marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,


In the legends of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, the waking sleepers reveal their strange happening by one of them trying to buy food with coins bearing an emperor who reigned decades earlier. Which was indeed a very common way of judging times -- archeologists date graves by the coins in them, in the eras where they are so lucky as to have them included in grave goods.

Distance could matter, too.  In the legend of Saint Dymphna, her father tracked her down when the innkeeper commented on his unusual coins -- and how he had seen them only once before.

Coinage was often important.  Discovery of gold mines often heralded economic booms, because the increase in money supply facilitated trade; that, after all, is why money was invented in the first place.  But it's kinda hard to use in stories except as local color, handing the characters a pile of disparate coins.

Though Poul Anderson did a little piece about fairy gold -- the money landed in a town where there were half a dozen people each of whom wanted to buy something and could afford it if only they could sell something.  The gold worked its way about the town, and landed in the hands of the man who had originally gotten it before vanishing.  And the ancient coins would make it obvious when characters found a treasure trove, even if -- or especially if -- they killed a dragon to do it.  And coin exchange can be a nasty surprise if you are in far-off lands. . . .

Still, most of it is useful only for local color or minor hiccups in a novel.
Tags: world-building: economics

  • smugglers

    They were supposed to be a scene. The smugglers appeal to the new queen to have the tariffs lowered with the promise they would become honest…

  • decisions and beginnings

    Two ideas are slowly turning to stories. Setting out to outline the sequel to my Sleeping Beauty take, set when she wakes up. I don't think she's…

  • Here or there

    When originally noodling with a story, when still trying to add in new ideas or figure out where an idea fits, it's a good rule of thumb that, when…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded