Re: golden coins

From: Sandy Petersen (
Date: Wed 24 May 1995 - 18:57:35 EEST

Mike Dawson
>I believe I read somewhere that all the gold in the world would
>make a cube approximately the size of the bottom 10-15 feet of the
>Washington Monument.

        That's actually all the gold that's been _mined_, not all the gold in the world. It adds up to a cube about 50 feet on a side (i.e., the same volume as Mike's comparison, but perhaps more understandable to furriners).

>I play Wheels as TINY little things

        If gold's value is 12 times that of silver in Glorantha (which is the nominal rating), and if lunars are pure silver and wheels are pure gold (admittedly three "ifs"), then a wheel is clearly larger than a lunar. However, since a lunar is only 10 grams (i.e. about the size of a dime -- the smallest U.S. coin), this doesn't mean that wheels are particularly colossal.

>I still think the idea that the value of a coin of X grams = 2X
the >same raw metal is the dumbest rules-ish thing ever written in
>offical Runequest.

        Look it up, pal. Except in areas that the raw metal was readily available and used in trade (like Gold Rush California), that's not far off the mark for values of coined metal vs. raw in the good old days. Coining metal absolutely increases its value in a money-using system.

        That 100% profit starts to diminish somewhat when you remember that the coiner has to transport the silver, manufacture and design working dies, check the silver's purity, form the raw silver lumps into blanks, do hard labor stamping them properly, and recheck them afterwards, tossing out for remelting those that are too small, or too clumsily done, or that have a bubble or whatever. Minting coinage is not trivial, which is why barter economies often hold sway.

        In late Roman Britain, counterfeit coins made up something like 70% of the currency, and most of the counterfeits contained _purer_ silver than the "real" ones. The Britons did this, not because they were altruistic, but because they were making a nice profit.

        Counterfeits comprised an essential part of the monetary system. When coins went out of fashion, and people started using metal by weight, the system collapsed, professional armies became impossible to maintain (can't do it on a barter economy), and feudalism arose.

Sandy Petersen

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