Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Use genuine old currency in reenactment

Increase the authenticity of historical reenactment and living history
  [vote for,

Prices of items in days of yore are generally not comparable to today's, with the likes of bricks, shoes, sheep and handkerchiefs being of similar cost. One reason they are of similar cost is the amount of work put into producing them. In a living history or other reenactment situation today, a comparable amount of work is presumably done compared to times past.
At the same time, coinage of the same denomination to more recent coinage is sometimes available, or if not available can sometimes be produced owing to the fact that counterfeiting was less of a problem in the olden days. Genuine old coinage is practically always more valuable than it was at the time. The question is, has it gone up in accordance with inflation? If not, new old coinage can be struck.
My suggestion is this: on attending a reenactment or living history venue of some kind, participants in the event cash in their modern money at the "door" for money appropriate to the time, of comparable value, buying it at the current market rate. They then use this old money for all transactions at the event, and the businesses supplying the materials and the like also get paid in this old money. They can change it back for real money once they return to the real economy. That way, as well as appreciating the quaint customs, the participants also get to appreciate that they would mainly have been in grinding poverty at the time and understand the true value of these things.
Particularly applicable to the likes of Arkwright's Mill, with its private currency.
nineteenthly, Jul 30 2009

Blist's Hill http://www.ironbrid...ill_victorian_town/
Well worth a visit for all fans of steam engines .... [8th of 7, Jul 30 2009]

(?) Canadian Tire Money http://corp.canadia...s/CanTireMoney.aspx
Sandy McTire is nearly 50 yrs old [Gamma48, Aug 02 2009]


       I showed this idea to a colleague who does medieval re-enactment. Comments were as follows...

"I do like the idea, however I can imagine that I would spend my whole time trying to work out the "modern" price in my head before making a purchase. Rather costly to do as well, we have a group coin mint, it cost £400. We tend to take around 30 seconds to make each coin. So in an hour, non stop that would only make 120 half groats. Might take a while!"

I'll give you a croissant based on that.
DrBob, Jul 30 2009

       Thanks. It would be costly, which is the point.
nineteenthly, Jul 30 2009

       Sorry, nineteenthly, I was editing my anno whilst you were posting yours!
DrBob, Jul 30 2009

       I've come across three different mechanisms for calculating historical currency equivalence; bullion value (the gold standard), buying power (the bread standard) and effort-to-earn (the unskilled daily wage standard). They tend to give widely different results. What sort of 'equivalence' did you have in mind?
pertinax, Jul 30 2009

       I think the equivalence might be determined in practical terms. I'm talking about two different sets of coinage here, one struck by the reenacters themselves, the other consisting of real coins from the period in question. These would have different values. It can be determined how much things cost from various sources, such as records for banquets and the fact that the death penalty used to be applied to all thefts of a value over a shilling. Also, a combination of standard rates for particular types of labour and the simple fact of how long it takes someone to do something, like embroider, make a horseshoe, whatever, i'd expect it to work out about right. If it doesn't, it's interesting in itself and for all i know might provide useful data for historians.
For example, as a herbalist i know my going rate would have been six shillings and eight pence in the late Middle Ages, and a guinea in the eighteenth century. I would assume other people know the same, if they have a traditional trade or profession such as vicar or blacksmith.
nineteenthly, Jul 30 2009

       Yes, but a herbalist, or a vicar, or a blacksmith of the middle ages probably had very different responsibilities to those of people with the same professional titles today, so that's not necessarily an ideal metric either.   

       Industrialisation, global trade and colonialism totally rewrote the book in terms of effort/labour/reward - whichever method you use for conversion into recognisable values today, whether you use Nominal (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor etc), Commodity (bread, gold, goats) or Effort - there's always going to be something that doesn't make any sense. Perhaps there's some way to amalgamate all different pricing methods to come up with an average, this will however not take into consideration the effects of recent weather patterns, local wars, skirmishes and other barriers to trade, as well as special events such as Cortez discovering a whole bunch'o'gold and shipping it back wholesale, or temporally limited, even local supply/demand bubbles, plague and other whatnot that's more-or-less tricky to express in formulae.
zen_tom, Jul 30 2009

       This is Baked at the Blist's Hill Museum, Ironbridge.
8th of 7, Jul 30 2009

       The relative prices of particular commodities today is vastly different than earlier, for instance spices. I can see that that's a problem. I'm also aware of the loss of silver from Europe to China and the influx of gold from the New World. What all that might mean is that a clear distinction would emerge between those parts of the economy which were entirely local and those which depended more on imports or were part of the gift economy. Another issue is the extent of feudalism.
I went to Ironbridge a couple of years ago. I wonder if i've just subconsciously unearthed that museum. I was thinking Arkwright, but it's not done there.
nineteenthly, Jul 30 2009

       Salt, anyone?. This would ned to be fixed at the time and locality if it were to work at all. Not a bad idea, though.
gnomethang, Jul 30 2009

       I think you will find that it is illegal to actually use withdrawn currency.
vincevincevince, Aug 01 2009

       But it has a value. We've been here before, but you could exchange, say, a guinea for a piece of handcrafted furniture. Also, some of the money isn't withdrawn as such so much as tokens. It's like Canadian Tire money or monopoly money.
nineteenthly, Aug 01 2009

       [vince] x's 3...long time no see see see
blissmiss, Aug 01 2009

       //illegal to actually use withdrawn currency//   

       AFAIK they are not legal tender, but legal tender only means a creditor must accept it as payment for a debt. But a creditor can accept other forms of payment, as can a shopkeeper.
Bad Jim, Aug 02 2009

       I think that in England you can take notes of any age back to the Bank of England to exchange for equal value, which would be pointless here because notes are not durable and it would render the exchanges virtually worthless.
The past is a foreign country - Zimbabwe.
nineteenthly, Aug 02 2009

       Withdrawn money isn't legal tender, however as [nineteenthly] pointed out the usage parameters are in line with casino tokens, not currency.   

       I wonder if counterfeit withdrawn currency designs are legal to produce.
FlyingToaster, Aug 02 2009

       The further back you go, the easier it would be.
nineteenthly, Aug 02 2009

       //I wonder if counterfeit withdrawn currency designs are legal to produce//   

       Well, England has a thing called Crown Copyright, which prevents you reproducing most of the stuff seen on coins.
Bad Jim, Aug 02 2009

       That's only actually printed on the newer banknotes, though it probably already applied beforehand.
nineteenthly, Aug 02 2009

       //the participants also get to appreciate that they would mainly have been in grinding poverty at the time and understand the true value of these things.//   

       bun just for that [+]
ixnaum, Aug 03 2009

       To get around legal issues, "Not Legal Tender" could be included on the replica coins.   

       Real old coins are somewhat hard to come by even at inflation adjusted values, I think.   

       + if you make them of silver or gold, though.
Zimmy, Aug 03 2009

       Maybe "not legal tender" in Latin, abbreviated like "FID DEF" and the like, which gives me pause for thought because i have no idea what the Latin for that would be. And yes, i was thinking of silver or gold provided it's historically accurate. Roman coins could then also be used as units of weight.
nineteenthly, Aug 03 2009

       The US Dollar's definition is apparently a weight. It's not easy to find that info, though. I read something about a person calling the IRS to ask for a definition & they were told it was 100 cents. (the definition of one cent is 1/100 of a dollar). I think it's 412.5 grains of 90% silver in the original definition.
Zimmy, Aug 03 2009

       It'd be a sneaky way to get back onto the gold standard.
nineteenthly, Aug 03 2009


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