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Middle-earth-coins

various coins

In Middle-earth, several different currencies were in use. Cultures who did not use coins traded in goods but often used metal bars or ingots as a substitute. In fact, the first coinage was likely invented by the Dwarves and originally developed out of very small, elaborate shaped, metal bars and later Medals and Amulets which were originally given away as Tokens.The first quasi-official currency between Nogrod and Doriath had been dwarven Arrowheads, three nogrodian Arrowheads having been the equivalent of one donkey, one of 1l elven grain.

See:

Arnor and Gondor

The Kingdom of Gondor and most of the former provinces of Arnor had preserved the ancient Númenorean currency:

  • Double-Dragon or ducat = Gold coin of the highest Value (approx. 0,16 ounces gold)
  • Mirian (a goldpenny) = gold coin (approx.0,04 ounces gold)
  • Castar (or Canath) = Silvercoin, 1 quarter of a Mirian (approx.0,01 ounces gold)
  • Tharni or silver farthing  (a Fourpenny) = 1 quarter of a Castar (0,28 ouces Silver)
  • silver penny (approx. 0,07 ounces silver)
  • Brass coins (Brasslings or Buttons)  = 1/4 Silver Penny (approx. 1 ounce Brass)
  • copper coins (Copperlings or Quarters) (approx. 0,28 ounces copper)

In times of need, the Lords of the Westlands had also often introduced necessity money, made of Tin (often 1 ounce Tin), Lead (often 0,01 ounces Lead) or Zinc (0,12 ounces Zinc). For small transactions people also often cut coins of greater value into pieces and paid with hack-silver or even hack-copper. As everywhere purity and worth of the different coins could differ significantly throughout the ages.

  • Tin-Coins = approx. 3 copperlings
  • Zinc-Coins = approx. 1/2 Copperling
  • Lead Coins = approx. 1/16 Copperling

Black Númenóreans

The Black Númenóreans had preserved the original Númenórean coinage System and was much similar to those of Gondor and Arnor, however with the decline of Númenórean civilization the purity of their coinage was reduced and in later times coins often were cheap imitations of their predecessors.

  • Double-Dragon - Gold coin of the highest Value (approx. 0,16 ounces gold)
  • Pharazan (approx.0,04 ounces gold) = 1 Mirian
  • Tharan = 1 Tharni
  • Silverpenny (approx. 0,07 ounces silver)

After the decline:

  • 1 gold Pharazan = 10 silver
  • 1 Silver Tharan = 10 Bronze
  • 1 Bronze Coin = 10 Copper
  • 1 Copper Coin = 10 Tin Pieces

Dwarves

Dwarfcoins
The Mints of Moria were generally regarded as the best of whole Endor. The Dwarves of Dúrin's folk emitted only coins of Mithril, Naukomalda, common Gold, Naukotelpe and common Silver. Other Dwarven-tribes were known to mint three sorts of coins, the Mazuldar, Ziguldar, and Ghuladar.

Currency translation:

Moria Coins:

  • 1 Dúrin's Coin of Mithril = 20 Arthedainian gold ducats or 10 Gondorian gold ducats
  • 1 Dúrin's Coin of High-Gold = 2 Arthedainian gold ducats or 1 Gondorian gold ducat
  • 1 Dúrin's Coin of common Gold = 1 Arthedainian gold ducat or 10-16 Gondorian canath
  • 1 Dúrin's Coin of High-Silver = 2 Arthedainian silverpennies or 2 Gondorian silverpennies
  • 1 Dúrin's Coin of common Silver = 1 Arthedainian or Gondorian silverpenny

Eastern Dwarf Coins:

  • 1 Mazuldar = 1/7 Ounce high-gold = 1 Ducat or Double-Dragon
  • 1 Ziguldar = 1/7 ounce Electrum = 5 Canath
  • 1 Ghaladar = 1/7 Ounce high-silver = 3 Silverpennies
  • 1 Ghuladar = 1/3 Ounce Steel = 20 Tharni

Some dwarven tribes were known to mint 1/4 oz. Mithril coins, 1/2 oz. Platinum coins called Kelundar, and greater varies of the Mazuldar (1/2 oz. High-gold), Ziguldar (1/4 oz. common Gold), Ghaldar (1/2 oz. high-silver) and Ghuladar (1/4 oz. silver).

Elves

The Elves usually didn't recognize coins and relied mostly on barter, also elves used to estimate Silver higher than gold making currency exchange difficult. The Mirkwood-Elves, however, had started to emit a simple silver-coin, the Celeban for trade with the Northmen.

  • 1 Celeban = 1/4 Ounce Silver = 5 Gondorian Silverpennies
  • Pantnig = Noldrian coin = ca. 2 tharni
  • Telpe = high-elven silvercoin = ca. 2 silferfarthings/fourpennies
  • Mald = 1 pound of silver = ca.2000 castar or 500 mirianath

Hobbits

After the fall of Arthedain the Hobbits continued to emit imitations of Arnorian Coins. Through the late Third Age, Michel Delving retained it's mint though the Hobbits had at some point replaced the historical coin images with hobbitish writing and images. However, the mint of Michel Delving never emitted any coins greater in value than a fourpenny.

