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. While many cultures rely on the use of currency, some others rely solely on barter. In some cities, slaves are a medium of exchange.
In the Seven Kingdoms, coins are used as a means of currency. These currently are, in order from high to low value respectively, golden dragons, silver stags, and copper stars and pennies. Golden 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 Aegon's 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.
Golden 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. The silver stags are known for the stag they bear. However, they were not minted for the Baratheon Dynasty, and had already been in use during the Targaryen reign. Copper pennies usually bear the Seven-Pointed Star associated with the Faith of the Seven.
There are older coins, dating back prior to Aegon's Conquest. Coins dating to the Gardener Dynasty in 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.
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 in the following 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.
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's 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 penny from the Seven Kingdoms, 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
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard VI.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 14, Catelyn III.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran VII.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 The Hedge Knight.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2, Daenerys I.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.