Watching an episode of the Hercule Poirot mysteries, I was encouraged to look into information about old currencies. Specifically, a scene regarding the “absurdity” of a six shilling (72 pence) charge for a chunk of meat (during post WWII times) prompted me to look into the set up of the old English currency, and from there, I looked into others, like the ancient Greek drachma and the Roman denarius. This got me thinking about the currency the Elves would use in my stories. I decided to take a little of the Roman and English stuff and come up with my own names, and form the currency for the Elves, even if it’s only mentioned briefly in certain scenes of my writing. It helps me feel like it is all more alive in my head. Anyway….
The lowest form of the currency is a cent or pence equivalent, and since the majority of the Elves are generally a nature loving breed of people, I presumed that the names for these things should be based around nature. Thus, their cent is called a “Lasse” which means leaf. And under the pretense that there are many leaves on a Tree, their dollar, or pound, would be named for such, or “Ord.” Lastly, I felt, why stop there? Just as there are many leaves on a tree, there are many trees in a forest, and so there is a higher dollar, or pound, named thusly, or “Eryn.” Each individual coin I named to reflect some aspect of the material used to make such a coin. Sometimes, currency gains slang terms that become universally recognized and accepted. (i.e. buck being used to refer to the dollar, quid being used to refer to the pound)
Tel’Lasse (“The Leaf”), Tel’Orn (“The Tree”), & Tel’Eryn (“The Forest”)
Per – copper coin, Per are worth 1/2 of a Lasse. (also sometimes called a Tharn, “Twig”)
Mir – copper coin, Mir are the standard 1 Lasse coin. (A Leaf)
Uru – bronze coin, Uru are worth 3 Lasse.
Eneg – bronze coin, Eneg are worth 6 Lasse.
Paen – silver coin, Paen are worth 12 Lasse.
Telem – silver coin, Telem are worth 30 Lasse. (also sometimes called an Olb, “Branch”)
Síla – gold coin, Síla are worth 75 Lasse.
Pery – gold coin, Pery are worth 150 Lasse.
Col – Tamberil coin, Col are worth 300 Lasse, or 1 Orn. (A Tree)
Mall – Tamberil coin, Mall are worth 900 Lasse, or 3 Orn.
Airi – Gaeril coin, Airi are worth 1,800 Lasse, or 6 Orn.
Carar – Gaeril coin, Carar are worth 3,600 Lasse, or 12 Orn.
Celer – Mithril coin, Celer are worth 9,000 Lasse, or 30 Orn.
Ithil – Mithril coin, Ithil are worth 22,500 Lasse, or 75 Orn.
Laur – Maldaril coin, Laur are worth 45,000 Lasse, or 150 Orn.
Macal – Maldaril coin, Macal are worth 90,000 Lasse, 300 Orn, or 1 Eryn. (A Forest)
And now, a little information on the metals. Mithril did not only feature in the Tolkien universe of stories around Middle-Earth, but in other fantasy realms. According to dictionaries compiled from Tolkien’s writing, Mithril means “shining gray” and is used to refer to true-silver, perhaps platinum. I felt why should silver be the only one. So I came up with Tamberil and Maldaril as copper and gold equivalents to that idea. The idea of bronze coins comes from the roman currency system. Oddly, there is no word for bronze in Tolkien’s Elvish languages. I used Gaer for the sparkling bronze equivalent, because it has to do with the color of copper, which is as close to bronze as I can find among the dictionaries. It means red and ruddy, more than copper, so… take what you can get. Anyway, there we have it.
Obviously, the coins would also be carved into the shapes of leaves, perhaps with some green worked in with the metals, to make them look more like leaves.
Anyway, this is only the currency for the Elves, and could be the same for Elves from Arvandor as well as Demeteria, as the designs carved on the leaves themselves could specify which world they’re from, as opposed to the leaf design aspects. Like with other coins, marks of the monarchs could be on one side, while the other side bore the mark of the leaf and perhaps some structure or saying. I’ll be working on currency ideas for the other groups of peoples within each story in time as well though.