According to Coins of Fletnern (yep - it’s FREE), the standard silver coin is the Brinston crown: “The silver Crown measures approximately an inch across and is roughly an eighth of an inch thick. While this is roughly the same diameter of a U.S. quarter, it is twice the thickness. It is however three times the weight, because silver is heavier (actually denser) than the zinc and copper used in the quarter.”
But what is it worth? The average salary in the USA (based on the social security records for 2012) is roughly $44,300. (Remember that this average includes those 1%ers that everybody always gets so jealous of.) That’s $21-22 per hour. That feels to me like someone who has a skilled job and some experience at it. I’m going to compare this rate to a skilled craftsman in Grain Into Gold, or about 12sc a day. Doing the math - That means one silver coin represents about $15USD in 2012. That’s a lot! When we first wrote Legend Quest in 1991, I remember thinking 1sc=$5. (The same math says that really would have been about $7.25, so not entirely wrong, but a bit low.)
Why does it matter? Well, the main reason it matters is that I only have copper, silver and gold coins. 100cc=10sc=1gc. This means that 1cc=$1.50. I created “bits” for Rhum, which are quarters of copper coins. That worked really well in the 1sc=$5 world, because 2 bits = $0.25, just like it did here. Now my smallest coin is effectively $0.375. It makes me wonder how the poor buy things.
I’ve recently done some math on the minting of coins, and the truth is, the person who mints the coins loses money on minting copper and silver coins. He makes quite a bit on the gold coins, no matter how I go about the math, so that’s good, but it means that unless the government is either minting the coins themselves or strictly controlling the coin minters, no one would be making silver or copper coins. That’s OK, because if you look at the US Mint’s site, they spend $0.024 per penny and $0.1118 per nickel. Dimes and quarters do pay for themselves, because dimes are cheaper to make then nickels. Still - I hate the idea that copper coins are actually a loss. (In one of my best case tries, silver coins came out really close to even. If you get the metal straight from the mine (instead of from foreign coins you buy/trade), you make money on silver and gold, but still not copper, but these guys cannot just be making brand new coins. Also, if you have to pay tax to bring the silver into the city (assuming the mint is in the city), you’re back to losing on the silver coins, though a government would probably not have to pay their own tariffs.
In Rhum, I wrote that the coins get reminted every five years. This was both an anti-counterfeiting measure as well as a means of controlling the currency. I think I need to alter that to say that the silver and gold coins are reminted, but the coppers are left as is - it just isn’t worth the effort.