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.
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. 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
- Penny and Halfpenny.
- Half Groat, 2 pennies.
- Groat, 4 pennies.
- Star, 8 pennies.
- Silver Coins
- Stag, 7 stars or 56 pennies
- Moon, 49 stars or 392 pennies
- Gold Coins
- Dragons, 30 Moons, 210 Stags or 11,760 pennies.
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.
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.
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:
- Honors are gold coins which were used in Qarth and Volantis. They are no bigger then a Seven Kingdoms penny, bearing a crown on one face and death's head on the other. Gold Honors are used in Meereen.
- In Lys, coins are oval in shape and have a naked woman stamped on them..
- In Braavos there are square iron coins.
- In Volantis the economy is heavily reliant upon slave trade.
- In Yunkai there are golden marks stamped with a stepped pyramid on one face and the harpy of Ghis on the other.
Orders of magnitude
- At the time of The Hedge Knight (209 AC) it was not unusual for a plain yet complete set of good steel armor with greaves, gorget and greathelm to cost 800 stags, roughly four dragons.
- At the beginning of the novels, the Iron throne is more than six million dragons in debt, which represents a colossal sum. Approximately half of this debt was 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. Subsequently, the Crown debt only increased with a total of 900,674 gold dragon in debt to the Faith.
- The Hands tournament reward was 40,000 dragons to the winner of the joust, 20,000 dragons to the second, 20,000 dragons to the winner of the melee, and 10,000 dragons to the winner of the archery competition.
- A Lysene pirate prince with two dozen ships under his command might command 30,000 gold dragons a month for his service as a sellsail
- 1,000 gold dragons are promised by Edmure Tully to whoever captures Jaime Lannister after his escape/release from captivity in Riverrun.
- 300 gold dragons represent a formidable ransom for a knight, even if he belongs to a large noble house. while 100 gold dragons represent a reasonable ransom for a younger son of a noble family
- 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.
- 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 12 barrels of expensive Dornish wine with 100 Gold Dragons.
|“||“I am fond of coins. Is there any sound as sweet as the clink of gold on gold?”||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ So Spake Martin, Blackwoods-Brackens Feud and Coinage, August 13, 2003
- ↑ The Hedge Knight.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2, Daenerys.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl (Arya I).
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion.