Currency

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Depiction of Silver Stag of King Aegon I Targaryen, By Tom Maringer © 2007
Depiction of Silver Stag of King Aerys II Targaryen, By Tom Maringer © 2007
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 GRRM changed it to star.[1] By Tom Maringer © 2007

Coins of copper, silver and gold are the main currency in the world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire although some cultures in it rely solely on barter, and in some cities, slaves are a medium of exchange.

Contents

Westeros

Seven Kingdoms

Coins are used in the Seven Kingdoms, chiefly Gold Dragons, Silver Stags and Copper Stars and Pennies. Gold Dragons are used mostly used by rich merchants and noble lords and ladies, while smallfolk tend to exchange copper and silver coins and barter is common in rural areas among the smallfolk and up along the Wall.

The current currency was established shortly after the unification of the Seven Kingdoms following the War of Conquest and was used through the whole Targaryen rule and continued after Robert's Rebellion. The king's coinage is one of the most visible manifestations of royal authority. The minting of the coins, exchange rates, and like matters are overseen by the Master of Coin.

Gold Dragons bear the face of the king in whose time they were minted in, as well as his name.[2] During the rule of House Targaryen the reverse bore the three-headed dragon. Although the Silver Stags are known for the stag they bear, they were in use during the time of the The Hedge Knight, eighty years before Robert Baratheon, whose sigil was a stag, came to power. Copper Pennies usually bore the Seven-Pointed Star associated with the Faith of the Seven.

Specific values of each of the coins are not mentioned directly in the books and are based on a semi canon source, the A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying game by Green Ronin. Their value in ascending order:

Copper Coins
Silver Coins
Gold Coins

The coins most commonly encountered are: Half-Pennies, Pennies, Stars, Stags and Dragons; rarely does anyone have the change on levels between.

Pre-Conquest currency

There are older coins, still in use from before the War of Conquest. In A Feast for Crows we learn of gold coins of the Kingdom of the Reach, which were known as 'hands', they feature the hand-shaped sigil of House Gardener on one side and the face of a king on the other, with each coin roughly half the value of a golden dragon.[3][4]

Iron Islands

The Ironborn of the Iron Islands follow their old ways, they can trade only what has been taken by force.

Beyond the Wall

The lands north of The Wall are harsh lands, the Free Folk inhabiting those lands usually barter for goods amongst themselves based upon the needs of the parties involved. Free Folk have been known to trade with the Night's Watch rangers and smugglers from the Free Cities and perhaps Westeros as well, 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.[5]

Essos

Dothraki

The Dothraki, who control much of the Essos mainland, are said to "not believe in money". They do not engage in trade, instead they have a sort of honour system where they accept gifts and then give gifts in return, but they do so in their own time.

Slaver bay/Free cities

As their name implies, the city states of Slaver's Bay main trade are slaves. a practice derived more than five thousand years ago from the Ghiscari Empire and the Valyrian Freehold which succeeded it. Slaves are bred and trained to perform all the work of daily life. Slaver's Bay and many of the Free cities economy is based on this slave labor. It can be said that slaves are used as a form of currency in Slaver's Bay and other cities.

Essos major port cities are trade hubs connecting the east and west, with traders introducing various coinage. Known coins in use are:

Orders of magnitude

Conversion Rates to Real Life Currency

A single Gold Dragon converts to about 13,000 Euros, 17,222 US Dollars, or 11,111 Pounds Sterling. This calculation is based on a remark made by Petyr Baelish during the Tourney of the Hand in the episode The Wolf and the Lion, where he quips that he could buy a dozen barrels of expensive Dornish wine with 100 Gold Dragons. By averaging the prices of fine wine in the real world, and assuming that Westeros uses the standard 225 liter wine barrel, this exchange rate is calculated. For more information, see http://www.moneyinadvance.co.uk/sci-fi-currency-converter/

See also:

References and Notes

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