August 23, 2016
While I will be out of pocket until September 1, I am working on some new fantasy notes.
I have updated the Manumiro story at right as well as Kerduka. Some updates on Ville de Colima as well.
There's no way to figure what will be popular and what will not be both in coins and banknotes. I have to admit, some places I have researched and researched, creating a detailed depiction of the place the coins or notes represent is not a factor. In fact, likely the most popular of the notes has been the multi-note set from Kerduka.
Kerduka was the name of a place I renamed after getting a linguist to do some translating for me. At that point much of the original Kerduka became a place known by another name. In Kerduka's place I created a story without much depth nor detail. Why Kerduka and the notes for the places were so popular is beyond me.
Then the mother of pearl shell coins for Abemana, not to be confused with Abemama, an island in Kiribati that has plenty written about its past and even it's present. I'll be able to try more of these soon.
I'll be getting with Arion The Wanderer on the mermaid coin and some new ideas for coins in silver and gold perhaps. As I will have more time on my hands, I hope to hunker down on coins once more.
For those that might not be aware, about 3 years ago four of us formed a non-profit organization and applied for a radio station. A couple of weeks before the station was to begin, after purchasing the equipment, my board got cold feet. We were trying to launch on an extreme budget. The studio, a computer, would be at the 'studio' in a board member's man cave. My plan was to spend a weekday each week there selling and a day working on all the things my board members needed, including sleeping on an air mattress at their home. When they got cold feet, the studio and a salesperson vanished. Using all my savings I would have had under a year to get a new board, get the station afloat and make enough to pay me a salary after the remaining board hires me to manage it. A typical station takes about 2 years to go from square one to being able to do that. Unless I was just extremely exceptional, I would be living under a bridge before a station could produce a paycheck.
I'm helping another broadcaster get started. He is buying the equipment on payments and, truthfully, I need it. After about 5.5 years our client at my day job left us. It took almost 7 months of zero income before we got another client. 5 months in my boss said I'd get no paycheck until we go a new client, so I went 2 months with no pay and then a 40% reduction in pay (our new client is paying a much lower rate per month, a concession you make for a start up company to help them get their feet firmly planted. That left me losing money each month. I have now recovered almost $800 a month I was once spending. I still need to make more. So that equipment payment will almost get me there...within $100 a month.
Now that my station will not happen and I have found a way to reduce my expenses to adjust to me new lower income, I'm ready to do much more with Blue Waters Mint. I'm more than willing to pull some dollars from savings to get some new stuff out there.
The beauty of my job, even at a lower pay, is the ability to watch the station at home. That gives me plenty of time to work on other projects while I do that.
August 14, 2016
IT'S A FLUKE I TELL YOU! No matter how much planning you do, something always comes along. The ideas for 'places' that issue coins is the first process on the road to a coin. Naming the place usually comes later. A favorite source of names is the Constructed Language.
Some folks create languages as a hobby. Almost always it is based on a mix of several real languages to create their distinct tongue. Some of these language creators offer word lists you can browse. I look at those lists for words I think might look nice on a coin. The English word doesn't matter. If the word in the created language means corkscrew but is an attractive word I'll use it but not the meaning of the word in English.
So, I had an idea of a displaced Polynesian community in the Indian Ocean. I knew Peruvians raided islands and took folks but might it have happened from folks in the Middle East or Asia? Maybe but I don't know. Maybe a group of Polynesians were blown off course and wound up there. I don't know. So I built a story of a lost Polynesian island in the Indian Ocean. I had been inspired by an offshore island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Searching constructed language word lists I saw Palaliku. Cool name I thought and wrote it down. I think it meant Orange Juice. I assigned the name to my displaced Polynesian island story.
Move forward about a year. Talking coin ideas with Greg Franck-Weiby, I mentioned the place and described it. He felt sure it would be near the Maldives. He suggested I read up on Minicoy in Lakshadweep, the group of islands above the Maldives, belonging to India. I admitted I had no certain denomination or coin in mind.
Doing so, I learned Minicoy had been part of the Maldives but supposedly about 1600 a typhoon destroyed Minicoy so some folks went to the Sultan of the Maldives to ask for money to rebuild. They got none. So, they sought a Sultan on the coast of the Indian mainland for help. This Sultan gave them money in exchange for their loyalty to him.
Because of the devastation it might have been some went with fishermen to the Andaman and Nicobar islands to harvest food to take back to Minicoy. The long tradition of fishing these waters began before the typhoon. In fact most went to the Nicobar islands but it was known both the Andaman and Nicobar islands had tribes that were cannibals. For safety Minicoy fishermen would set up camp on outer islands.
Now, this Sultan's heirs made a deal with the British to assume their lands. That included Minicoy. A British colonial government official asked a returning fisherman what they called their island. The fisherman thinking the fellow asked where he had come from, he replied Cannibal, the name they gave the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. That name, cannibal, is Minicoy in their language. The true name of Minicoy is Maliku.
So after learning all of this, I figured Palaliku needed to be a place related to Maliku or Minicoy. The displaced Polynesians could be somewhere else. In retrospect, all I changed of the story was the ethnic makeup of the population.
Naturally we did a Larin coin. Everything else was a fluke. Somehow the name I selected shared 'liku' at the end. It was highly possible a group from Minicoy (really named Maliku) would set up camp on an outer island like this to either gather food after the typhoon (or others that destroyed crops in later years) or at least were used as a fishing base camp. The Palaliku story is historically sound in reality as if I had somehow peered into the future unaware of the research I would eventually do.
That's not all. In the very beginning I created a fantasy note for the Republic of Excelsior. I intentionally placed it at the southern tip of South America. I had a book on uninhabited islands that noted many islands were not named and most had never been 'discovered' beyond being flown over by government planes to know what was there. It seemed likely a shipwrecked group could have landed there, established life on the island and had never been detected.
My boss at my day job said I should put it up on eBay and ask folks where it was or for details on the place. He said I could incorporate their responses in the 'story'. So, I put up the listing for the out of the blue name I picked called The Most Serene Republic of Excelsior. Within hours I started getting responses. A few were to a link where a map indicated an entity on an island about the same size I made Excelsior. The entity name was Excelsior. It was a couple of years later I figured out it was a glacier or stream by that name. The fact it was where I had indicated it would be and there was indeed a geographic feature in that area by that name, well, it's a fluke.
In the world of building fantasy countries and islands where the only reality is indeed the paper note or coin, how is it there is some part of history or some geographic feature totally unknown to me when I created the story of a fictional place. I tell you it's a fluke. It really is. I am always amazed when this happens but it sure is more common than not. Best of all it jives with my thinking:
A good fantasy is a place that is set in real history and real culture that seems plausible enough to be even though it is all a fantasy. In movies, I really liked Close Encounters of the Third King and The Shining. While both flicks had some unreal twists, they seemed plausible enough with enough reality to feel it could happen. Maybe there will be more flukes ahead and I'll be much more surprised than you because I never had a clue.
MERMAIDS! Today I talked about the Mermaid coin for Nuikviss Aoi. It will be later this year. Too many jobs ahead of me at this point.
I want your opinion. I am thinking a larger size coin. Should it be pure silver? If so, how much? Remember, the die costs are much more per coin than the silver would ever be, maybe double or triple if a larger coin (as it needs more detail). If I use $10 in silver, we might be talking $40 as my cost on the higher end. Dies are made by hand exclusively for the coin. To be able to sell to dealers, I have to get them some profit. The hardest part of this is if I use a cheap metal, the coin is still costly. I'm usually happy making a dollar or two per coin but dealers want more for carrying the inventory and I can't under price them. The price must be something you think is fair and affordable. Your suggestions will sure help. Just click Contact Us and let me know your thoughts.
August 11, 2016
Coins that inspire. Discovery of coins is so much fun. For me, it is a detailed process. Seeing a coin I like means not just obtaining it, assuming I can afford to do so, but also to know what the coin meant to the person when it was circulating. What would it buy? How did it relate to, say, a day's pay? How did it convert to better known currencies that were 'rock solid' at the time?
