1. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396

    Stones as currency?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by rktho, Apr 29, 2017.

    I just had an idea to give my dragon culture stone currency instead of metal coins. I don't mean precious stones, or at least not just precious stones. I mean semiprecious stones that can be cut into three-dimensional shapes that can be used for currency. I have a few questions:

    Are stones heavier than coins in general or are they actually lighter? I suppose it depends on the metal and the stone...

    If you made a mistake when cutting the stone, wouldn't you have to scrap it? What would they do in that case?

    Aren't stones easier to damage than metal? Maybe this isn't a good idea.

    Is there some kind of treatment one could use to harden the stones so they wouldn't crack, negating the issue in the previous question?

    Could a dragon use its fire to melt the stones so they could be forged in a mold similar to metal? Or would a) the fire not be hot enough or b) the mold be impossible to make from anything that didn't melt before the rock did?

    How much weight in pebbles would be manageable to fly with?
     
  2. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2012
    Messages:
    476
    Likes Received:
    192
    Why not make up your own stone material?
     
    jannert and rktho like this.
  3. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    871
    Likes Received:
    454
    There are two types of currency:

    1) Currencies backed by a commodity, which is usually a finite and immutable material (such as gold).
    2) Fiat currencies, which have no intrinsic value other than by government decree and statute (the £, $, all modern currencies).

    If the carving of the stone were intricate enough and difficult enough to copy it could achieve the requirements of 1).
    If the government (and lobby groups- bankers) were powerful enough to force people to give a worthless piece of stone value, it could achieve the requirements of 2).
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
    jannert, rktho and BayView like this.
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,673
    These are the points that the OP raised in my mind, too. I think they're important.

    The mechanics of creating the stone coins? Okay, yeah, that's something that needs to be considered. But the system behind the coins is what will really take some thought.
     
    jannert, rktho and Pinkymcfiddle like this.
  5. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    530
    Literally anything can be used as currency. Here's what a little Google search brought up:
    http://list25.com/25-strangest-things-used-as-currency/
    http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/knowledge/20-things-used-money-there-was-money

    What you really need to ask yourself is why are these stones so valuable? You're already writing fantasy, so you can invent your own stone with whatever qualities you want, but I'd go the "it's pretty and collectable" route. I mean, gold has no other use except to look pretty and a lot of otherwise worthless items are valuable because they're collectable. If you make a stone that's virtually indestructible and only a few very skilled dragons know how to carve into them (it's a very well kept trade secret), and those carvings are very intricate, I can certainly see those stones becoming very, very valuable. If you make them lightweight stones, so much the better! If fantasy readers can accept mithril from Lord of the Rings, they can accept an invented lightweight stone that's also virtually indestructible, yet still carve-able (the nice thing about the trade secret thing is you don't have to know how they do it!). It all depends on how you write it.
     
    rktho likes this.
  6. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396
    I was actually envisioning miniature geometric shapes, like cones, pyramids, cubes and hexahedrons and such.
     
  7. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    117
    Location:
    Germany
    I support the "only dragon fire is hot enough to melt this" approach. Just make molds with the desired shape and have the dragons be the only ones that can melt the material for casting. So, like what Elven Candy said, but more dragon-y. ^ ^
    If your mold is cool and thick enough, and if there is not too much molten material, it should work. Choose a mold material that has a high thermal conductivity and - if possible - high thermal capacity.

    It seems, carbids are materials with very high melting temperatures.
    Tantalcarbid has a very high melting point and also appears naturally on earth, although it is very rare.
    You can also produce it from Tantal and soot. Tantal is also rare, but not THAT rare.

    Tantalcarbid can only be solved by fluoridic or sulfuric acid which can enable normal people to tell it apart from cheap imitations. (Toss the coin into another, weaker acid and when it dissolves, it's not the real thing.)

    Oh, it's also very strong. Used for high-duty tools in industrial machining.
     
  8. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396
    You have a point. I'm not a stranger to creating new species or materials to fit the story.
     
  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,673
    But what's the significance of the shapes? Like, why would one shape be more valuable than another? Because the central government has set the values and is powerful enough to enforce them, or because there's something intrinsically valuable in the shapes?
     
    Pinkymcfiddle likes this.
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,344
    Likes Received:
    13,070
    Well...gold has lots of other uses. This doesn't really undermine your argument that mere beauty and rarity can make things valuable, but I just couldn't help chiming in anyway.
     
    rktho and BayView like this.
  11. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    871
    Likes Received:
    454
    As I said in my original post; a material that is finite and immutable has value (read: rarity- as you said @ChickenFreak ). That is why currency was backed by gold until the early twentieth century when bankers took over the world and could make more money out of fiat currencies. The use does not matter, the rarity makes it valuable in and of itself. You cannot recreate it and you cannot just go and mine more because there is only a finite amount available.

