Coins of copper, silver and gold are the main currency in the world of George R. R. Martin’s Pieśń Lodu i Ognia although some cultures in it rely solely on barter, and in some cities, slaves are a medium of exchange.
Coins are used in the Siedem Królestw, chiefly Gold Smoks, Silver Stags and Copper Stars and Pennies. Gold Smoks 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 Mur.
The current currency was established shortly after the unification of the Siedem Królestw following the Podbój Aegona and was used through the whole Targaryen rule and continued after Rebelia Roberta. 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 Starszy nad Monetą.
Gold Smoks bear the face of the king in whose time they were minted in, as well as his name. During the rule of Ród Targaryenów the reverse bore the three-headed smok. Although the Silver Stags are known for the stag they bear, they were in use during the time of the Błędny Rycerz, eighty years before Robert Baratheon, whose sigil was a stag, came to power. Copper Pennies usually bore the Seven-Pointed Star associated with the Wiara w Siedmiu.
Specific values of each of the coins are not mentioned directly in the books and are based on a semi canon source, the Pieśń Lodu i Ognia 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
- Smoks, 30 Moons, 210 Stags or 11,760 pennies.
The coins most commonly encountered are: Half-Pennies, Pennies, Stars, Stags and Smoks; rarely does anyone have the change on levels between.
- Pre-Conquest currency
There are older coins, still in use from before the Podbój Aegona. In Uczta dla Wron we learn of gold coins of the Kingdom of Reach, which were known as 'hands', they feature the hand-shaped sigil of Ród Gardenerów on one side and the face of a king on the other, with each coin roughly half the value of a golden smok.
The lands north of Mur are harsh lands, the Wolni Ludzie 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 Nocna Straż rangers and smugglers from the Wolne Miasta 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 Dothrakowie, 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 Zatoka Niewolnicza main trade are Niewolniks. a practice derived more than five thousand years ago from the Imperium Ghisarczyków and the Valyriańskie Włości which succeeded it. Slaves are bred and trained to perform all the work of daily life. Zatoka Niewolnicza 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 Zatoka Niewolnicza 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 Siedem Królestw 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.
Orders of magnitude
- At the time of Błędny Rycerz (209AC) 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 smoks.
- At the beginning of the novels, the Iron throne is more than six million smoks in debt, which represents a colossal sum. Approximately half of this debt was to Ród Lannisterów, the rest to Mace Tyrell, the Żelazny Bank z Braavos, several Tyroshi trading cartels, and to the "church" of the Wiara w Siedmiu. Subsequently, the Crown debt only increased with a total of 900,674 gold smok in debt to the Faith.
- The Hands tournament reward was 40,000 smoks to the winner of the joust, 20,000 smoks to the second, 20,000 smoks to the winner of the melee, and 10,000 smoks to the winner of the archery competition.
- A Lysene pirate prince with two dozen ships under his command might command 30,000 gold smoks a month for his service as a sellsail
- 1,000 gold smoks are promised by Edmure Tully to whoever captures Jaime Lannister after his escape/release from captivity in Riverrun.
- 300 gold smoks represent a formidable ransom for a Rycerz, even if he belongs to a large noble house. while 100 gold smoks represent a reasonable ransom for a younger son of a noble family
- During the Wojna Pięciu Królów, prices soared in the capital. Six coppers for a melon, a silver stag for a bushel of corn, and a gold smok for a side of beef or six skinny piglets were all shockingly high prices.
Conversion Rates to Real Life Currency
A single Gold Smok 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 Turniej Namiestnika 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 Smoks. 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/
References and Notes
- So Spake Martin, Blackwoods-Brackens Feud and Coinage, August 13, 2003
- Błędny Rycerz; page 477 of the original US Hardcover edition of Legends
- Uczta dla Wron, Rozdział 7, Cersei II.
- Uczta dla Wron, Rozdział 16, Jaime II.
- Nawałnica Mieczy, Rozdział 54, Davos V.
- Starcie Królów, Rozdział 63, Daenerys V.
- Taniec ze Smokami, Rozdział 1, Tyrion I.
- Taniec ze Smokami, Rozdział 2, Daenerys I.
- Taniec ze Smokami, Rozdział 45, Ślepa Dziewczynka.
- Gra o Tron, Rozdział 20, Eddard IV.
- Uczta dla Wron, Rozdział 28, Cersei VI.
- Starcie Królów, Rozdział 10, Davos I.
- Nawałnica Mieczy, Rozdział 44, Jaime VI.
- Nawałnica Mieczy, Epilog.
- Nawałnica Mieczy, Rozdział 32, Tyrion IV.
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