Note: See also the files: measures-msg, measures-art, p-Engsh-coins-lst, p-prices-msg, casting-msg, metals-msg, metal-sources-msg

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Period coins, making coins. Sources for info and coin metals.
NOTE: See also the files: measures-msg, measures-art, p-Engsh-coins-lst, p-prices-msg, casting-msg, metals-msg, metal-sources-msg.

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at:
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Thank you,

Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous

Stefan at


Someone asked about period money. Insofar as there is a single coin

on which medieval European monetary systems are based, it is the

silver penny. The rough equivalent in the Islamic world is the

dirhem. The silver penny was originally 1/240th of a roman pound of

silver--between one and two grams. The dirhem is a bit over three

grams. Both were also used as units of weight.

I can suggest two approaches to the problem of money in the SCA. The

ambitious one, which I hope someone will someday do, would be to mint

and put into circulation a real silver coinage, based on dirhems or

pennies at their historical weight. At present prices I think a

dirhem would have about fifty cents worth of silver in it, a silver

penny about twenty-five cents. You would monetize the coin at about

twice that--treat a dirhem as a dollar or a penny as fifty cents.

That way the value as money is enough above the bullion value so no

likely fluctuation in the price of silver will make the coins worth

melting down (although, judging by recent history, that may be

optimistic--maybe you should play safe by making the penny a dollar,

which is also tidier). You get them to circulate at the nominal value

by offering to sell or buy them at that value, so if a merchant

accepts your pennies, he knows he can bring them back to you to be

traded back into dollars. This technique for keeping a token coin

(face value higher than intrinsic value) in circulation is, I

believe, slightly out of period--perhaps seventeen century. If one

could do it and make it work, it would make events feel noticably

more real--many people buying and selling with period money.
A much simpler approach, which I use and which seemed to be implied

by the posting asking about this, is to use dollars as units of

exchange but period money as units of account. I routinely quote

prices in dirhem and accept payment in dollars at one for one. If

people do not understand what a dirhem is I look puzzled, explain

that it is the common money of the civilized world, and if necessary

pull a real dirhem out of my purse to show them. Somewhere in the

process I manage to convey the fact that I have found the green

banker's notes used hereabouts will buy me a dirhem weight in silver,

and therefore accept them. Given the opportunity, I can also slide

into the story of how the dirhem and dinar first came to be minted.
The use of units of account different from units of exchange,

incidentally, is a period practice. Accounts were kept in pounds for

some centuries before pounds existed. Originally, a pound meant a

pound of silver pennies (240). As the penny was debased, royal

treasurers and the like could have kept that meaning, and

successively learned to multiply and divide by 245, 262, 270 ... .

Instead they used "pound" to mean "the number of silver pennies that

used to weight a pound--240." Similarly, in Italy later on, there

were a number of coins that existed in two forms with different

values. A real florin was a gold coin, a florin of account was a

particular number of silver coins that had been worth that gold coin

at some point in the past.

Anyone interested in these subjects, by the way, may want to look at

a fascinating little book by Carlo Cipolla called "Money, Prices and

Civilization in the Mediterranean World."
David Friedman (Cariadoc)

Date: 24 May 90 16:34:20 GMT

Organization: Society for Creative Anachronism
Silver coinage: The US governemnt reserves for itself the right to mint money,

that is to say, "legal tneder for all debts public and private". Anybody can

mint up a coin and anybody can accept it as payment, but they cannot be forced

to accept it. One cannot use privately minted coins to pay one's taxes, for

example. Likewise many merchants may not accept the coins, preferring

something backed with a little more authority and greater circulation. Various

poeople in the United States have pritned a circulated money backed by various

valuable items. One fellow circluated coins backed by beer. In his town they

were actually pretty widely accepted among merchants (but not government

agencies) because he had a repuation for rock solid integrity. Likewise,

employers may not force their employees to accept non-US moneys as wages. In

the 19th century this was a common abuse of the working class: they would be

paid in "coupons" which were only good at the company store, at company

prices. Unions reformed this habit.

