fire

Each of the Nine Free Cities has its own bank, and some have more than one. The Iron Bank of Braavos is richer and more powerful than all the rest combined.[38]

For Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen, the three slaver cities located in Slaver's Bay, slaves is their main trade as well. Slaves are bred and trained to perform all the work of daily life. As such, the economy of these cities is based on this slave labor. In many of the Free Cities, slave trade is also a large part of the economy. The Free City of Lys, for example, is well-known for training bedslaves. The major exception is Braavos, where slavery is forbidden.

Each of these cities use their own coinage. It is unknown how they relate to one another in value. Braavosi use square iron coins, [39][40], while Lyseni coins are oval in shape and have a naked woman stamped on them.[39] Volantis employs honors, which are little coins no larger than a penny. These coins have a crown on one side, and a skull on the other.[39][41] From the Slaver Cities, Meereenese coins include honors,[29] while the Yunkai'i use golden marks which are stamped with a stepped pyramid on one side and the harpy of Ghis on the other.[42]

Other coins, for which no region is specified, have ships, elephants, or goats[43] depicted on them.[39]

Quotes

I am fond of coins. Is there any sound as sweet as the clink of gold on gold?[34]
Illyrio Mopatis

See also

Trivia

  • In the episode The Wolf and the Lion of the television series, Petyr Baelish, during the Tourney of the Hand, says that he could buy twelve barrels of expensive Dornish wine with a hundred golden dragons.

References and Notes

  1. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  2. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  3. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard VI.
  4. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 14, Catelyn III.
  5. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran VII.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  7. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  8. A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
  9. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  10. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The Hedge Knight.
  12. So Spake Martin: Blackwoods-Brackens Feud and Coinage (August 13, 2003)
  13. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys II.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 The Mystery Knight.
  15. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
  17. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  18. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  19. 19.0 19.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
  20. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
  21. So Spake Martin: Summerhall (June 19, 1999)
  22. Duncan initially had 2 stags (which equal 112 pennies), until he bought the tent; He only had twenty two pennies, three stars and one stag after that, which together equal 102 pennies. This count assumes that currency rates have remained equal.
  23. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  25. A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
  26. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
  27. A Dance with Dragons, Prologue.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
  29. 29.0 29.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2, Daenerys I.
  30. 30.0 30.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 71, Daenerys X.
  31. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
  32. 32.0 32.1 The World of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Grasslands.
  33. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 54, Daenerys VI.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 50, Daenerys VIII.
  36. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  37. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36, Daenerys VI.
  38. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
  40. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl.
  41. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
  42. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
  43. Possibly Qohor

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