The entire Throne is backed by currency of 3 precious metals: gold, silver and copper. Currency is a measure of both material and social wealth, and a carefully designed system restricts the use of some kinds of currency from some kinds of people. Each rung of society is given a means of currency which serves to make sure they have what they need, and also to ensure that they do not have what they do not need. This is a deliberate construction, chiefly championed by the Church, to try to slow down or eliminate social climbing. Peasants often lack the means or need to spend anything larger than copper anyhow, but these measures are chiefly aimed at the burgeoning urban Merchant Class whose existence does not fit neatly into the hierarchy that the Holy Fathers have designed for the Throne - their growing social and political power begins to become a factor in the decisions of the Nobility, which undermines the idea of an authority derived from training, power, and divine selection. The class system is important to the Throne's identity and culture, and the Church will do whatever it takes to prevent its erosion.
The price for a given good or service is typically listed in the coinage that the Merchant offering it wants to receive - usually silver, but perhaps copper based on the type of business and its clientele. The good must be paid for in this currency. While there is a rough conversion rate between the three metals, it is forbidden by law to change money upward. That is, no one may see a money changer and offer 10 coppers in exchange for a silver, though they may offer a silver and expect 10 copper shields. If, for example, a peasant man were to attempt to purchase a sword from an armorer and offer the merchant the amount of silver the man would ordinarily charge, he would most likely refuse the purchase, assuming that the coinage were stolen or at least come upon by illegal means. A Merchant who knowingly accepts Crowns or Lions from a Peasant is always in violation of their Guild's bylaws, which are required to include the local legal practices for commerce, and anyone he does not know is always assumed to be of the lower class. Merchants and Nobles arrange their transactions by legal contract, so the difference is fairly obvious.
Copper is the most common kind of currency and is used by the most common kinds of people - those of the rural and urban lower classes, the peasants of the field and the scum of the gutters. Copper is used for everyday transactions such as buying lunch, replacing missing fasteners, and quickly consumed items like candles, oil, or arrows. Copper coins are referred to as Shields, as they are stamped with the crest of Imperial House Herkheist. A copper coin is about a day's wage for a serf, and is enough to purchase a hot meal and a beer, a small bundle of arrows, a tallow candle, or some other basic consumed commodity. Common quality commodities such as Soft Iron ore, a box of Vegetables, Softwood logs, Scrap Leather, and Hemp for textiles usually cost on the scale of two to three coppers per measure. 10 copper is about the measure of a single silver.
Copper coin in small amounts can be legally used for small transactions without regulation from Trade Guilds. See the Trade Guild page for more information.
Silver is a means of goods transfer and is used for more important transactions. Silver is used for larger and less frequent transfers, such as durable tools, room and board for a party of people at an inn, or skilled labor such as a professional bodyguard, the services of a contract negotiator, or the construction of military equipment and weaponry. Silver coins are referred to as Crowns, and have a likeness of the crown worn by the Emperor. Silver pieces are the usual medium from Merchant to Merchant or Merchant to Noble transactions. If a Knight wishes to arm his peasants to form a militia, he will purchase the weaponry in bulk from a Merchant for later delivery. If the same swordsmith needs to purchase wooden hilts from a local woodworker, he will pay for his order in silver, and charge silver to the Knight to fulfill the order. Higher quality goods, those suitable to make products produced by skilled tradesmen, generally are sold in orders paid for in silver. These include Hard Iron ore for blades or armor, Hardwood lumber, sides of Meat often prepared for travel to military supply lines, and Wool made for high quality and durable outfits. 20 silver is about the measure of a single gold.
Gold is the currency of the mighty, and is usually for things that ordinary people would never even think to buy, such as jewelry, gemstones, mercenary wages, or on some occasions, extremely large orders to Merchants. This last is the subject of much debate, but as the Throne grows and prospers and travel becomes easier, larger and larger operations begin to take place, and some of them involve contracting with people across a sea in another country, making gold far more easy to transport long distance simply on weight alone. Gold coming into the hands of Merchants is supposed to be converted to silver at earliest convenience, but there are plenty of excuses why doing so might not be convenient. Gold coins are referred to as Lions, and they have the golden lion that is the symbol of the Holy Church. If commodities are traded in gold, they are only the most rare of materials such as Dwarven-made ashsteel, Elven starmetal, dragonscales, or other special goods.
Other Forms of Money
1 "Penny" - One copper split in half with a knife, or by teeth. Enough to purchase small goods, like a single drink, or a spool of twine.
1 "Hay-Penny" - One quarter of a copper, or a 'half-penny'. Used to purchase something small, like a candle.
Bursar's Note - The Church runs a bursary for travelers and wealthy individuals. If an individual surrenders a given amount to the Church, the church will give them an encrypted note for that value that can be redeemed at any other Church who will surrender a like amount of goods if they are available.
Guild Note - Individual Artisan Guilds give out paper certificates that can be claimed for a certain amount of goods, regardless of their actual monetary value. A Guild Note from the guild of Carpenters may entitle the bearer to "One Large Cabinet with Crowned Edges". Guild notes sometimes also serve as means of transfer themselves, especially in secondary markets that some Merchants use for speculation, buying things like apple futures. In these cases, a specific amount of coin or goods are surrendered now, in exchange for a Guild Note stating the specific exchange, and the transaction is finished. A Merchant who spends 10 silver now for 20 crates of apples next year may turn a tremendous profit when he returns that note during a drought and can resell those apples for twice that or more.
Barter - Trading goods for goods is still widely accepted in the Throne, even after hundreds of years using coin. Some traders, especially outside of populous towns, even find coins to be too inconvenient and easily stolen to use in trade, and will often request that the character trades in more substantial terms.
Jewels - Large sums are often converted to gems for ease of travel and storage. They are often set into a precious metal and worn as jewelry as a way to display one's wealth while it is frozen in this form.