Caste of Coin Merchants
Here are relevant references from the Books where the Caste of Coin Merchants is mentioned.
While not specifically titled a Caste, this group is mentioned along with others that are.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
A silver tarsk is, to most Goreans, a coin of considerable value. In most exchanges it is valued at a hundred copper tarsks, each of which valued, commonly, at some ten to twenty tarsk bits. Ten silver tarsks, usually, is regarded as the equivalent of one gold piece, of one of the high cities. To be sure, there is little standardization in these matters, for much depends on the actual weights of the coins and the quantities of precious metals, certified by the municipal stamps, contained in the coins. Sometimes, too, coins are split or shaved. Further, the debasing of coinage is not unknown. Scales, and rumors, it seems, are often used by coin merchants.
Coin merchants often have recourse to scales. This is sensible considering such things as the occasional debasings of coinages, usually unannounced by the communities in question, and the frequent practice of splitting and shaving coins.
Every year at the Sardar Fair there is a motion before the bankers, literally, the coin merchants, to introduce a standardization of coinage among the major cities. To date, however, this has not been accomplished. I did not feel it was really fair of Boots to call attention to my possible lack of expertise in these matters. I was not, after all, of the merchants, nor, among them, of the coin merchants.
I said. 'I do not have family in Brundisium, but I have great wealth, placed with coin merchants!' 'Name them,' he said. I was again silent, frantic.
Whereas all natural societies are characterized by rank, distance, and hierarchy, acknowledged or not, I think there is no Gorean caste, from the highest to the lowest, which does not regard itself as the equal or superior, in one way or another, to that of every other. Where would society be without the Builders, the Merchants, the Metal Workers, the Cloth Workers, the Wood Workers, the Leather Workers, the Peasant, with the great bow, the ox on whom the Home Stone rests?
Some masters, too, of course, will take their slave to one of the Cloth Workers, and have one or more tunics altered to, or even made for, the particular slave.
"Some attribute the very downfall of the Claudian coin house in Ar, that of the Marcelliani, to the Lady Julia Leta, her thieveries and flight supposedly undermining confidence in the house," said the voice. "This charge is scarcely credible but it is taken seriously in some quarters. It became clear, in Brundisium, that some, presumably failed coin merchants and defrauded patrons, presumably through one or more agents, were seeking the former Lady Julia Leta, now the slave, Luta, to return her to Ar's Street of Coins, one supposes for use in restoring the name of the Claudian house and serving more generally as an example of what might be done with thieves, her punishment serving as a warning to any who might be tempted to abuse a house's trust."
"Should her identity be discovered," said the voice, "that she was the former Lady Julia Leta, might that not prove embarrassing to her master?"
"Particularly," I said, "were her master of the Merchants, and most particularly if he should be a Merchant of Coins."
"Dear Zia," she said, "tell no one that I am discovered, that I was once the Lady Julia Leta. Coin Masters are intolerant of embezzlement. They are not easily satisfied. They understand little, and conjecture much. You do not know them. They can be cruelly vengeful. What do they understand of the feelings, hopes, needs, and desires of a lowly agent, an obscure, neglected, unimportant hireling, one afflicted with want, one impoverished, one deprived, one lonely and miserable, one laboring in the midst of gold she cannot touch, one encircled by the wealth of others, wealth she is forbidden to grasp? Ela, I weakened. Who might not? I surrendered to temptation. I erred. I am contrite. Blame me not. Understand me. Be merciful, protect me, keep my secret, I beg it of you."
The Gorean Streets of Coins are sometimes streets, rather literally, but more often a district or area, rather, as one might say, a financial district. In any event, most Gorean banking takes place on the Streets of Coins, loaning money, changing money, borrowing money, investing money, depositing money or goods for safekeeping, buying insurance, and so on.
"This is quite irregular," said the coin merchant. "As I understand it, in Brundisium, a sympathetic benefactor, with whom you did not even share a Home Stone, and whose name you do not even know, gave you, clear of all obligation, twelve golden staters, by means of which you were enabled to free yourself of certain gambling debts, a fate surely preferable to being sentenced to the galleys as a defaulting debtor."
"Yes," I said.
"A rare stroke of good fortune."
"Yes," I said.
"He must have been very rich," said the merchant.
"Undoubtedly," I said.
"And now you wish to repay him?"
"Certainly," I said.
"Why?" asked the merchant.
"What?" I asked.
"If the gift were truly free and bestowed without entailments," said the merchant, "you are under no obligation to repay him."
"I understand," I said, "but I would like to do so."
"He was generous, and you are grateful," he said.
"Yes," I said.
"Interesting," said the merchant.
"I have reason to believe he is of Jad, or somewhere in Jad," I said. "I have contacted several coin establishments, but have been unable to find him. I am sure he is rich and would have dealings on a Street of Coins. I regret I do not know his name, but it should be easy to locate him, given his wealth, and that he is missing a leg, the left leg, from somewhat above the knee."
"We have no clients who answer to that description," said the merchant. "But we would be happy to hold your money on deposit, at a current rate of interest, you having been issued a receipt, of course."
"I thank you," I said, "but I think I shall look further."
"I do not place your accent," said the merchant.
"Doubtless that is frequently the case in a metropolis as large and busy as Jad," I said.
"Other than locating an elusive benefactor," said the merchant, "what is your business in Jad?"
"It is legitimate, I assure you," I said, "but, at the moment, confidential."
"What is your name?" asked the merchant.
"I think that, too, should remain confidential, at least at present, lest my mission, sensitive and subtle, be jeopardized."
"I understand," said the merchant. "There are many such plans best left temporarily undisclosed, not only in the affairs of state but in the high merchantry. A moment of silence is often more valuable than an Ahn of speech."
"How true," I said. "How true."
"I think you carry steel within your cloak," he said.
"It may prove useful in the prosecution of my business," I said.
"From your eyes and hands, your carriage, I feared so," he said.
"My business does not concern you," I said.
"Perhaps you are of the Black Caste?" he said.
"No," I said.
"Of the Scarlet Caste?" he said.
"Think of me as an agent," I said, "intent upon a particular transaction."
"May I inquire, at least," asked the merchant, "your lodging in Jad?"
"I wish you well," I said.
"Hail, Lurius, Glorious Ubar of Cos," said the merchant.
"Hail, Lurius, Glorious Ubar of Cos," I said, and took my leave.