The Tang, for example, was meant to be a copper version of the Larin. In other words, it's shape and weight was to look like a Larin except the metal is copper versus silver for the Larin. It takes little thought to understand why this coin failed and is long lost to history without a single surviving coin as evidence. Surely the merchant, having been presented a Tang coin might have easily figured the consumer had created a counterfeit to try to con the merchant out of 4.8 grams of silver in merchandise for a lowly copper lookalike. It was a colonial government 'con job' on the public that was met not so kindly by the savvy merchant, I suspect. No wonder it failed.
The Tang was real and it had a real conversion. With simple luck, I stumbled upon that actual conversion. All coins, like today, are easily converted to respected and known currencies where the value was constant. For example, the Spanish Pieces of Eight. The Tang at about 4.8 grams of copper was equal to a colonial coin issued by the very same government, a Duit or Quarter Stuiver.
You might have noticed big copper slab coins that look more like a dog bone made of copper. One of the denominations is 4.75 Stuivers. There's a reason for that strange value. 4.75 Stuivers is equal to a silver Larin. There are 60 Stuivers to a silver Pieces of Eight. Knowing this, a Tang, being 1/4th of a Stuiver is then 240 Tangs to a Pieces of Eight. That puts a Tang being worth almost 1.65 grains of .999 silver, a true conversion.
This makes the Tang a small change coin. Even if we took the purchase power then and related it to today's cost of living, perhaps it would likely be under $1 US in buying power. Quite frankly, I haven't found a good conversion except a comparison between British and USA cost of living stats from about 1600 forward. It's a cool little calculator where you type in the desired year in the past and the current year to equate the value of a coin or any monetary amount to today's purchasing power.
You might be saying, Why do this? A valid question. It enriches the enjoyment of the coin in my book. I want to feel it in my hand, know how it was used, the value it carried when issued and how it related to other coins. It is a foreign entity today when coins are not the value they carry as a denomination. Back in the day, a coin was valued only on the actual metal value. The country issuing the coin carried some weight. By this, I mean if the country was stable and authentic in its coin's metal value versus denomination (ie: a Pieces of Eight was a constant...not varying in silver weight). So, such a coin was more trusted.
For fun, let's look at some coins: In Gibraltar there was the 1/2, 1 and 2 Quart coins. A Quart was actually worth about 1.8122 grains of silver then (480 grains to a troy ounce). The unusual "Double" coin of Guernsey was worth about 0.8681 grain of silver, maybe about .9061 by another conversion. So, about 434-435 Doubles, give or take, would equal a Pieces of Eight. 80 Doubles was a French Franc then and there was always trouble converting it to the British Pound which is why there were several rates of exchange over the years.
Now that we know that, what was the coin worth to the person at the time. Running the calculator, 12 Doubles would get you $1 US in buying power today. A Quart would get you slightly less than 10 cents US in buying power.
Then there are nations that issued coins in valued metals no matter how small that coin might be. The Romans had tiny coins and the Greeks introduced the Tetartemorion or Quarter Obol, as small as 4 millimeters and weights as low as .1 gram but normally around 5 millimeters and about .2 gram coin in silver. Then there's the Nepalese Dam. It varied from about .04 gram to half a grain of silver and was generally about 6 millimeters. Keep in mind being hammer struck and depending on the way the silver was weighed, sizes and weights varied but in reality at that tiny weight, it really didn't matter too much.
Such tiny coins have been around for centuries. There's the gold 1/32nd Massa at anywhere from .075 to about 1.15 grains of gold and typically 6 millimeters that circulated centuries ago.
It has been a novelty item, the smallest gold coin in the world, issued in what is now India. It's not much bigger or weighing more than a grain of sand. This reinforces the way money was perceived back then. There could be no inscription visible to the naked eye, but rather the weight of the metal that validated the value. Today it is what the coin says it is...a fiat currency where the coin is a symbol of the value, not it's true value in metal.
Tiny coins have always fascinated me although the above coin is a bit too small. I just feel like a coin has to have an identity or stated value. That needs not to be in written language but at least in symbols. And that has me thinking. Might some of my future releases mimic true values in actual conversion metals (ie: silver) even when it is a tiny amount? Might a symbol be okay as an identifier? Would it need a number? Perhaps.
I ran the formula on the Uvelikiel coins. It might work. I think I might see if a hammer struck silver coin might work. Maybe I should explore some of the many currencies that circulated in the part of the world that inspired Uvelikiel to find that little known denomination lost to time except for a few hardcore coin collectors.
That brings up the other thing about Blue Waters Mint coins: creating a place, such as Uvelikiel, involves hours of roaming the internet seeking something that inspires me. I take my notes, look at real history and culture and start to write of the fantasy country that will have a coin. It is not just the coin that, while a fantasy, has a real world inspiration and a real world conversion from a place inspired by the real world, but the history and culture of the region.
I admit it is a no rules mish-mash of data. Uvelikiel is a translation provided by a gentleman that constructed a language. There are folks who love the evolution of language so much they create a language from scratch and devise words based on rules of the language families that inspired them. The place that inspired Uvelikiel is a hamlet in France on the border with Spain. The currency is inspired by an actual currency introduced about 165 years ago but will be named for a much older currency to match the time frame. The actual and older currency conversions needn't matter any more than it would today. There are several currencies with 'cents' as a denomination, but their values are not uniform when compared with other currencies also using the denomination of 'cents'. A Belize Dollar is not equal to an US Dollar but carries the same denominational name, for example.
For now, the fun continues....
July 12, 2016
I spent much of the day on research on currencies. Sure our coins are fantasy coins but I like to reflect a very real value to the fantasy. I will explain.
When I find a coin I like such as the tiny 10.7 millimeter .64 gram copper Travancore Cash Coin, I want to truly understand what the coin was and what it represented in actual use. When I can understand this and apply it to a current currency to compare it to, I have reached my goal.
For example, the Cash Coin described took 6,840 to make a British Pound Sterling. Finding out what it's true value was is rather tricky. You can compare it to gold or silver. You can compare it to wages or what it would buy compared to today. I like the what it can buy formula because that is a constant versus a constant. The reality is people earn much more for each hour of work even compared to 50 years ago. Silver and gold changes many times a day.
The 1898 Travancore Cash coin would be worth just 1.976 US cents. In other words if you went to the grocery store today and bought an item worth a dollar, you'd need about 51 Cash Coins to make the purchase.
Comparing the Gibraltar Quart of 1842 to today's purchase power, you'd have about 18.716 cents US in your pocket.
The amazing coin denomination to me was the Guernsey Double. The coins came in 1, 2, 4 and 8 Doubles. Using an average of conversion rates, by today's dollar, the One Double coins would be 8.4658 US cents in 2016. That would make the 8 Doubles around 68 cents in value today.
Back in 1919 and 1920 there were stamps commonly called Chainbreakers that were denominated in Vinar. This was during a bad inflationary period. So, the stamp values in today's dollars are simply not worth the ink and paper nor the glue to affix the stamp. A Vinar was equal to a Heller. The Heller was 1/100th of an Austrian Krone. By comparison it took 4 Krone to equal one Denar in what would become Yugoslavia. Today it would take 2,136 Vinar to equal a US dollar. Imagine that. I have adjusted for inflation over the period of 1920 to 2016. It takes about 23 dollars today to make a dollar in 1920. So, in the day you needed close to 50,000 Vinar to make a 1920 dollar.
Jumping back to the last decade of the 1600s and the year 1700, those little German States Pfennig coins would be about like walking around with 7.2261431 US cents in your pocket or around 14 to a dollar in today's money.
In short lived North Ingria in what is now the Republic of Karelia, the Finnish government helped the tiny Republic of about 400 people by printing stamps in denominations from 5 Pennia to 10 Markka. In you fast forward the value of the Markka to 2016, those 1 Markka stamps would be 37.8 US cents, well below the price of a first class mail stamp today.
What might be even more alarming is the value of the German Notgeld issued in 1920. If you take a look at inflation, that was really yet to get going. The 1920 releases were more about a coin shortage and less so by 1921. A 10 Pfennig Note would be around 1.27826 US cents.
