Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

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Elleth
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Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Elleth » Sun Dec 22, 2019 8:04 pm

So this is a project that's been a really long time coming.

And now it's done!

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Since the very first time I was curled up in the grade school library reading about poor Butterbur and his dear twelve silver pennies, I wanted a little "pony purse" of my own. For long years I forgot about that... until I got back into this hobby.

My father was a hobby numismatist, my mother into living history... I suppose it only natural I'd eventually get around to wondering how to make a coins in old Butterbur's purse.

From the beginning, I thought it fairly obvious from the text that the "silver pennies" that passed from hand to hand in Bree stood in for those common throughout Northwest Europe in the late Saxon era (and well on after that into the High Middle Ages). A bit more research led me to the thoughts I went over back in August of 2016 Hunting the Castar.

Then what?

The hardest part was researching the text. I thought it likely the Breelands had little use for elf-speech, even in so formal a context as coinage. Thus I went down the rabbit hole of Westron and its ancestor Adunic. I quickly came to the limit of what published material there was - but there was just enough to work out most of the text with some reasonable confidence. I think I'm at least close enough that I can chalk up any errors to the shaky literacy of some hypothetical coinwright.

The reverse was easiest, for there I thought the silversmith tasked with hammering out new coin every so often by the town fathers would leave his own mark. "Cotman of Apple End" seemed a suitable name for such a man, and so that's the reverse: "Hlothram an razarnag"

The obverse started out fairly easy. I figured coins of Eriador in the late Third Age trafficked by weight rather than a sovereign's fiat, and so simply marked them as "pennyweight" - "tharnibrodan."

That left the name, and this was hardest - neither "Bree" nor "Combe" are truly the names of those settlements. Rather, they're Brthyonic "translations" of the toponyms "hill" and "valley" respectively.

... but exactly one word of Dunlendish is attested - "forgoil" for "straw-headed."

That would be no help.

I finally settled on "tûn" as not too different from Quenyan "Túna/Tún" - and so I could at least hand-wave a possible link. More, the word had a nice Gaelic mouth-feel, which I thought fitting. I'm sure it's not the word the Professor himself would have chosen, but it's as close as I could come with what I could find. Perhaps one day more of his notes will be released from the archives, someone will find the right word in some marginalia, and make a new more correct version. In the meantime, I'm happy enough with what I've made here.

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By this time I'd found a diemaker, but would have to deliver what I was looking for as a digital file. Rather than just render out a print font, I created digital tengwar "stamps" in hopes that the final work would look more hand-made:

Finally came the images. The Breelands are an idyllic pastoral land, with no need for kings and princes. Even the face of a hypothetical town selectman didn't seem quite right for a coin likely undated and infrequently issued. I decided on the age-old standby of a symbol of plenty: a sheaf of wheat-corn, stored food against the coming winter.

The reverse was easier: Old Cotman of Apple End would surely mark his work with the sign of his namesake - a trio of apples.

I tried again to make the designs as "hand-friendly" as I could manage with digital tools, hoped for the best, and send my files off the diemaker.

Many weeks later, a minting machine from mintmaster.cz shows up, along with my die.

Pavel provided a number of blanks, but I've since settled on sterling discs of a size to about match the silver sixpence made by Shire Post Mint, the better to replicate the mix of similarly-sized coins that would be floating around Eriador in our period. I stamp them out, give them a good dunking in tarnishing solution, then re-polish them back to a ruddy grey. The gunk gets stuck down in the crevices while the surface gets a little muddy and worn - makes 'em look like they've been changing hands along the Great East Road for fifty years! :mrgreen:

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... and that is the story of this particular journey.

Finally: I'm sorry, but I can't sell them.
Our very own Wil Whitfoot has paid dearly for the license to produce coins of Middle-earth, and I can't in good conscience infringe on a right he's paid (I assume dearly) for. That said, I'm sure these trinkets will find their way into the occasional Yule gift and the like. ;)
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Darnokthemage
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Darnokthemage » Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:02 pm

These are absolutely wonderful! It got me thinking, would the coins of bree be of local make, or would they have been made by Dwarves from the blue Mountain? My wagor is on the later, perhaps the Dwarves of Belegost (Yes, Belegost appears on one of the earliest of Tolkien draft maps as a settlement in the southern Ered Luins, where Thorins kingdom was.) would travel around with mits or hammers to make them for rich traders or shire-folk.
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Elleth » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:05 am

Given that coinage in our world has always been quite closely tied to sovereignty, I still think it quite likely the pennies themselves were minted in the Breelands. Certainly Barliman's concern at the end of RotK concerning waves of newcomers absolutely indicates the Breelanders thought of themselves as a people.

The silver those coins were minted from however - that I can quite easily see coming largely from Dwarvish mines. That, perhaps the odd found relic, and almost certainly old silver vessels brought in whenever a local found himself needing coin.

edit - to clarify, I don't think the only coins one would find in the Breelands would be of local make. Per the earlier thread:

I suspect the average traveler in the Bree-lands would have a jumble of coins in his purse. Pre Erebor, I'd expect the mix to be mostly local manufacture, Michel Delving made Hobbity coins, and a fair amount of older Gondorian pieces that filtered up through sporadic trade.

Post Erebor, I'd bet a fair amount of both Dwarven and Dalish coins enter the mix - all valued by weight rather than custom.
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Udwin » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:43 am

Ahhh, these are Incredible! It's been a long road, but I think you've really hit on something that looks and feels like authentic M-e currency, with research and logical extrapolation to back them up. Well done!!!
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Iodo » Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:57 am

these are awesome :P I love your thoughts about the coin maker putting his own mark on the coin, it gives it so much more of a story

I started trying to work out how to make coin a year ago, I guess you beat me to it :mrgreen:
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Greg » Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:51 am

You did an absolutely fantastic job.
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Shadrack
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Shadrack » Tue Dec 24, 2019 6:08 am

These are spectacular! They look like they could’ve been unearthed in an archaeological dig! I love the subdued patina you gave them, as well as the hand hammered construction. They feel very real
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TaylorSteiner
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby TaylorSteiner » Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:06 pm

Wow just great! Love those!
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Manveruon » Mon Dec 30, 2019 1:53 am

MY GOD! I AM DUMBSTRUCK! Those are absolutely incredible! I would kill to get my hands on a few of them somehow, but I totally understand and respect your unwillingness to sell them. Makes perfect sense. Perhaps one of these days we could work out a trade of some sort; otherwise I will just have to hope you draw my name next Yuletide, haha.
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Greg
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Greg » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:01 pm

Manveruon wrote:I AM DUMBSTRUCK!


Dumb ... struck? STRUCK?!?!


Anyone?


...anyone..?
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TaylorSteiner
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby TaylorSteiner » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:03 pm

Lol nice
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Elleth » Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:30 am

HA!

Thanks guys. :)
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Manveruon » Wed Jan 01, 2020 8:48 pm

Greg wrote:
Manveruon wrote:I AM DUMBSTRUCK!


Dumb ... struck? STRUCK?!?!


Anyone?


...anyone..?



Glad someone caught it :lol:
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby SierraStrider » Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:36 am

This is astonishing. Well done.
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Re: Twelve Silver Pennies: coins of the Breelands

Postby Elemmakil » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:12 am

Elleth wrote:
Finally: I'm sorry, but I can't sell them.
Our very own Wil Whitfoot has paid dearly for the license to produce coins of Middle-earth, and I can't in good conscience infringe on a right he's paid (I assume dearly) for. That said, I'm sure these trinkets will find their way into the occasional Yule gift and the like. ;)


Have you considered approaching Mayor Whitfoot and offering to be a supplier and mint these pennies for him for sale through Shire Post Mint? I have probably one of the biggest collections of Middle Earth coins outside of Shire Post and it will bug me to no end that I can't get one of THESE exquisitely thought out and executed coins... :evil:

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