Currency was invented by the Clanfolk, of course.
One could argue that the first form of currency was the marriage mark. But one probably shouldn’t. Not unless one wants a lecture on Clanfolk economic philosophy.
So instead of arguing, let’s say that currency was inspired by the idea of the marriage mark.
At about the time that Clan Smith changed their name to Clan Ironmonger, they developed an iron mark. The iron mark allowed Clan Ironmonger to purchase something from another clan in exchange for a certain amount of iron, to be delivered later. Each iron mark represented an amount of iron 100 times its weight.
The iron mark was a token worth a certain amount of iron. But Clan Ironmonger didn’t want to give away raw iron. They wanted to give away finished goods. So any cousin was empowered to cancel the clan’s debt by handing over crafted pieces in exchange for an iron mark.
The crafted pieces, of course, contained much less iron than the promised amount. The person returning the coin was accepting the crafting as partial payment.
The smith could, in theory, return the mark to the clan house and claim that amount of iron from the clan’s mines. In practice, it was simpler to trade it for something of equal value.
Before long, merchants of other clans were trading the iron marks within their clans as well. Eventually, the state had to step in and take control of the minting of currency.
In The Dragonslayer of Edgewhen, Danwel packs around a pouch full of brinnacs. These are coins minted by the city of Brin.
One reason Danwel has brinnacs is, of course, that he will need to pay for things in Brin because he can’t rely on the hospitality of cousins. But the other reason is that Brin is such a dominant city by 1002 that other city-states, like Dwen-Tarthil, have adopted the brinnac as their state currency.
Iron and Gold
Most currency on Edgewhen has some iron component. Because no one can resonate with iron, such coins cannot be magically counterfeited.
Iron can be magically created, however. If the value of the coin rests in the authority of the state, this is not a problem. If the value of the coin is supposed to rest in the value of its metal, then the coin should contain gold, which cannot be created.
Many coins on Edgewhen contain some amalgamation of the two metals.
Currency Among the Children of Knowledge
The Children of Knowledge are unusual in that their currency is based on time. Currency is issued by the Academy, and each coin represents a certain amount of study. For example, the thozi would allow a student to study at the Academy for one day.
Of course, the Academy does not allow students to enroll for a single day. The traditional nine-year course of study costs thousands of thozis, most of which are paid for by student labor.