Now when I
have your attention, let’s have some theory here! I will not try to load you
with all stuff from university economics course, but we will go over the
basics. I hope it may help some of you in real life too.
We all use money for many things but, have
you ever thought, what exactly are they? Money is an item or verifiable
record that is generally used to get for goods, services and pay debts.
Simple, right? Now, as well as many other
things in the world money have functions.
This is the basic function of money as a valuable good. Basically it means that
you can exchange money for things or services and the other way round. Or even money for money.
Measure of value.
Different kinds of goods are equal and share with each other on the basis of
prices (exchange rate, the cost of these goods, expressed in the quantity of
money). Product price performs the same measurement function as the length of
intervals in geometry or mass of the bodies in physics. You don’t really need
to know what space or weight is to make a measurement, an ability to compare
the desired value with the standard will be enough. Currency unit is a standard
for the goods in our case.
Medium of circulation
Money is used as an intermediary to handle the goods. This function is crucial
ease and speed with which money can be exchanged for any other commodity
(liquidity). When you use the money commodity producer is able, for example, to
sell the goods today, and buy raw materials only after day, week, month and so
on. In this case, he can sell his goods in one place and buy the required ones
in another. Thus, money is a means of overcoming the temporal and spatial
constraints in the exchange.
Instrument of payment.
The money is used for registration and payment of debts. This function takes an
independent value for situations unstable commodity prices. For example, some
goods were bought on a credit. The amount of debt expressed in money, not in
the amount of purchased goods. Subsequent changes in the price of goods have no
effect on the amount of debt to be paid in cash. Money performs this function
when we have monetary relations with financial authorities. Money plays the
similar role when any economic indicators are expressed in them.
Storage of funds.
Money, that is accumulated but not used, allows a transfer of purchasing power
from the present into the future. Storage means function is performed by money
that doesn’t participate in the money circulation. However, keep in mind that
the purchasing power of money depends on inflation.
Money functions as a universal means of payment, the universal means of
purchase and universal materialization of social wealth. World money is usually
considered reserve currencies. For direct cross-border payments money from
different countries can be used.
Now when you know what money is and what is
their function, let’s move to more practical things.
What amazes me quite often and not in good
way, is how fantasy writers treat metallic money. People just don’t understand
that you can’t go around throwing gold and silver like they are nothing but
banknotes. Why so? You see, back in days things were different. But before I move to explanation why it’s an
atrocity, let’s have a brief look on the history of money.
Money not always and not everywhere were, you know, coins made of metals. Hence our next thing to discuss: commodity money. It’s a type of money whose value comes from a commodity of which it is made. They consist of objects that have value in themselves, as well as value in their use as money. Things that have been used as mediums of exchange include gold, silver, copper, bronze, gems, salt, peppercorns, tea, large stones (such as Rai stones), decorated belts, shells, alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, candy, cocoa and coffee beans, cowries, barley, animal pelts, cattle, bird feathers, carved bones and many others.
As a matter of fact, commodity money is to be distinguished from representative money which is a certificate or token that can be exchanged for the underlying commodity, but only as the trade is good for that source and the product. A key feature of commodity money is that the value is directly perceived by the users of this money, who recognize the utility or beauty of the tokens as they would recognize the goods themselves. That is, the effect of holding a token for a barrel of oil must be the same economically as actually having the barrel at hand.
Representative money is something that is not in the physical form of currency, but represents the intent to pay money. For example, paper check from a bank. The check is not a physical piece of money, but it implies the intent to repay.
Ok, done here. Now in relation to worldbuilding you - most
likely- will deal only with commodity money. Unless you have chosen a time
period, when paper checks and alike are already in a widespread use. Such as 19th century or
1950s, for example.
So now, I think you’ve made your mind with
physical parameters of your setting, done with geography, flora, fauna and more
or less sketched a couple of cultures. So probably, you have also set your mind
on how and where your OCs are going to travel or at least where they buy food
and clothes and weapon and other things. Or where they steal all the things, if
that’s the case.
Now, ask yourself – do the money my OCs use
are coins? Shape doesn’t have to be
round and flat. This one actually came from the fact that first it was easier
to make a metal rod and then cut it into little round slices. Russian rubles,
for example, are called so exactly because this is how they were made. Ruble
literally means “a cut-off piece”.
Shape can be anything you want. Round with
a hole in the middle, as in traditional Chinese money – it’s easier to carry it
around. It can be shaped as their sacred animal (detailed or not) or a
horse-shoe shaped like West African manilla. Basically, anything you want. So
feel free to go wild. I will touch this more next time.
Now, remember what I have said about throwing around gold and silver ?
Okay, let’s apply common sense here:
might get herself in trouble – people might simply steal stuff from her,
because fools and money part their ways fast. She can get herself killed in the
who throw money around attract attention and this is not what you want if you are on the run.
will look like spoilt brat literally bragging “look at how much money I can
spend on a simple porridge, you filthy peasants” in the eyes of the local
population or even her party. Don’t know
what is worse.
didn’t do the bloody research.
So for the sake of simplicity, let’s have a look at some prices in England and France. Money goes as follows:
1 pound = 20 shillings (s)
1 crown = 5 shillings
1 shilling = 12 pence (d)
1 penny = 4 farthings
1 mark = 13s 4d
During the Medieval period, the
major type of food consumed was cereal, such as wheat, corn, maize and so on,
with meat and fish being relatively expensive and thus, more scarce. We can
determine that the average annual consumption of cereals worked out at 300kg
per person, or 1200kg for the average family of four. We also know the average
number of working hours available annually, and with these two pieces of
information it becomes easy to work out average wages - if we know food prices.
England 1320 160kg cereal cost 37 shillings
France 1339-69 100kg of cereal cost 50 shillings
Thus in England the minimum
hourly wage had to be 1.75 pence. Similarly in France it would be 2.5d. In most
cases of course this food would have been grown by the family themselves, or in
the case of labourers in cities provided by their employers. On top of this,
there would almost certainly have been a payment in cash; to the farmer this
would have been in the form of extra crops for barter. Such pay merits would
probably have been on a similar scale to that suggested next:
Unskilled Labourer Ѕd/day 3Ѕd/week
Skilled Labourer 1-2d/day
Skilled Craftsman 3-6d/day
This gives an average conjectural
weekly wage as follows:
Unskilled Labourer 15ѕd 21d
Skilled Labourer 19-26d
Skilled Craftsman 34-54d
Those persons who are self-employed would have to pay for their own food as
well as making a bit extra if possible out of their profits.
I mean, why would anyone in their right mind pay money that can be used to buy a ton of stuff for a simple room in a tavern and some shitty meal?
Okay, I hope I made this part clear. We will talk about designing money and working monetary relationships into your setting in the next part.
So here’s a potentially handy link for anyone who wants to go way overboard with Agent Carter/Captain America fic research (not that I know anyone like that, or happen to be anyone like that …). This site is meant for WWII reenactors. It has a huge list of resources intended for bringing your reenactment character to life, many of which ought to be equally useful for capturing the 1940s milieu in fic. Highlights include a page with replica paperwork (ID cards, ration books, train tickets, passes for weekend leave, etc.), an overview of general 1940s pop culture, specifics on various aspects of uniforms and rank insignia, the contents of an American GI’s footlocker. and details on performing everyday tasks that might not be familiar to people in the 2010s, such as how to use a WWII-era camera.
This one is actually a Chrome App. Do something by using the Pomodoro technique. Set up a timer and finish your task before the end of the time you set! You get breaks between tasks and if you’re not done with your task when the time ends you can always finish it after a small break! (you have no idea how many times this app motivated me to finish my essays)
Pocket is an app (IOS - Android - Windows Phone - Kobo) that allows you to save a page for later. You can tag the pages to find them easily. You can also save a page from your computer and read it later on on your phone!