I think the dangers of trying to circulate a "real" currency for SCA use would

prove more than a bunch of amateurs could handle. SCA is not a wealthy

organization, we don't have the wherewithall to back a currency and keep its

price stable. I think we would have people discounting and inflating the price

in response to rumours, and that it would be impossible to to protect the

currency against speculation and manipulation. Governments of nations have

serious problems with maintaining their currency, I think this would be a bad

thing for us to try. And since we're talking about "MONEY" suddenly its a

serious matter. Do you really want to risk losing your funds? People get very

protective of their cash, and get very irate at people they think are

endangering their money. SCA doesn't need this opportunity for bad feelings.
On the other hand, I have seen limited edition tokens used in various

interesting ways. At an event everybody arriving was issued a small number of

tokens which they then used to gamble at various period games. At the end of

games an auction of donated items was held, and the tokens were the cash used to purchase them. As I recall their was also a small flea market of things

people wanted to get rid of.In addition to the tokens people started out with,

they could also purchase additonal tokens. (This was a fund raising event.)

I see know problem with games of this sort, or tot he various other alternate

currency schemes I have heard of that were just in jest. (In one barony,

chocolate chip cookies are legal tender for paying the baronial tax.) But I

really think we should avoid any serious attempt to make a real coinage.

Their are other period uses for non legal tender coins. For example, dower

coins were sometiems struck to by monastic orders and given to members of the

family of the postulant as a keepsake of the event, and various other

commemerative coins were struck. Instead of giving out ribbons or other paper

"tickets" a group could strike a commemerative coin that was proof of admission

to an event. The site fee would have to cover the cost of making the coin.

And perhaps, as a fund raiser, a group might strike and sell commemerative

If the coin were to include the term,"SCA, Inc," that would be more than

adequate protection for ignorant purchasers of coins. On the other hand, if

you don't know what you're buying, you shouldn't buy coins. So it really

doesn't matter what's on the coins
Minting commerative coins of this sort might prove to be a valuable source of

funds. I think it would be worth a try. But please, don't try to make them

legal tender.
Yours in service,

Awilda Halfdan

bright hills, atlantia

sgj%ctj.uucp at

From: Alfgar.Maharg at (Alfgar the Sententious)
The complaint about "tygers" drove me to whip out my COIN DICTIONARY AND

GUIDE. "Crowns" were named because they had crowns on them. ("The _ecu a la

couronne_ .... has a large crown added over the shield.") "Florins" had a

fleur-de-lis on them. "Scudi" had shields. Someone mentioned "Kreutzer"-- they

bore crosses. We also find the "lions" and "half-lions" of Robert III, the

"leopards" and "helms" of Edward III, the "unicorns" of James III, the "rose

nobles" of Edward IV... If the King of the East struck coins, they would

certainly bear a tyger. Nuf ced.

Also, the "ducat" was named from an inscription referring to "iste


(this duchy), and the dollar itself is a corruption of "taler", which comes

from "Joachimstaler", because they came from the silver mines in St. Joachim's

Valley. In short, POPULAR names for coins come and came in the Middle Ages

from just about anything.

* Origin: BaphoNet (1:107/666)

From: jmike at asylum.SF.CA.US (J. Michael Hammond)

Date: 3 Jul 90 03:56:33 GMT

Organization: The Asylum; Belmont, CA

Greetings all!
For a while now there has been active discussion among several gentles

regarding the establishment of a period style currency, to be backed

by United States currency, for the use of the SCA. We have collected

a fair amount of information on suppliers, logistics, and legal

constraints, and have reached a point where we intend to open

directed discussion with merchants, officials, lawyers, and investors.

Our discussion is carried out on the mailing list

coinage at Any interested gentle who wants to

participate in the discussion, now that decisions are going to be

made, is encouraged to join the group. Send your message to me and I

will add you to the list. I also have a compilation of the previous

discussion, so you need not feel that you'd be behind the times in

I remain, as ever,

Damiano della Greccia


J. Michael Hammond 2610 Monserat Ave. Belmont, CA 94002

(415) 594-9268 jmike at ...{decwrl or bionet}!asylum!jmike

From: PSCHROED at DREW.BITNET ("Schroeder, P. David")

Date: 9 Apr 91 20:37:00 GMT

Date: 09-Apr-1991 04:07pm GMT

From: Schroeder, P. David



Tel No: (201)-408-8119

Subject: SCA Coins in A.S. XXII
Good gentles,
All this talk of "home-made" coins in the Society brings back fond memories

of one of my first events, an Eastern Twelfth Night in Myrqwood in the then

principality of Atlantia (mundanely Baltimore, Maryland).
I checked my "treasure chest" and discovered I still had the two coins I

bought back then. Both appear to be pewter and have a massive feel. The

smaller is the diameter of a quarter with a raised unicorn and the markings

XXV below it. The reverse is blank. The larger is octagonal, about the size

of a half dollar, has a crown of five points with pearls and a capital "C"

between two horizontal lines. On the reverse is a castle with three towers.

Since Myrqwuud (they could have the name so long as it was never spelled

"Mirkwood" a la Tolkien, and therefore tended to creative spellings) was

and is the heart of our fellow medievalists, Markland, perhaps these are

"crossover" coins.

On a related note, my lady and I were merchants at Pennsic for a number

of years, back when there were less than 2,000 of us there. For two of those

years we brought $100 in Susie-B's to use for change. That was back when

the government was actually trying to *encourage* their use and public

awareness of the coin was higher. Everyone seemed to appreciate getting

back "silver" and a number of other merchants also adopted the practice.

My memories of reading about medieval and renaissance faires says that

the use of checks is VERY period - letters of credit were a standard

form of exchange. Credit cards are really not that far a stretch.

If some student of the field can add a post on such traditions, it

would be appreciated. Also - how early is paper money?
Thanks also to the good folk of An Tir for the info on my earlier post.
Yours - Bertram of Bearington PSCHROED at

Re: Coining German Coins

Date: 7 Feb 92

From: tip at (Tom Perigrin)


Organization: A.I. Chem Lab, University of Arizona

Howdy, from Tom Peregrin.
This one ain't gonna be in 15'C speak, because I have to discuss

the US Secret Service, possible Mail Fraud, and US Federal Law.

I am very glad to hear that you don't want to make exact duplicates

of Mediaeval German coins, for two reasons; 1) It is against Federal Law

(US Congress, 1973) to make exact reproductions of coins without the word

"COPY" in clearly legible letters. 2) It is a pain for Professional

Some people have been trying to make exact reproductions. Imagine

the multifold problems:

1) The coins is originally purchased as a reproduction, but the info

gets lost. Maybe somebody gives it to their sweetheart, and doesn't

stress the fact it is a reproduction. Or maybe they say; "It is valuable",

meaning "It cost me $20, don't treat it like tin.", as opposed to "It is

authentic and worth $500 or more". Anyway, Sweetheart thinks it is the real

thing. They break up with the giver, and a few years down the line give it

to Sweetheart #2, who eventually sells it to a naive collector for $300.
The collector takes it into a knowledgeable coin dealer, who may

or may not know it's a fake. Eventually, somebody get's stuck with a

fake that they paid a lot of money for. Not nice.
2) Some one who is less ethical than above goes to the local stamp

and coin fair, and sells the fake for $300 right off the bat, claiming it

to be original.
3) A much longer range problem; metal objects can have a long life

span. Let us say the coin is a good reproduction. The coin goes from

shoebox to bank box, to sock, to coin shop, and finally passes as genuine

in a 100 years or so. Nobody remembers that it came from the SCA, or

that the SCA was minting coins way back then (easy to forget in 100 years).

A museum eventually acquires it. A numismatist/historian decides to

look at the effect of the inflation caused the the failure of the Herring

industry in 1300. S/he tries to do this by looking at the weight of the

silver coins from that era, and how many dies were used to strike them

(Each die has a lifetime of about 7,000 - 20,000 coins, depending on

factors). There are very complex formulae that can be used to estimate

the number of coins minted based on numbers of coins found with dies

and die linkages
Anyway, these coins show up that skew the results. Perhaps

the correct answer would be obvious, but for the fact that somebody

in 2000 decided to strike a dozen new coins of slightly different weight

and silver content. Poof, there goes a historical study.

It's almost like going to a historical site and spreading fake

artifacts around...

Anyway, for these two reasons, and several others, minting exact

duplicates is not only a bad idea, but it is against the law. It is

hard to get the law to do anything about it, but it is possible. Mediaeval

Miscillanea sells fake coins. I wrote to them expressing my concerrns

but I didn't even get a reply. I then wrote to the American Numismatic

Society and the American Association of Professional Numismatists, and

they are urging me to press charges with the U.S. Secret Service (

counterfeiting and forgery of non-US monies and antiquities is in their

baliwick). I have an appointment later this month to meet with an agent to

discuss filing a deposition and complaint. (Hint, if anybody out there

knows Mediaeval Miscillanea, tell them to answer my letter soon. I'd rather

not get involved in being a witness for Secret Service and Mail Fraud


From: kuijt at (David Kuijt)


Subject: Re: SUBJECT- Frankish Coins

Date: 23 Mar 93 21:14:32 GMT

Organization: UMIACS, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Greetings to the Rialto from Dafydd ap Gwystl!
In the hope of shedding some light on the coinage debate:
L.s.d in english coinage (up until recently) were the abbreviations for

the latin of pounds, shillings, and pennies. Solidus == shilling;

denarus == penny. This coinage system goes back to Charlemagne, and

is by far the most common coinage system throughout the middle ages

in western europe, although in various permutations.
HOWEVER: this doesn't mean that there was necessarily a shilling coin,

or (even more so) a pound coin, at any given place or time in the

middle ages. Until the dawn of the renaissance (phrase deliberately

used to avoid being pinned down about dates--I haven't got my books

with me, so I can't be exact) there was generally no shilling coin

in England, and there was no gold coinage at all. The only coin was

the silver penny. The penny was nearly pure silver (90% or more,

although this varied slightly) and weighed (generalization alert)

between .9 and 1.5 grams. The shilling (12 pennies) and the pound

(20 shillings; 240 pennies) were units of account--they did not

represent a coin. So from charlemagne until late (maybe 15th c?)

there was no shilling coin in England, and the question

>.. what a medieval shilling weighed ...

is meaningless.

The mention of gold coins is a separate (complex) issue. In 14th

century Italy gold coins were often a status symbol for their

state of issue, and (if I remember correctly) the maintenance of

a bimetallic currency caused major economic problems as the relative

values of gold and silver fluctuated.
I apologise for the lack of attribution for all claims made in this

post; I'll attempt to look this stuff up again so I can give sources.

Of course, this has little to do with the original question which

started this thread, which had to do with the dimensions of Frankish

coins used for a recipe. If the poster who started this thread will

give the date of the recipe (and by implication the date of the coins

used to measure), and the dimensions desired (weight? diameter?),

I'll attempt to look it up in my coin books, or consult with someone

with a better library. The date is important--coin sizes varied

throughout the middle ages. If my memory doesn't fail me, there

were little squat sceatta and larger thin sceatta at the same time

in Northumbria (Hossein?).

Dafydd ap Gwystl David Kuijt

Barony of Storvik kuijt at

Kingdom of Atlantia (MD,DC,VA,NC,SC)

From: Tim at (Tim)


Subject: Re: A New Society...

Date: Mon, 10 Jan 1994 20:54:01
DZ> Are dollars really not period? I know that the Germans were making

DZ> thallers in the 16th century, and I think the English called them

DZ> dollars almost from the start.
The name come from the silver mine of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, which (if

memory servies) was opened in 1520 or thereabouts; the coins from that

mine were called "Joachimsthalers" or "thalers" for short; the English got

it through the Dutch form "daler". ("Dollar" is also British slang for

what used to be called the 'crown', of five shillings value). "Dollar" was

sufficiently well known in late period for it to be used used by

Shakespeare in *MacBeth*, Act I, scene ii, line 63.
* Origin: Herald's Point * Steppes/Ansteorra * 214-699-0057 (1:124/4229)

From: cav at (Rick Cavasin)


Subject: Re: SCA A.S. 100

Date: 25 Aug 1994 20:03:24 GMT

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

re: SCA Currency
It has been tried, at least on a small scale. I was at Medieval week in

Visby two summers ago, and at the SCA camp a tavern was set up,

where you exchanged Swedish currency for Nordmarks, and then

purchased beer with the Nordmarks. The coins appeared to have

been minted by period means, and came in several denominations.

A nice touch (although I didn't think so at the time) was that

the various denominations did not appear to be evenly divisible,

although that may have been my failure to understand the explanation.

Apparently, the whole currency

was based on the price of silver ie. the worth of the small silver

coin was equivalent to the worth of the silver it contained.
A similar experiment was tried here

in Ealdormere. A gentle who shall remain anonymous

(since I'm not sure this was all legal)

set themselves up as the banker, and minted silver

coins which were sold for something like $5 each, with the stipulation

that they could be exchanged back for Canadian currency at any time.

The idea was that since they were guaranteed by the banker, people could

use them to exchange for goods and services between themselves.

I'm not sure what ever happened with it, but I don't think it caught on.
I don't think the government would take too kindly to this sort of thing

on a large scale. They generally don't like other people working their

side of the street. Too bad. It could be fun. Trouble is, most people

would want there to be a central bank where the 'real' money is stored,

where they know they can get their 'real' money back if they need it.

So who gets to hold the purse strings?

Cheers, Balderik

From: direwolf25 at (Sean mac Aodha ui Conghailie)


Subject: Re: SCA A.S. 100

Date: 26 Aug 1994 15:52:39 GMT

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