  • silver farthing or Fourpenny = 1 quarter of a Castar (0,28 ouces Silver)
  • silver penny (approx. 0,07 ounces silver)
  • Brassling or Buttons = 1/4 Silver Penny (approx. 1 ounce Brass)
  • Copperlings or Quarter (approx. 0,28 ounces copper)

Daen-Peoples

The Dunlendings and Hillmen didn't mint coins (with the exception of late Rhudaur and Angmar), however their Daen-Ancestors had introduced Torc- and lens-shaped, double-conic and axehead-shaped ingot-money. The Men od Enedhwaith continued this tradition while the Mountainmen of Gondor used standard Gondorian Coins minted by their territorial Liege-Lords.In Angmar and among the Hillmen the basic units were seoit and Cumal:

  • 1 sét = 1 iron Dagger or a half Cow
  • 6 sét = 1 Cumal (Slave-girl)
  • 1 Cumal = 3-6 Cows = 3 ounces Silver = 7 years of Work done by a strong Woman = 6-8 Seoit = the seventh part of the wergild to pay for a Freeman
  • Double-conic Ingot (4-8 lb iron) = 4-8 Canath
  • Axehead Ingot (4 lb iron) = 4 Canath
  • lens-shaped Ingot (12,2 lb bronze) = approx. 12 Tharni or 3 Canath
  • Torc-Money (3,2 oz Bronze) = approx. 3 Brasslings

Northmen of Rhovanion

The Northrons relied mostly on simple barter trade, but some more influential northron Lords, as the Kings of Dale had also started to emit coins, mostly imitations of gondorian exemplars. The earliest of these imitations dated back to the Days of Vidugavia and were Copper, Iron, and Silver coins known as the Mel, Eisarn, and Filudail.

Coinage of Esgaroth:

  • Lake-town half-penny (halfpenningur) = worth 10 gondorian copperlings.
  • Miot (earlier: Mizdo) - 1/4 ounce Silver worth approx. 1 gondorian Tharni.
  • Mál (earlier: Mathla) = 1/4 ounce Copper worth approx. 1 Copperling
  • Halfmiot (earlier:Halbamathla)- a Miot cut into two pieces.

Coinage of Dale:

  • Iárn = 1/4 ounce of Iron worth approx. 10 Brasslings
  • Mál = 1/4 ounce Copper worth approx. 1 Copperling
  • Halfmál - a Mál cut into two pieces
  • Feldeila = 1/8 ounce silver worth approx. 2 Silverpennies

Coins of Western Rhovanion:

  • Iren = approx. 10 Brasslings
  • Mael = approx. 1 Copperling
  • Mete = 1/4 ounce Silver worth approx. 1 gondorian Tharni
  • Féladael = approx. 2 Silverpennies

Rohan

The Rohirrim used gondorian currency as well as their own Pening-coin.

  • Pening = 1 silver Penny (approx. 0,07 ounces silver)

Dorwinion

The Dorwinrim used gondorian currency as well as their own high-value ivory-coin, the Kysûri.

  • Kysûri = 2 tharni

Harad

The Haradrim used their own currency of Harmîr or gold- and bronze-rings as well as Shell-money (sea-shells, often in the form of necklaces). A few of the former black númenórean Colonies and former gondorian puppet-rulers had also preserved coinage (mostly imitations of Númenórean mint). The best known Haradrim-coinage was those from Tûl Isra and Tûl Harar. The Adena of the Utter South used a primitive currency of heavy (approx. 2 pounds) bronze and copper ingots while their more civilized Drel-kind minted silver coins and the Pel both gold and silver coins, yet both peoples still relied on Black númenórean coins for more common trade.

Sîrayn:

  • Tal (Gold) = 60 royals
  • Royal (Gold) = 50 shaz
  • Shaz (Silver) = 10 shish
  • Shish (Bronze) = 10 jish
  • Jish (Copper) =

Tûl Isra Coins:

  • 1 Saris (Silver) = 10 Sort
  • 1 Sort (Bronze) = 10 Garn
  • 1 Garn (Copper) = 1 Copperling (northern currency)

Tûl Harar Coins:

  • 1 Kesh (Gold) = 5 Ged
  • 1 Ged (Jade) = 20 Kos
  • 1 Kos (Silver) = 10 Sort
  • 1 Sort (Bronze) = 10 Garn
  • 1 Garn (copper) = 1 northern Copperling

Seven Lands

  • Adena-Ingot (Bronze) = 8 Silverpennies or 2 Tharni
  • Adena Ingot (Copper) = 2 Silverpennies
  • Drel-Coin (Silver) = approx. 1 Silverpenny
  • Pel-Coin (Gold) = approx. 1 Mirian
  • Pel-Coin (Silver) = approx. 1 Silverpenny


Inner seas

In the Inner seas, the Southern Archipelago and the thin settled coastal lands of the northern Dark Lands a curious currency of plate-money was common, diversely shaped plates of silver, copper, bronze, gold and iron adorned with jewels.A plates weight was crucial as purity of the metal was expected and every small island-ruler emitted his own type of plate-money.However only very valuable luxury goods were paid with these type of plates, in everyday life barter prevailed, though on some islands necessity money made of cheap glass was in circulation.

  • silver-plate (ca. Half a númenórean pound) = 32 cp
  • copper-plate (ca. 4 númenórean pounds) = 60 cp
  • Jewel-plate (weight and gems varied widely but every jewel-plate was expected to be worth roughly twice a bronze-plate) jp = 100 cp
  • gold-plate (ca.0.01 oz gold) = 130 cp
  • Bronze-plate (ca 4 oz bronze) = 200 cp
  • glass spliter = 1/4 cp

Vog Mur

On the Vog Mur currency in general was known as "Dum".The Vogmurians used "Orv" (Gold),"Krem" (glass), "Enclad" (iron), "Gref" (jewel) and "Dom" (silver).

  • 1 orv = 500 krem
  • 1 gref = 400 krem
  • 1 enclad (ca 1/2 oz) = 200 krem
  • 1 dom = 120 krem

The Dark Lands

The Dark Lord had imitated Númenórean coinage for a long time and emitted his own currency among his vassal-kings, but most Men of Darkness still relied on simple barter trade. Cultures in Harad, Rhûn or even Eriador and Rhovanion were often dealing in Ingots or bars instead of coins:

Orcish coins:

  • 1 Lûr (Gold, ca. 0,4 ounces) = 10 Draugai
  • 1 Draug (Silver, ca. 1,5 ounces) = 10 Parai
  • 1 Hol (Copper, ca 2,8 ounces) = 10 Holai
  • 1 Par (Bronze ca 2,6 ) = 1 Copperling (western currency)(approx. 0,28 ounces copper)

Other

  • Axe-head money (approx. 4-pound iron) = 4 Canath
  • Easterling and Haradan Silverplate-Money (approx. 0,024 pound silver) = approx 7 copper-1 brass
  • Far-eastern bronze-bar Money (approx. 4-pound bronze) = approx. 4 Tharni

Metal Values in Númenórean Pounds

  • 1 Bar Gold (approx. 1 pound Gold) = approx. 96 Ducats or Double-Dragons
  • 1 Bar Electrum (approx. 1 pound Electrum) = 140 Mirianath
  • 1 Silverbar (approx. 1 Pound Silver) = approx. 4 tharni and 2 silverpennies
  • 1 Steelbar (approx. 1 Pound Steel) = approx. 60 Tharni
  • 1 Ironbar (approx. 1 pound Iron) = approx. 10 Canath
  • 1 Brassbar (approx. 1 pound Brass) = approx. 16 Brasslings
  • 1 Copperbar (approx. 1 pound Copper) = approx. 16 Copperlings

Role-Playing Games

Money

MERP

MERP has Gold, Silver, Bronze, Copper and Tin Coins.The default Values are:1 gold = 1 gold, 10 silver = 1 gold 10 bronze = 1 silver,10 copper = 1 bronze,10 tin = 1 copper.

The Rohirrim use the Pening-Coin, equivalent to one Silver coin. The Dorwinians use the Kysûri Ivory-Money, the Haradrim use Gold and Brass Rings and Shell-money, but umbarean Coins are also mentioned.

LotRRPG

LOTR RPG has five coinage Types: copper penny, silver penny, silver piece, gold penny, and gold piece. It uses the classic relation of value mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's Books: 1 Goldpiece = 4 Gold Pennies, 1 Goldpenny = 4 Silverpieces, 1 Silverpiece = 4 Silverpennies with the exception of the copperpenny which is = 100 Silverpennies.

Much of the default prices mentioned in the core book is based on research, for example, a Pony in Bree costs exactly four silverpennies- the exact price mentioned in the Book the Lord of the Rings.

LOTRO

In LOTRO there are several different types of coin, bronze, Copper, Silver, rift-iron, Gold, Platinum and Mithril. There are also different currencies mentioned, Arnorian Coins, Coins of the Hand, Coins of the Mark, Dwarf-coins. Coins are also often not simple money but special Tokens and Talismans("Lucky coin", "Coin of Spirit", "Coin of Courage", "Frostbluff Coins" etc.)

LOTRO uses a System in which 1 Gold has the worth of = 1,000 Silver and 1 Silver the worth = 100 Copper.

TOR

references

  • Middle Earth Coin Weights,  and conversion of MERP and LOTR RPG Coins, by www.itsmetor.com
  • Christian Haas, the Currencies of Middle-Earth (Essay)
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