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Currency referred to the practice of using items with a somewhat universal value, namely precious metals, gems, and some minerals to determine wealth and in trade for goods and services. The most common forms of currency in everyday transactions among sentient beings of the Realms were coins (or "pieces"). Usually, most coins were made of gold, silver, and copper. Less frequently, coins made of platinum, electrum, and even iron were also found. In all cases, the standard for measuring wealth was the gold piece, even if neither gold or coins were involved in a transaction.[10][9]

A standard gold piece (gp) weighed 0.32 oz (9.07 g), so that 1 lb (454 g) of gold was worth 50 gp.[10]

The penalty for counterfeiting was death in most places, since cities, kingdoms, and nations relied on the acceptance and trust of their currency.[1]

When large sums were involved, it was common for traders to use trade bars, which were valued by weight, instead of coins.[11]

Standard Exchange RatesEdit

The everyday currency of the Realms consisted mainly of coins and trade bars. With few exceptions, the standard currency adopted throughout the Realms made use of platinum, gold, electrum, silver, and copper pieces of equal value, so they could be used interchangeably across different regions, as well as trade bars of standardized weights with fixed conversion rates.[11][8]

The exchange rates between coins of different materials has changed through history, but their relative value across regions remained mostly unaltered.[1]

As of 1357 DREdit

By the Year of the Prince, standard exchange rates were the following:[1][note 1]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

In that time period, silver and electrum trade bars were available in 10, 25 and 50 gp denominations.[1]

As of 1367 DREdit

During the Time of Troubles, platinum and gold (and consequently electrum) saw a decrease in value with respect to other metals. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[2][3][4][note 2]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum
 = 50 silver
 = 500 copper

Platinum coins were called tricrowns, plats, or pearls (in particular the Southern versions, which were officially named roldons).[4]

In this time period, silver and electrum trade bars in the 10, 25 and 50 gp denominations were still available, as well as bars valued in 500 and 1,000 gp. Trade bars from merchants were thin silver bars marked at one end with the value, and the other end had the symbol of the trading institution or coster which created it. An increasing number of these bars bore the mint mark of Baldur's Gate.[4] Trade bars were always checked by weight.[3]

Trade bars of the Iron Throne trading group were not honored by other trading organizations because this group was considered disreputable. Broken trade bars had no value, but most merchants would continue to honor the trade bars of defunct institutions.[4]

As of 1372 DREdit

By the Year of Wild Magic, the value of platinum increased and electrum pieces fell in disuse, no longer being commonly found as much as other coins. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[5][6][7][note 3]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

During this period, Baldur's Gate had consolidated the trade bar standards. This time period also saw the appearance of trade bars made of several different metals, including gold (although those were still rare at the time) and iron (although its value was not standardized outside of Mirabar). Trade bars were most commonly found in 1, 2, 5, and 10 lb weights (0.45, 0.91, 2.27, and 4.54 kg, respectively). Standard values were the following: a 1-lb silver bar was worth 5 gp and a 1-lb gold bar was worth 50 gp.[5]

As of 1479 DREdit

During the Spellplague, the relative value of coins remained unchanged. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[8][note 4]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

During this period, trade bars made of gold became increasingly more common and supplanted silver as the weight standard for that form of currency. A one-pound gold trade bar retained its value of 50 gp.[8]

As of 1489 DREdit

After the Second Sundering, electrum pieces reappeared and were once again seen in trade. The relative values of other coins had remained unchanged for over a century. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[9][10][note 5]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 20 electrum
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

During this period, silver once again became the standard for trade bar currency. Most common trade bars of this period weighed 5 lb (2.27 kg), measuring 6×2×1 inches (15.2×5.1×2.5 cm) and valued at 25 gp.[9] Trade bars of other materials also existed. A gold bar weighing 1 lb (454 g) was worth 50 gp; the same weight of copper was worth 5 sp; 1 lb of silver was worth 5 gp; and a 1-lb bar of platinum was worth 500 gp.[12]

Coinage Throughout the RealmsEdit

Nearly every major city-state and nation in Faerûn had their own denominations and minted their own currency. Not all cities minted every type of coin, however.[9]

The following sections specify the names of the most widely used and accepted currencies across Faerûn and other locations on Toril. Their exchange rates were the standard ones depending on the time period (see previous section), except where noted.

AmnEdit

Main article: Coinage in Amn

Amnian-minted denominations were the following:[4][9]

CalimshanEdit

Main article: Coinage in Calimshan

Calishite-minted denominations were the following:[3][4]

Of particular note was the silver-piece-valued ochre-tinted red worm of Memnon. Red worms were cast from silver and then coated with a dye. Old coins with the dye worn off were called "skinned worms".[4]

ChessentaEdit

When this country was a loose confederation of city-states, most had their own currency. In the Year of the Fallen Friends, 1399 DR, the war hero Ishual Karanok unified the currency into one set of coins:[13]

1 bebolt= 1 "bolt"
 = 4 authokh
 = 20 gold "drakes"
 = 200 silver "talents"
 = 1000 bronze "bits"

The bronze "bit" was equivalent to two copper pieces elsewhere.[13]

CormyrEdit

Since at least 1357 DR, the royal coinage of Cormyr was stamped with a dragon on the obverse and a treasury date mark on the reverse.[1] By 1489 DR, this custom still endured.[11]

Cormyrian-minted denominations were the following:[1][4][9]

Although gold coins, the most common coin used by adventurers, were often called golden lions throughout the Realms, only the Cormyrian coins were actually stamped with the figure of a lion.[4]

ImpilturEdit

When the kingdom of Impiltur was reunified after its Kingless years King Lashilmbrar introduced a standardized currency that replaced those individually minted by the city-states of Lyrabar, Hlammach, Dilpur and Sarshel.[14]

LantanEdit

Trade bars from Lantan were flat envelope-shaped bars of worked steel marked with the great wheel of Gond. They were worth 20 gp each and used primarily along the Sword Coast.[4]

MirabarEdit

Trade bars from (Mirabar) were made of black iron and shaped like rectangular spindels(sic). They were worth 10 gp in Mirabar and 5 gp in the rest of the Realms.[4]

SembiaEdit

Main article: Coinage in Sembia
Silver piece-5e

The Sembian silver piece was triangular-shaped.

Sembia produced no platinum coins but readily accepted those of other nations. By the Time of Troubles, Sembian-minted coins were the following:[4]

Sembian silver hawks and ravens were triangular in shape and electrum blue eyes were diamond-shaped. Cormyrian falcons and Sembian hawks were used interchangeably. Sembian gold coin designs varied from year to year but were always a distinguishing five-sided shape.[3][4]

The square-shaped steelpence was introduced by the Sembian government to replace the silver piece, but it was overproduced and its value had since dropped to 1 cp. It remained in circulation as of 1489 DR. The usual foreign copper pieces were also accepted throughout the city.[4][5][9]

By 1372 DR, Sembia no longer minted electrum blue eyes. Its characteristic triangular silver pieces were called "hawks" during this period.[5] After the Second Sundering, Sembia resumed minting blue eyes and calling their triangular silver pieces "hawks".[9]

Trade bars from Sembia were ingot-shaped silver bars dotted with copper and the Sembian symbol. They were considered "face value" and, besides the usual 10, 25, and 50 gp denominations of this period, trade bars valued 5 gp could also be found.[4]

ShaarEdit

Shaar Rings were made of sliced and bored ivory and hung on long strings by the plainsmen of Shaar. Rings were found in bundles, and each ring was worth 3 gp each.[4]

Shou LungEdit

Shou Lung copper was any copper coin which was not immediately recognizable, and therefore declared to come from the mystical East and given a value of 1 cp. Only a small number of these coins actually came from Shou Lung, or any of the Kara-Tur nations, but the name stuck. Shou Lung silver was similar: any unknown or badly worn silver coin given a value of 1 sp.[5]

Trade bars from Shou Lung were slender bars of silver, definitely oriental in origin, that had made their way to the West. Shou Lung trade bars were worth about 40 gp each.[4]

SilverymoonEdit

Silverymoon currency-5e

The eclipsed moon from Silverymoon, the waterdhavian pierced harbor moon, and Sembian triangular hawks.

Silvaeren-minted coins were the following:[9]

In addition to these coins, Silverymoon also minted the crescent-shaped electrum "moon", whose value increased substantially over time, but was always worth less outside of the Silver Marches. During the Time of Troubles one moon was worth 2 ep in the Silver Marches and 1 ep elsewhere.[4][15] By 1372 DR, it was valued at 2 gp within the Silver Marches.[16] After the Second Sundering, the moon was valued at 2 unicorns (or 1 unicorn outside of Silverymoon). During this same period, Silverymoon also minted the round "eclipsed moon", rated at 5 unicorns in Silverymoon and 2 unicorns elsewhere.[9][note 6]

TethyrEdit

Main article: Coinage in Tethyr

Due to upheaval in Tethyr during the Interregnum period, Tethyan gulders, moelans, myrats, and zonths were only worth between 60% and 90% of their usual value.[4]

Tethyr made use of two-gold-piece coins called "brakar". They also produced trade rings in 20-, 50-, and 100-gold-piece weights.[17]

WaterdeepEdit

GoldDragonCoins

The gold dragons of Waterdeep.

Main article: Coinage in Waterdeep

Waterdhavian-minted coins were the following:[18][9]

Like Silverymoon, Waterdeep also minted two special coins. The square brass "toal", or "taol" (either name was correct),[19] was worth 2 dragons, but had no value elsewhere,[4][18][9] so they were usually exchanged when one left the city. The palm-sized crescent-shaped platinum "harbor moon", inset with electrum, was rated 50 dragons in the city, but much less everywhere else. During the Time of Troubles a harbor moon was worth only 2 gp outside of Waterdeep,[4] but this value increased to 30 dragons after the Second Sundering. Both coins had holes to allow them to be stacked in strings.[9]

ZakharaEdit

Zakharan-minted coins were the following:[20]

Zhentil Keep Edit

Instead of referring to the coins by their material, most people would call them by their original government-issued name, except for the ones minted at Zhentil Keep, which had unflattering nicknames given to them by Zhents.[9]

Zhentil Keep minted the following coins:[9]

  • platinum piece: "platinum glory", popularly known as "flat metal gem"
  • gold piece: "glory", popularly known as "weeping wolf"
  • electrum piece: "tarenth", popularly known as "hardhammer"
  • silver piece: "talon", or "naal", popularly known as "flea-bit"
  • copper piece: "fang", popularly known as "dung-piece".

Other Forms of CurrencyEdit

Coins, books, ale

Gold, knowledge and ale: the currency and merchandise traded at the Yawning Portal in Waterdeep.

GemsEdit

Gems were even rarer than metals and required great skill in mining, cutting, and polishing. Gems had great value because people desired them for their beauty and often wore them in jewelry. The arcane Arts also required certain gems as spell components, which increased their rarity even more, as they were consumed in the casting of powerful spells.[21]

Gond BellsEdit

Gond bells were introduced by the Lantanese and used in regions of the North, in particular in trade between worshipers of Gond. The small brass bells enclosed a loose ornamental stone which caused it to clatter. Each was worth 10 gp on the open market or 20 gp if traded to a church of Gond.[4][18]

Tharsult StatuesEdit

Tharsult Statues were small art objects used in trade. They were made of ivory, jade, or serpentine and were used as coinage in that region. Most of these that reached the North were treated as curios and were worth around 15 gp. In their native land they were worth about 5 gp each.[4]

Paper CurrencyEdit

Mercenary Cards were small cards of parchment about the size of a Talis card, marked on one side with the symbol of a particular mercenary company. The reverse was usually a handwritten scrawl from the troop's paymaster authorizing payment. These became currency by being found in loot caches, won in card games, or stolen from the unwary.[4]

Blood notes were scrolls, letters, or other carvings representing I.O.U.s and promissory notes from the listed person(s) to the holder of the note. They were so called because they must be signed in blood by all parties involved and taken to the local Lord for the affixing of the royal seal.[1] Blood notes could be offered by individuals, adventuring companies, or countries and cities to cover debts. In common usage the debtor was legally obligated to pay when the note was presented. Blood notes from deceased individuals were not binding.[4]

Bela was paper money used by barbarian tribes to the east in Kara-Tur. In western Realms it was worthless and occasionally offered as an insult.[4]

A Letter of Trade was similar to a Blood Note and called for a delivery of a particular item or items to the bearer.

AppendixEdit

GalleryEdit

Waterdhavian currency

NotesEdit

  1. The year 1357 DR corresponds to the "present" in p. 6 of the 1st-edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Set.
  2. The year 1367 DR corresponds to the "present" in p. 23 of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised).
  3. The year 1372 DR corresponds to the "present" in p. 78 of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. The 3.5-edition Player's Guide to Faerûn fixes the present date at 1373 DR in p. 166.
  4. The year 1479 DR is set as the "present" in p. 42 of the 4th-edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.
  5. The 5th-edition Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide does not fix a particular year, but sets the "present" time in the interval between 1489 DR and 1492 DR in pp. 15 and 18.
  6. Page 20 of the Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition instead states that a moon is worth 1 gp within the city and 1 ep elsewhere, while the eclipsed moon is worth 5 ep within Silverymoon and 2 ep elsewhere.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 David "Zeb" Cook (August 1989). Player's Handbook (2nd edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 66. ISBN 0-88038-716-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised). (TSR, Inc). ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 112. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  12. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Brian R. James (May 2010). “Backdrop: Chessenta”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dungeon #178 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 68–77.
  14. George Krashos (August 2006). “Impiltur: The Forgotten Kingdom”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #346 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 59.
  15. Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  16. Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 85. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
  17. Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 14–15. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  19. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 78. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
  20. Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 85. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  21. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), pp. 34–54. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.