1. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.

    Denominations of money.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Tourist, Apr 1, 2012.

    Despite being a borderline fantasy story, I dislike ignoring the idea of commerce. For example, in movies I often see the characters jump out of taxi cabs without paying.

    But my story does have a 'created world.' It wouldn't make sense to use dollars or pounds or yen. Out of desperation I have used the term 'ducat' as a working term until something better comes along.

    How have you guys dealt with this problem? I have considered some item that just could be 'swiped' but that seems too much like science fiction or plugging in a Prius.
     
  2. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,722
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I wrote a short story set in an alternate-history version of Canada (technological level was roughly sixteenth century) in which the currency was silver. I had only one denomination of coin, and I just called it a silver. Characters would pay each other in silvers. I suppose larger transactions could be handled in gold, and smaller ones in copper, and I'd have called those coins golds and coppers.

    Not very imaginative, but pretty blatantly obvious.
     
  3. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    That's my take, as well. I don't want to sound like I created something just to be witty, but I don't want to sound like just referring to everything as coins and folding money.

    The problem arose when I had to describe where my lead lived. I decided to have him continue to reside in "his father's house." The idea there was that he would continue to be viewed as just the son of a prosperous man. In depicting that, I had to create the idea of "wealth" and then the wheels came off...

    Besides, I never carry 'cash,' just a pouch of quarters in a chain wallet. It's faster, easier to count, even with gloves, and as a married guy I never get to handle the big bills, anyway.

    I'd like to create that same idea in the story, hence I need a name for the coins.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    It depends entirely on your setting and your genre. Briefly, what are they? (e.g. Is it urban fantasy set in a modern-day world?)
     
  5. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    In my story I had a few different denominations form the different science fiction cultures. The most common one is the Peroc . it is broken into eighths. So there is 1/8 4/8 6/8 one, five and twenty unit coins. Bills come in tens, twenties, and thirties. One more socialist society has “coupons” as their unit of currency. These come in one, two, five, ten, twenty units. This currency is used for “ discretionary spending”
     
  6. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Funky, my story is set in neither locale. I just wanted a prop to show that the characters had to live an existence with the same mundane items we do. For example, I love Texas toast, but I haven't eaten any in over three years. So I indulge my craving and set a tone all in one prop.

    James, your answer is my overall idea. We separate on how much detail we are using. I, too, want the structure of differing currency, but more like, "The hero only had three ducats, coffee would have to wait."

    In other words, you got the flavor of money, even some of its intrinsic value, but I don't need the entire spectrum. And I'm not sold on the name 'ducat,' I just figure it's foreign enough to convey my idea to the reader.
     
  7. psychotick
    Online

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    If it's a pure fantasy world with low level tech then you'd probably want to stick with old ideas of currencies. Someone said silver and I'd go with that. A few coppers for something cheap, maybe a silver or two for something more expensive and then a gold piece as the top. You've also said ducats which sounds like pirate treasure, so if you stick with that theme you'd have bits and pieces as well.

    Another option is that if you've got a kingdom and a king, then your currency could be based on him. I've read books where they talk about using royals as currency, i.e. a coin with the king's head on it. So maybe a copper royal etc.

    And then if you base it in the past you could go to some actual ancient currencies and just adopt them. Google Roman currency or what have you and work with that.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. Erato
    Offline

    Erato Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    A place called home
    ^ Denarii and sestertii and ases (not kidding). What exactly do you mean by a created world? Like medieval fantasy, or an Earth colony, or some otherworldly human society unconnected with Earth? If the last, I always solve such problems by hitting the keyboard randomly. You get some good words that way: Sijisnof, Armogal, Undep? When in doubt, make it up ;)
     
  9. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    I sent my lead character to Purgatory. I don't believe it exists, or at least I hope not. But it ain't Heaven or Hell, so I gave him my life--that'll fix that ungrateful stripling.

    Psychotick, while my story is set on dry land, I use naval jargon for vehicles and everyday items. Perhaps 'ducat' is the correct noun, after all.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Consider the euro. It's a synthetic standard for the exchange of goods and services, given an arbitrary name, and yet it behaves just like older cuirrencies whose origins lie in the murky past.

    I like a name like that over the ubiquitous "credits". It hints at a cultural connection, rather than a sterile arbitrary denomination.
     
  11. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I think you miss my point. What is your setting and what genre are you writing in? This will affect your monetary denomination.
     
  12. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Don't laugh, but I consider my story "Fantasy Semi-Autobiographical Religious Science Fiction."

    That's a polite way to say that I steal from everybody. The lead is from our Earth, and a backdrop is created for him to make a decision. While things like money and the color of his native flag might change, they still speak English, fire weapons he recognizes and there are Terran vehicles he knows how to drive and call by brand name.

    In other words, stuff you too would recognize, just a bubble off plumb.
     
  13. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    If you want to be imaginative, your (fictional) culture can use something like shells, pearls or the fruit of a certain tree for currency, provided they're not too common and so similar they can be assumed to have the same value. This doesn't require a central authority to keep check on the currency, and has worked in real-world history.

    Historically, not only valuable metals, but also valuable goods such as spices or incense have been used for currency, but it's too cumbersome for everyday transactions, since you have to measure the amount every time. Unless you have a central authority that can divide the goods into standard amounts and stamp them. When this is done to metals, you get coins.

    Historically, the "dollar" has its origins in the old "silver taler", a popular coin which was imitated by governments in Europe and the Americas over and over again, and called "dollar" in English-speaking countries, so it's not too far-fetched that your fictional world also uses dollars.
     
  14. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Thank you for the info.

    The reason I chose 'coins' as a method of payment over folding money was the very idea of a durable exchange media a rough-and-tumble class might use. You know, like a cowboy with a vest pocket full of cartwheels.

    One member here mentioned pirates, and that dovetails into my thinking.

    I mentioned my use of quarters for personal purchases. In the old days I used Susan B. Anthony dollar coins for the same reason. If I could get enough of them, I would also use Sacagawea dollars, but most people hoard those. I just transfered my habit to my lead character.

    Not all vending machines take dollar bills.

    http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb231/TheTourist_bucket/001-138.jpg
     
  15. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    "Dollar" is quite a widespread term for currency, but I suppose if you use that they US, Canadian and Australian readers might think it's the local dollars. But if they speak English in your world then words will presumably have the same etymologies to you can go back to the roots of "dollar": "thaler". Or since that comes from the Germanic word for valley, which was part of the name of the place where the silver was mined, you could call the currency something like a "dale". "Cents" still works if they divide them into hundreds.
     

Share This Page