Remember these values are based on this: the coin buys what amount in goods, products and services based on today's prices. In other words, if you went shopping today, this is what it would buy and likewise, based on buying power, this is what it would buy when it was minted. Thus, it is inflation adjusted based on cost of food, products and services.
As an interesting couple of side notes: the smallest weight silver coin that circulated is the Dam weighing in at .71 grain of silver.
We know Salt was used as a currency in many places but what was it's value? I finally found a comparison from a journal of a trade ship. Salt, boiled to evaporate some moisture so it could be fashioned as a paste into blocks and then cooled, was exchanged at 120 salt cake bars per 1 UK Pound Sterling. At the same time, 480 Salt Cake Bars was equal to an ounce of gold. I admit I have not figured out the point when a British Pound was actually valued at 1/4 ounce of gold. Maybe I'll tackle that tomorrow.
The result of this commentary is to demonstrate just how a coin I issue has an authenticity based on historical coins and then adjusted to real world values in today's world. In essence, what it would buy today is what it would buy when the historic coin was minted. While my coins are valued by today's values, they compare to these values. It really helps me in writing the brochure about the place the coin represents..
March 19, 2016
I just opened a package of leather scraps I purchased. My thinking was some leather banknotes. I should clarify that this includes goatskin as well. I always found 'money' made of unusual materials interesting.
Even more interesting is what money was backed by. There was one island I would have to spend time going through notes to name, that valued their money not in gold or strong foreign currency but rather in water, the most plentiful commodity the island had. It was more as if they stumbled across this in prior centuries when ships would come to the island to trade for fresh foods and water. Water was more important to them than anything else.
I have some quite rare German Notgeld notes from a town that valued their money in timber. Notes were not valued in Marks but in a fraction of a common unit of board feet of lumber. It seems wood was the wealth of the town, so they fared quite well, considering, putting their trust in this natural resource.
There is another very good reason for money to be valued in something other than the traditional gold and/or other currencies. In fact, it might even be a good idea to use common metal, if metal at all. Some wise rulers opted for non-traditional materials for money or valued it in commodities. Why? It helps keep the bad side of the society under control as they would use any monies recognized as such by traders to buy what they need to, well, do bad stuff. Trading something like wood or water for a gun in a place filled with timber or plentiful water is not a trade a merchant makes but a few silver coins or piece of gold and you might get that gun.
This might sound strange to those of us who live by a fiat currency but in reality, commodities weigh heavily in the value of that fiat currency. Saudi Arabia, for example, attributes much of it's monetary wealth to oil.
In fact that brings up an interesting historical perspective. The U.A.E. is made up of several rulers that have states, if you will, and operate a nation. Before oil was a factor, these folks were poor, not dirt poor, try sand poor. The people tried to survive off limited resources but sometimes were forced to do some pirating in order to survive. Pearl diving was a prized occupation then. Now, not so much. In a matter of decades they went from nothing to riches thanks to oil. Dubai is a strong financial center today. It wasn't silver and gold that made it happen but a commodity, oil.
Thus, in the scheme of things, it might be a good idea to trade for what is plentiful. I'm quite familiar with Edwards County, Texas and Rocksprings, the one true town in the county where the population is not quite a person per square mile. The county is the top mohair producing place on earth. The land isn't good for much else except hunting. You might not get much for a bundle of mohair on the streets of Rocksprings but to the rest of the world it might fetch a pretty penny. If Edwards County was a nation, they could achieve a good deal of wealth with money valued in mohair.
I haven't written much here for good reason. Back in November plans were underway to get a radio station going, one with my name in the President's position. Just before the proposed launch my fellow board members backed out. That left me hustling, trying to find new board members and determining if the logistics would work with the new scenario. To pour salt in the wound, the station I manage lost its client and is still trying to replace them with a new one. My owners are perplexed on the next direction. I would be too. So, as it stands at the moment, that new radio station and the station I manage are in a state of flux. Needless to say, that has taken a front seat to something I enjoy, making coins and banknotes. So in summary, Blue Waters Mint is alive and well. It is other obligations that are consuming my time as I hunt for solutions.