    Currently, currencies only have a de jure gold backing. Not enough gold exists in the world to back the value of currencies. Even the gold that the US pretends exists has been leased out and does not physically exist in the Federal Reserve in NY (Fort Knox is a myth- there is fuck all there). Governments only hold onto the notion of currencies being backed by gold because, as Henry Ford said: "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."
     
    rktho and BayView like this.
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,844
    Likes Received:
    20,789
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    I was going to say something similar - you'd be amazed how much gold gets used in the making of electronics - but even before gold had a technological value, it was still assigned a value that, while arguably arbitrary, was still picked above other materials as a tangible repository of value. The fact that it doesn't oxidize under normal conditions that the average human will experience probably lends to this. Fine silver also doesn't oxidize readily, which is not to be confused with sterling silver, which does oxidize readily, but only because of the copper content.

    So, as regards the fantasy application of how to make money a worthy token for value, I think the main points have been covered. Make it rare and make intrinsically physically attractive to the eye of the beholder. Make it durable. I like the idea of the "coins" not being coin shaped. It's easier to see engaging them as more durable if they are in shapes that don't feel like they're going to snap when dropped.
     
    rktho likes this.
  13. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    530
    I didn't know gold had any real uses. That'll be interesting research, indeed! *adds to list of fun things to research that I'll probably forget to research*
     
    rktho likes this.
  14. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396
    Because it
    Cool factor? Anything to be unique and dragonlike. Stones are already formed in abstract geometric shapes, so carving said shapes into more simplified and precise shapes... I don't know, exactly, pays homage to it? Plus, the number of sides could indicate denomination. Along with color.
     
  15. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    871
    Likes Received:
    454
    But what gives the stones value? Their rarity or government decree?
     
    BayView likes this.
  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,673
    It just feels like style over substance.

    Style with substance? Excellent, love to see it. But what's the basis of your currency system and economy?
     
    jannert and rktho like this.
  17. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396
    I used regular copper, silver and gold coins but realized that would be too heavy. Then I got the idea that dragons could be connected with stone just as much as metal, and it would be a good choice for uniquity. I read a series called Beyonders where they had metal coins but the coins were spheres called droomas.

    The basis of my economy is that there is a hierarchy of coins, or stones in this case, that equal higher and higher denominations. With the coins it used to be one, ten, twenty, but a ridiculously large sum of gold would be ridiculously heavy to transport in flight. I don't suppose stones would have solved the problem, since gravel is pretty heavy, but by creating a fictional ore I could bypass that.
     
  18. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    871
    Likes Received:
    454
    I think perhaps we are circling the point a little, so hopefully this makes it clearer. The background to the currency is more interesting than the currency itself, because this gives us an insight into the society. Either the stones are valuable due to their rarity, in which case you have a rather sparse, unorganised society OR the stones have no intrinsic value but are given value by government decree, which suggests an organised pseudo-democratic (read plutocratic or tyrranical - like we have now in the western world) society. This is more interesting than the coins themselves.
     
    BayView and rktho like this.
  19. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    530
    You could always use gemstones and jewelry for larger sums of money. Flying with a huge amount of anything would be cumbersome, even if it wasn't very heavy.
     
    rktho likes this.
  20. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396
    I think there could be a large deposit at the site of the mint, but make it rare elsewhere so the mint would have a monopoly to control.
     
  21. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,673
    So, if I was a dragon and wanted to make my own coins out of stone, could I do that? Like, assuming that I had the ability required. Would it be allowed for me to just sit back and start making coins?

    Or do the coins need to come from an official government source?

    ETA: Crossposted - so there's a mint? An official government site that produces all the currency? Anything made elsewhere would be counterfeit and illegal, and there's enough government power to enforce that law?
     
  22. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    530
    Maybe it's illegal to make money from it, but not illegal to mine it? Like how we do gold and silver--anyone can mine it, but only government (or private hired by the government) mints are allowed to turn it into coins.
     
    rktho likes this.
  23. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    871
    Likes Received:
    454
    In that case, the coins have intrinsic value, and that suggests a rather under-developed economy; in which you exchange items of equal value rather than IOUs.
     
    rktho likes this.
  24. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    396
    You could make counterfeits if you could find any of the stone in places other than the mint. You'd have to do it outside of a city to avoid the police.
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,673
    I could turn gold into a coin. Not a Royal Canadian Mint coin, but a flat, round chunk of metal with something decorative stamped on it? I could make that. Legally.

    Now, if I used some cheap metal and stamped a value onto the coin and said it was worth $2, even though the metal involved was only worth 5 cents, I'd be pushing it. Unless I was a powerful modern government with the oompf to make proclamations like that into reality...
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice