Friday, February 14, 2014

A Bit about Historical Gold Coins

A Bit about Historical Gold Coins
Heidi Kneale

In 1678, the most common British gold coin was the golden Guinea, worth about 22 shillings (in the old money) or equivalent of a Pound (new money). They were a recent mintage, having been around for only a decade or so. Before then, there was the English gold sovereign, Unites, Laurels, and Broads, all worth about 20 shillings.

For a comparison, a housemaid's annual wage about this time was about three guineas a year, plus vails (tips), if she was lucky. (Then again, she also got room and board and clothing in the form of livery, about 2-3 outfits a year.)

So, to come up with a hundred guineas was a seriously daunting task.

Could you have done it?

In "As Good As Gold", our heroine Daywen Athalia must come up with a hundred pieces of gold. Earning it (by the sweat of her brow or on her back) is out of the question, so she must resort to good, honest theft.

Theft is how Bel MacEuros acquires his wealth--stealing it from fey creatures.

His current acquired wealth comes from Germany, in the form of Gulden or Guilder. (Because you want to ask: Florins were also gold coins, but only up to the 18th Century. After, in the 19th and 20th centuries, Florins were silver.)

Gold is fungible--flexible in exchange of mutual substitution. The gypsy woman who sets the price knows this, and is happy to accept gold in pretty much any form, whether it be minted as Guineas or Guilders. Golden florins were smaller than Guilders or Guineas. Would the gypsy woman have taken a hundred florins, or would she have preferred guilders?

Have you ever held a gold coin?

A bit of trivia: Australian's modern-day currency features one- and two-dollar coins fondly referred to as "gold coins" because they shine like gold when new. They are not actually gold, but are minted in aluminium bronze (92 percent copper, 6 per cent aluminum and 2 per cent nickel). Not a speck of gold to be found, except in the hearts of generous Australians, who freely donate to charities who ask for a "gold coin donation".

Heidi Kneale
As Good As Gold - Available now on Amazon

No comments: