value of gold vs. silver?

My saga is set in Iberia, where (to my understanding) there is a bit more prevalence of gold due to the influx from N. Africa.

Anyone have a general rule of the value of 1 pound of gold, in silver?

Are there gold coins in Iberia, or just the standard silver? I would think that Byzantine gold coins might make their way here via trade in the mediteranean, especially the Muslim southern routes.

Any thoughts are welcome, including websites. I did a little reading today, but couldn't find the specifics I was looking for.

(and if this info is in City and Guild, I apologize. Haven't read that one yet.)

In a barter society, a lot depends on perception, on supply, on demand, and possibly on artificial factors like decrees/etc, as well as perceived social stability like imminent wars or questionable governments. I doubt if there were any real standards, except at specific locations and moments in history- that is, the average market exchange rate in 1220 in Madrid would not be the same in Barcelona, or in 1221. Good merchants would haggle that number (whatever it is) in their favour, or not.

Over history and geography it has fluxuated all over the place - it would be hard to put a simple mathematical ratio on it without a pile of qualifications.

As a semi-educated semi-blind guess (with the aforementioned pile of qualifiers), 40:1?

1 pound of gold =~ 10 pounds of silver. Sometimes 9 pounds.
Silver was more valuable in the middle-ages.

OK, so this says that a nice suit for a man has been about the value of an oz of silver for a long time. I have seen other sources that say a reasonable price in silver for a nice man's suit would be about a pound of silver (doing to heavy extrapolating from ... rices.html), so that makes the comparison about 12 (or 16) to 1. But it looks like it bounces all over the place all the time, so it could be anywhere from 2-1 to 50-1. I think because gold was and still is thought of as a commodity, not a currency, the price varies. heck gold right now is at about $600 per oz and silver is at $13, that's 46-1. Although I do not know if they use troy oz for silver as well as gold.
[EDIT] So i think if you just want to peg it for game purposes, 20 - 1 would be reasonable. So would 40 - 1. Depending on the story, what would be more fun to play?[EDIT]

It was, by law, 15:1 for a long time in Europe, but that's still modern. The point that gold is "more valuable" now may be valid- it's certainly skyrocketed in the last few decades.

10:1 reminds me too much of convenient ratios for other RPG's, but might not be too far off. Maybe 16:1, 1 lb silver = 1 oz gold? 20:1 might be easier for the truly math-challenged, or for late night beer-sodden gaming sessions.

(For our Euro cousins, 16 ounces*/1 pound, abbreviated 16 oz = 1 lb. Not my fault, I just live here.) 8)

[i](* For those who care, to further complicate things, there are, today, several types of ounces, both dry and liquid, and then different weights as well. Troy ounces, avoirdupois ounces, standard ounces- oy.

For the masochistic, here:
Conversion charts here:[/i]

In Covenants (check the prices sidebar/page) 10 Mythic Pounds of silver will buy you 1 pound of gold. Stuck in my head becuase of my experience with certain other RPGs.

But don't let that stop anyone from bringing in thier Bargain ability. You might be able to get a pound of gold for only 7 pounds of silver in the right circumstances.


I certainly think that setting it at 10 and then allowing bargain to affect the actual price is cool.

Keep in mind the rough 10:1 ratio I mentioned above shows only the values of silver and gold.
Coins are another issue because the coin size and the ratio of precious metal in the alloy will determine their value. Silver coins were usually lighter and contained less precious metal than gold ones.

Florence started issue gold coins (florins) in 1252. They were the first in western Europe. I suppose Roman (Byz) gold coins (solidus) were also in use.
Florins were 3,5 gramms (sorry US guys :smiley:) but the soliduses were 4,5.

Many medieval people never got hold on gold or silver. Let alone they paid with it. So actually the value of gold in slver doesn't matter so much, unless you have a gold-mine.

Hmm, I suppose that should have been obvious to me.

So, Farmer Joseph goes to town to (a) buy a new plowshare and (b) have an ale. What does he pay and what with?


Well, literally or figuratively.

But yes, it's important to realize that if a silver penny can support a peasant family for weeks (or whatever), that's the equivalent of maybe a $500 bill today - it's just not going to be seen very often (except at tax time). And a gold coin, to a peasant, is something of legend.

If we're talking gold:silver exchanges, we're moving into the realm of nobles, taxes, large churches, international merchants, or some other "meta" establishment, not the local tavern or marketplace.


Is peasant society still largely barter? Is there a monetary unit that a peasant is likely to have (and what would that be)?

Having problems setting aside my own experiences, here.


They state it as still mostly being barter I believe.. though depending how rich the people are, pennies might be used etc..

I imagine most peasants deal in barter, and only merchants or higher tend to have actual cash as such

Hence the need for the Bargain skill. And "cash values" would allow the players to know what a decent bargain is or not so one is not paying only three chickens for a millstone.

Hmm. Definitely do-able.


Just to be completely clear here: the 10:1 ratio comes from actual prices in the gold for silver trade, and is recorded in Spufford's "Power and profit: the merchant in medieval Europe". Spufford's figures start in the later C13th and track to the late C15th. Gold varies in Egypt and Venice, in his C13th figures, between 1:9.2 and 1:11.8. Across the whole period, the maximum is 1:14.2, which is a stable sort of price for 25 years in the C14th, and the minimum is 1.7, which is for 2 years in 1422-4.

In the game period, the gold/silver price will be roughly 1:10, slightly less as ther game begins and slightly more as the new silver mines open in 1223.

Yes, although it is monetarising near large urban centres.

Yes, and it's called the "denarius", which is to say "penny" or "denier" or "pfennig", in a suprising number of places. Do not mistake it for the Arabic "dinar" however, which has been named after a penny, but is worth far more.

There's a tide in the coins of Europe. They spread out from the cities around harvest time, and then trickle back to the cities toward winter. In some rurla areas, they are basically used for big purchases: paying your rent for example, or paying travelling merchants. They aren't much used as a store of value, though, except by the rich.

Welcome back Timothy! How was / is the honeymoon?

(and thanks for the annotated response!!)

I'm just doing some internet banking before I head off on honeymoon in a few hours time.

See you in a week, guys.

Well, I wish you both a great honeymoon, enjoy it! :smiley: