A Westerosi coin.

704 Bronn bag of gold coins

A bag of Tyrell gold coins, plundered from Highgarden.

"They are only numbers. Numbers on paper; once you understand that... it's easy to make them behave."
Master of Coin Petyr Baelish[src]

Several different types of currency are used in the world's various economies.

The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros have a uniform system of coinage based on the "Gold Dragon" coin. The different cities and nations across the Narrow Sea in Essos have their own various local currencies.


The Seven Kingdoms

The coinage used in the Seven Kingdoms is based on the Gold Dragon coin, which has two common smaller denominations: Silver Stag coins and Copper Penny coins.

  • When he became Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark was shocked to learn from Master of Coin Petyr Baelish that the Iron Throne was an astonishing 6 million Gold Dragons in debt. Approximately half of this debt was to House Lannister, the wealthiest noble house in Westeros due to the many gold mines they control in the Westerlands. Renly Baratheon explains to Eddard that Robert doesn't put much thought into financial matters, saying that Robert dismissively refers to it as "counting Coppers".[1]
  • Robert Baratheon ordered a Tournament to celebrate the appointment of Ned Stark as Hand of the King. The prize money offered included 40,000 Gold Dragons to the winner of the joust; 20,000 to the runner-up of the joust, and 20,000 to the best archer. Ned Stark considered the total prize money of 80,000 Gold Dragons to be an extravagance the crown could not afford, but Robert ordered it anyway.[2]
  • During the tournament, Lord Baelish wagered Renly Baratheon 100 Gold Dragons that Ser Gregor Clegane would win against Ser Loras Tyrell in the joust. Baelish mused that 100 Gold Dragons could buy a dozen barrels of expensive Dornish wine, or a very high-end prostitute from the Pleasure houses of Lys.[3]
  • When Arya Stark is hiding out in King's Landing slum district of Flea Bottom after her father's arrest, she asks a local baker for a loaf of bread, and he says that it costs three Coppers.[4]
  • When Ros is stressing to the prostitute Daisy that Petyr Baelish's brothel in the capital city of King's Landing is a very high-end establishment, she says that "this isn't some five Copper bawdy house".[5]
  • When Littlefinger leaves for the Vale of Arryn and Tyrion Lannister is named the new Master of Coin, he jokes that Tyrion will do well if he just keeps a "low profile". Tyrion remarks that if he had a Gold Dragon for every time he'd heard such a joke about his Dwarfism, he'd be richer than Baelish, but Baelish points out that the Lannisters are indeed richer than he is.[6]
  • Later, Tyrion reads through the financial records Littlefinger left, and is disturbed to learn (as Eddard Stark previously did) that the crown is millions of Gold Dragons in debt. Littlefinger always publicly acted like a financial genius able to make money out of thin air, but he balanced the realm's books every year by borrowing vast sums of money. Bronn points out that much of this is owed to Tywin Lannister, yet now his own grandson King Joffrey Baratheon sits on the throne, though Tyrion chides that Tywin isn't the kind of man to forget a debt. Worse, however, Tyrion points out that they still owe millions of Gold Dragons to the Iron Bank of Braavos. He warns that if they cannot pay back their debts to the Iron Bank, first it will stop giving out loans to the Seven Kingdoms, and ultimately it will start supporting rebellions against them.[7]
  • Lord Selwyn Tarth offered a ransom of 300 Gold Dragons for the safe return of his daughter Brienne. This sum is considered a very formidable ransom for a nobleman, even one belonging to a major noble House.[8]
  • At King Joffrey's wedding feast, he hires a troupe of five dwarf actors to hold a mock recreation of the War of the Five Kings, with each dwarf dressed up in costumes of one of the five kings at the beginning of the war. Joffrey finds their mock combat hilarious, though almost everyone else in the audience finds it in very poor taste or outright insulting. Joffrey's uncle Tyrion, himself a dwarf, is particularly insulted, but pulls aside his squire Podrick Payne and tells him to pay the dwarfs 20 Gold Dragons each afterwards, to make up for what he perceives as their public humiliation.[9]
  • Tywin asks Varys how large of a bounty they have to put on the head of Sandor Clegane in order to make common soldiers stupid enough to dare attack the formidable warrior. Varys suggests 10 Silver Stags, and Tywin responds to make it 100 Silver Stags.[10]
  • When Davos Seaworth sneaks Tyrion Lannister back in to King's Landing for a secret parlay, they are stopped by two Gold Cloaks at their boat. Davos passes himself off as a simple smuggler, and offers them the usual bribe smugglers give to make customs officials look the other way. Davos asks if 5 Gold Dragons is still customary, but one of the guards mocks that he must not have been in the city for a while, as they now expect a bribe of 15 Gold Dragons each (Davos indeed hasn't been smuggling in over 20 years, and inflation has set in due to the war and tightened security around the capital city).[11]

Beyond the Wall

The Free Folk living north of The Wall have a hardscrabble, survival-based economy, with little settled agriculture. As a result, Free Folk villages that the Night's Watch encounters are more interested in directly useful things that they can barter for, such as weapons, furs, or fine wines, and usually not coinage, which has little inherent use to them.[12] In fact, the wildlings don't have much skill with metallurgy for making actual coins: they don't know how to forge their own iron (though they obtain iron weapons through trade sometimes), and only a few know how to make bronze items (i.e. the Thenns).


There are many different systems of currency in the eastern continent, particularly in the merchant city-states known as the Nine Free Cities.

The Free Cities and Slaver's Bay

Unlike Westeros, much of the economy of the cultures in Essos is based on slavery. As their name implies, the city-states of Slaver's Bay are the heart of the international slave trade. While feudal serfdom is the social norm in Westeros, the laws of the Seven Kingdoms specifically outlaw slavery there. Payment in slaves is frequently used as a form of barter in Essos. Some of the Free Cities are also economically engaged in slavery, but this varies among the different city-states. Some such as Volantis (which is closest to Slaver's Bay) are heavily reliant upon slavery, but others such as Braavos (founded by former slaves who fled Valyria) have banned slavery.

Qarth is a major trading hub located next to the Straits of Qarth, through which all east-west ocean traffic must pass. In practice, Qarth is the furthest east on the continent of Essos that merchants from Westeros have been known to travel, and is thus at the extreme east of the mapped world to men in Westeros (Asshai and the Shadow Lands are located further east, but they are half-legendary to men in the Seven Kingdoms). They are also heavily involved in the slave trade.

Otherwise, each of the nine Free Cities as well as the cities of Slaver's Bay have their own unique minted currencies:

  • Gold Honors are round gold coins, used in Meereen.[13] Different cities use different variants of the Honor coin, such as Volantis and Qarth: the Meereenese Honor and the Volantene Honor have different designs on them.[14]
    • The currency used in Meereen (and apparently the rest of Slaver's Bay) is referred to by name for the first time as "Gold Honors" in Season 5's "The Gift", when Jorah Mormont is sold at a slave-auction to Yezzan zo Qaggaz, a slave-master from Yunkai purchasing new gladiators to enter into the fighting pits in Meereen. Jorah is considered above-average because he is a knight trained in sword and lance: the bidding starts at 12 Gold Honors and he is ultimately bought by Yezzan for 20 Gold Honors.
      • In the novels, 5,000 Gold Honors for a pair of slaves sent to the fighting pits is actually thought to be insultingly low. References to Gold Honors in the Season 5 "Histories & Lore" video (for "The Fighting Pits of Meereen") use figures closer to the novels, saying that a champion gladiator-slave can be worth 300,000 Gold Honors. It might be possible to reconcile this if it were established that the slavers at the auction in this episode were simply speaking in clipped phrases, i.e. "I bid twenty" as short for "I bid twenty (thousand)".
    • The Volantene coin that Mero holds in "Second Sons" appears to be silver, not gold. It isn't clear if this means that Volantene Honors are not made of gold, or that this is a sub-denomination of the Volantene Honor. Talisa also mentions people in Volantis using "coppers" even though the "Copper Penny" is a coin used in the Seven Kingdoms - but it isn't implausible that just as the Gold Dragon has sub-denominations made out of cheaper copper metal, Volantis also has silver and copper coins which are a sub-denomination of the main, gold currency.
  • The coins of Braavos are square-shaped, and made of simple iron. They are minted with the image of the Titan of Braavos on them.[15]
    • Different coins have also been seen in Braavos in the TV series, starting in Season 4's "The Laws of Gods and Men", round gold coins with the hourglass-shaped symbol of the Iron Bank of Braavos on them: clearly different from their normal square currency with the Titan of Braavos on it, these might be some sort of special voucher-coins that the Iron Bank gave to Davos Seaworth (who then shows them to Salladhor Saan to re-hire his fleet). These coins reappeared in Season 5 stacked up on the table of the Thin man selling life insurance to sailors at Braavos's harbor. Alternatively they might be some sort of different denomination of the standard Braavosi currency.
    • In Season 5's "The Dance of Dragons", the disguised Arya Stark sells oysters at a brothel in Braavos to Meryn Trant and his Lannister guards who are visiting the city. She says that half a dozen oysters cost "three coppers", and they give her one "silver" (apparently worth more than three coppers) saying it's because the lady of the house likes her. Braavos hasn't been said to use copper or silver currency in the novels - in fact their coins are made of iron, and thus apparently not commodity money (based on the precious metal value of the actual coin in circulation) but fiat money (just a medium of exchange, representing and exchangeable for gold reserves physically held by the Iron Bank itself). As with the example from Volantis, however, it's not implausible that Braavosi currency has smaller denominations made out of other metals, just like the Westerosi Gold Dragon - alternatively, the brothel patrons might have just been paying her in Westerosi money, given that they were part of an embassy that just came from Westeros (the episode only called them "coppers" and "silvers", not what specific nationality of coins they were).
    • The square iron Braavosi coins with the Titan stamped on them appear again in Arya's begging bowl in the Season 6 premiere, "The Red Woman".

The special coin that the assassin Jaqen H'ghar, one of the Faceless Men of Braavos, gave to Arya Stark is explicitly not normal currency. It is round and does not resemble a normal square Braavosi coin. Instead of "currency" it is a special token that the Faceless Men give to their allies or those they feel indebted to. Jaqen instructed Arya to present it to any man from Braavos if she needed help, and they would know this meant she was a friend of the Faceless Men.


The Dothraki are said to "not believe in money", instead taking what they want through raiding.[16] The two resources they actually have on the plains of the Dothraki Sea are miles upon miles of grass, and horses.[17] What material wealth or precious objects they possess have been acquired through raiding surrounding nations such as the Free Cities, Slaver's Bay, or Lhazar, or raiding other Dothraki hordes to take their plunder.

The Dothraki do not so much function on the barter system, as they use the honor system: they frown upon "trade" but honor the exchange of gifts, such as tribute. Long ago the Free Cities decided that it was often less destructive to just give the Dothraki massive tributes in gold, finished products, and slaves, than to try to fight them off - though a Dothraki horde might still attack if they find the tribute insufficient, or if they just haven't had a good fight in a while. The Dothraki will not reciprocate these "gifts" on an immediate quid pro quo trade system. However, they will as a rule keep their word to eventually give a gift which they have promised, though they will do it in their own time.[18]

In practice, if a Dothraki horde has a particular need for a resource that it cannot obtain through direct raiding, i.e. new high-quality steel weapons, they will resort to actual "barter" by trading slaves they have captured in return for finished products from the Free Cities or Slaver's Bay.[19]


Iron Bank leaders

The Iron Bank of Braavos

Bronn: "I've never borrowed money before, I'm not clear on the rules."
Tyrion Lannister: "Well, the basic principle is: I lend you money, and after an agreed upon period of time, you return it, with interest."
Tyrion Lannister and Ser Bronn discuss the realm's debts to foreign banks.[src]

Each of the Nine Free Cities has its own bank, for depositing and lending money. The largest bank by far is the Iron Bank of Braavos, which is as large and wealthy as the banks of all the other eight put together.[20]

When King Joffrey succeeded Robert, backed by his mother Cersei and grandfather Tywin Lannister, House Lannister was really attempting to found a new dynasty and supplant House Baratheon. A problem House Lannister encounters once Joffrey is in power is that essentially, half of the 6 million Gold Dragon debt was owed to themselves, and with Robert dead he can't pay Tywin back. This does not erase the mounting war debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, particularly given that at the start of the conflict most of the realm (beyond the Crownlands, Westerlands, and a narrow strip of the southern Riverlands) does not acknowledge Joffrey's rule.

Even after the slaughter of the Starks at the Red Wedding, the huge expenditures on the war, combined with the already shockingly high debts at the end of King Robert's reign, have left the crown so heavily in debt to the Iron Bank that even Tywin Lannister is concerned.[21]

After Tywin is murdered by his own son Tyrion, and the far less competent Queen Cersei Lannister is left in charge of House Lannister, the Iron Bank starts to lose its already dwindling faith that the crown of the Seven Kingdoms will be able to pay them back. With tensions mounting, the Iron Bank calls in one tenth of the huge total debts that they are owed. Cersei's new Master of Coin Mace Tyrell informs her that the Iron Throne's depleted treasury doesn't physically possess even half of that tenth of the total money they owe the bank.[22]


Jaqen H'ghar: "The man is a gambler. He wagers that a sailor's ship will make it to its destination. It is a strange wager for the captain. He only wins if he loses his life. So why would a captain make the wager in the first place?..."
Arya Stark: "If the captain dies, the thin man pays his family a lot of money."
Jaqen H'ghar quizzes Arya Stark on how shipping insurance works.[src]
5x08 Thin Man

The "thin man" at the docks of Braavos who sells insurance contracts to ship captains.

Business ventures across the Seven Kingdoms and the Free Cities often purchase insurance contracts from other merchants. In Braavos, Arya Stark is given a mission to assassinate a "Thin man" who sells insurance to ship captains at the docks (because he swindled sailors' families out of the money he had promised to pay).

It is not anachronistic to the time periods that Game of Thrones is based on for the thin man to sell insurance policies: there is evidence that the concept of insurance has been known and practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively. It's even more appropriate for Braavos, an economic powerhouse akin to the Dutch Republic, Genoa, or Venice, all states where uninsured ships had little chance of successful ventures. The novels actually do mention merchants in the Free Cities buying and selling insurance: apart from the thin man himself, the Triarch of Volantis named Vogarro was specifically said to sell insurance to shipowners against the hazards of the sea.

In the books


The A Song of Ice and Fire novels focus on economics much more than many previous Fantasy series. George R.R. Martin explained that this was a key part of his attempt to make the series more grounded and realistic. Martin is fascinated with how morally "good" men such as U.S. President Jimmy Carter (who even taught Sunday school for children) can nonetheless be "bad" rulers because they are ineffective, either in politics or simply at pragmatic economic concerns - and how men who have privately committed morally "bad" actions can nonetheless be "good" rulers, citing how U.S. President Richard Nixon was embroiled by scandals, but he was also very successful at political negotiations with the People's Republic of China (Martin himself gave this Carter/Nixon comparison).

As Martin explained:

"There is always this presumption that if you are a good man, you will be a good king. [Like] Tolkien — in The Return of the King, Aragorn comes back and becomes king, and then "he ruled wisely for three hundred years." Okay, fine. It is easy to write that sentence, “He ruled wisely”.
What does that mean, "He ruled wisely?" What were his tax policies? What did he do when two lords were making war on each other? Or barbarians were coming in from the north? What was his immigration policy? What about equal rights for Orcs? I mean did he just pursue a genocidal policy, "Let’s kill all these fucking Orcs who are still left over"? Or did he try to redeem them? You never actually see the nitty-gritty of ruling.
I guess there is an element of fantasy readers that don't want to see that. I find that fascinating. Seeing someone like Dany actually trying to deal with the vestments of being a queen and [dealing with] factions and guilds and the economy. They burnt all the fields [in Meereen]. They've got nothing to import anymore. They're not getting any money. I find this stuff interesting. And fortunately, enough of my readers who love the books do as well."[23]

In the storyline

The coinage used in the Seven Kingdoms is based on the Gold Dragon, and its various denominations, chief of which are the Silver Stag and Copper Penny. As their names suggest they are made of these precious metals. The Gold Dragon currency system is commodity money, based on the inherent value of the amount of gold or silver in each coin, as opposed to fiat money - like modern banknotes - in which currency is assigned a theoretical value but is physically just a medium of exchange (banknote paper currency does not exist in Westeros, or even in Essos, and no world culture has ever been described using paper currency in the novels).

That being said, sometimes possession is an abstract concept. Thus someone being paid thousands of Gold Dragon coins will not have to physically carry them around, but will be presented with official financial documents declaring the transaction (much as a knight might find it difficult to carry around on his back a castle he has been granted, but can carry around a sealed charter as proof of the land grant). Still, even large sums used in accounting - ranging into the tens of thousands of Gold Dragons - are supposed to represent physical gold coin reserves.

Reflecting real-life medieval practice, the currency of the Seven Kingdoms is not based on a decimal system, but grew haphazardly out of many centuries of rival coinage systems becoming integrated, so the exchange rate between different denominations reflects tradition and not abstract sense. Each of the original independent "Seven Kingdoms" minted their own money, but the coinage system was unified under the Targaryen dynasty after the War of Conquest 300 years ago. The Targaryen Kings did not completely "nationalize" the minting of coins, as private mints also exist, but coinage is primarily minted by the kingship and is certainly regulated by it.

The denominations most commonly encountered are, in descending order:

  • Gold Dragons - equal to 210 Silver Stags, or 11,760 Copper Pennies (56 X 210 = 11,760).
  • Silver Stags - equal to 56 Copper Pennies
  • Copper Pennies - also commonly encountered is the "Halfpenny" coin worth half a Copper Penny, and the "Copper Star" which is worth 8 normal Copper Pennies.

There are a few other regional coins worth different combinations that might be encountered from time to time, (a "Groat" equals 4 Copper Pennies, etc.) but these three are the most common.

Barter is, of course, still common on an everyday level.

The books contain many more examples of different kinds of coins and the relative price of different purchases. As in the TV series, the baker Arya asks for bread (right before her father is executed and the war begins), he says that a loaf costs three copper pennies. During the War of the Five Kings food prices are sent skyrocketing in King's Landing: when Tyrion first arrives in the city he observes that food prices have tripled, and continue to rise. The shortages resulted from the war's disruption of trade routes, particularly that House Tyrell closed off food shipments along the Roseroad when they declared for Renly Baratheon, along with the loss of food shipments from the Riverlands, which had declared for Robb Stark (the Reach and the Riverlands being the two main breadbasket regions of the realm). The shortages were compounded by the influx of refugees from the Riverlands seeking the safety of the capital city, which overburdened its already strained food supply, eventually leading to major food riots by the starving peasants. After the Tyrells ally with the Lannisters food shipments from the Reach arrive in the city again (i.e. how Margaery is seen giving out food aid in Season 3). Even after this, however, Tyrion notes that food prices are still shockingly high: six Copper Pennies for a melon, a Silver Stag for a bushel of corn, and a Gold Dragon for a side of beef or six skinny piglets. This was after the Tyrells were returning regular food shipments to the city, so the prices might have been higher beforehand, or they may have continued to rise (to four or five times their normal value) while Tyrion was Hand, so the exact ratio of these prices to their normal pre-war value is unclear.

In the first of the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequel novellas, set ninety years before the War of the Five Kings, it is mentioned that a man could live well on three Gold Dragons a year - though relative prices may have changed in subsequent generations. Supporting this notion is that in the Tales of Dunk and Egg, Duncan sold a knight's horse for 750 Silver Stags, which is about three and a half Gold Dragons. In contrast, during the War of the Five Kings, Jaime Lannister advises Brienne of Tarth that a single Gold Dragon (210 Silver Stags) is a good offer for a knight's horse. Thus the Gold Dragon apparently underwent significant Deflation in the past ninety years, though the devastation caused by the War of the Five Kings (combined with foreign debt from King Robert's reign) leads to the rapid monetary Inflation which Tyrion noted in the food markets. Another factor is that the first Dunk and Egg story takes place during the spring after the end of a years-long winter, when both the population and food supply would be lower, while the War of the Five Kings takes place at the end of a years-long summer, when both population and food supply start out very high - during the prequels, both supply and demand are proportionately lower than they are in the main series, and relative prices seem to have adjusted accordingly.

The resulting economic cycles would look something like this:

  • Winter - Food supply is low. Population starts off high, so food demand is still high, while cost of labor is low, so wages stay low even as food prices drastically increase due to demand exceeding supply.
  • Spring - So many people died in winter that population is now low, so cost of labor increases, resulting in higher wages. Food supply initially remains low, but so many people died that demand is also much lower. Initially high demand means that prices are high, but wages are also high, balancing out. Numerical value of products is higher but relative purchasing power is balanced (i.e. a single horse is worth around 3.5 Gold Dragons, but one laborer can make 3.5 Gold Dragons in a year).
  • Summer - Population gradually increases, causing demand to increase and cost of labor to go down. Food supply also gradually increases, however, and in good summers will exceed demand. Thus wages decrease, but prices also decrease - numerical value of products is lower, but wages are also lower, so relative purchasing power balances out.
  • Autumn - Trends from summer reach maximum: very high food supply, and highest population results in lowest wages and highest demand - which ideally will balance out with the high supply. Numerical value of products reaches their lowest but relative purchasing power is still balanced (i.e. a single horse is now worth 1 Gold Dragon, but one laborer can only make 1 Gold Dragon in a year - fundamentally a single horse still costs "a laborer's wages for one year", as in Spring).
  • Winter - The cycle repeats. Food supply is suddenly low but population is still high. Demand now drastically outpaces supply, sending food prices soaring while wages remain low. Relative purchasing power is now unbalanced: a single horse now costs significantly more than the the amount of wages that a laborer earns in a single year (this is just an example figure: it isn't clear how much a laborer actually makes in a single year in Westeros, in fact a single horse seems to be greater than one year's worth of wages).

Numerical prices (not raw purchasing power) do seem to be consistently about three times higher in the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequels compared to the main novel series. One Gold Dragon is considered a good price for a knight's horse in the main novels, while about three and a half Gold Dragons is considered a good price in Dunk's era. Moreover, at one point Ser Duncan uses a single Silver Stag coin (equal to 56 Copper Pennies) to purchase meals for two people at an inn, and receives a handful of Copper Pennies back as change. Presuming he received about a dozen or so Copper Pennies as change, and that this was to cover the cost of two meals, it seems that the cost of a single meal at an inn was about 20 Copper Pennies during the Tales of Dunk and Egg era. In contrast, in the main novels just before Eddard Stark's execution, a baker tells Arya that a loaf of bread will cost her 3 Copper Pennies. If the deflation ratio is consistent, the numerical price of a loaf of bread in Dunk's era would be around 9-10 Copper Pennies - which actually does seem to be consistent with the figure that a full, basic "meal" cost Dunk about twice that much.

No examples of prices were given in the prequel novellas about the Dance of the Dragons. The numerical cost of one horse dropped from 3.5 Gold Dragons in the harsh spring years of Tales of Dunk and Egg to only 1 Gold Dragon after the prosperous reign of King Robert, which lasted 15 years. The era of peace and prosperity before the Dance lasted far longer than that, an 80 year long golden age of peace and prosperity under the Targaryen kings Jaehaerys I and Viserys I. The civil war began in autumn, after Viserys I died, and winter began in the middle of the conflict. Keeping to the supply and demand trends observed at the end of Robert's reign, it is possible that the number value of prices at the start of the Dance of the Dragons was even lower (i.e. one Gold Dragon might have been enough to buy multiple horses), though purchasing power relative to average wages would have been the same.

The main takeaways from these figures, in short, are that just before the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings the price of everyday commodities such as a loaf of bread was around three Copper Pennies, and a knight's horse was worth about one Gold Dragon. Massive inflation takes place during the course of the War of the Five Kings, however, so relative prices during most of the TV series would rise drastically higher.

In the Seven Kingdoms, there is no particular cultural or religious rule against moneylending. Indeed, the Faith of the Seven has been known to lend money to the kingship. Thus, by the time of King Robert Baratheon, the crown owes a vast amount of accrued debt which was lent to it, mostly by House Lannister, the wealthiest noble landholders on the continent.

Robert Baratheon's massive public debts, largely the result of his own inept financial leadership, total approximately six million Gold Dragons. This debt is roughly divided between three million owed to House Lannister, two million owed to the Iron Bank of Braavos, and one million owed to the Faith of the Seven.

A point made in the books is that the crown of Seven Kingdoms actually was not in debt immediately after Robert's Rebellion. While there had been some war debts (King's Landing had to be extensively repaired after its sack, etc.), the Mad King had been hoarding gold for so long that such expenses were paid off. Tywin Lannister even remarks that the gross income of the crown has increased to something on the order of ten times what it was under the Mad King, due to various improvements in administration and an improving economy during the long summer years. Thus it is all the more shocking to Eddard Stark when he is informed that the crown is 6 million Gold Dragons in debt, highlighting just how much Robert Baratheon was beggaring the realm with his many expensive jousts. Indeed, Tyrion Lannister is skeptical that even Robert's expensive tournaments and overall bad management could have produced such massive debts given the strong gross income levels, leading him to suspect that Littlefinger has been embezzling massive amounts of money from the treasury. The Tourney of the Hand, for example, cost 100,000 Gold Dragons in prize money, and is presented as a very large tournament even by Robert's standards. Robert has been king for 15 years in the novels, and 6 million divided by 15 is 400,000 - meaning that Robert would have to have held a massive tournament on the scale of the Tourney of the Hand every three months for 15 years to spend that much money. Tyrion realizes these numbers are implausible, as Robert simply didn't hold that many large tournaments.

Each of the independent "Seven Kingdoms" minted their own different local currencies until they were all united by Aegon I Targaryen in the War of Conquest three hundred years before the War of the Five Kings. The Targaryens standardized the currency throughout their new unified realm, enforcing the Gold Dragon/Silver Stag/Coppy Penny system. Little has been mentioned so far of pre-Conquest currency, but the Kingdom of the Reach minted gold coins known as "Hands", featuring the hand-sigil of House Gardener on one side and the face of the king whose reign they were minted in on the other side. Surprisingly, quite a few Hand coins remain in circulation, even though new ones ceased being minted three hundred years ago. A gold Hand coin is only roughly half the value of a Gold Dragon coin. However, gold Hands are also roughly the same size, weight, and shape as a Gold Dragon, which may lead the unwary to confuse them. Olenna Tyrell keeps a chest of old gold Hands in her carriage, and uses them when she needs to pay toll-takers on the road whom she feels have been rude or insulting, in order to dupe them into taking only half of what they request. Dorne wasn't even conquered by the Targaryens, and only entered the realm through peaceful marriage-alliance one hundred years ago, thus it is probable that their own local currency may be even more prevalent than the Kingdom of the Reach's three hundred year old currency.

In the early months of the War of the Five Kings, after Robb Stark is declared King in the North, the idea is suggested that the new Kingdom of the North (and Riverlands) should mint its own coinage. When Prince Bran Stark is holding a harvest feast at Winterfell attended by several Northern lords, Lord Wyman of House Manderly proposes that he will fund the creation of new mints to produce coinage for Robb's kingdom (as House Manderly controls White Harbor, the North's only city and port, and is therefore fairly wealthy due to its maritime commerce). Soon afterwards, however, the ironborn betray the Starks and attack the western coasts of the North, seizing Winterfell itself, thus the plan to make their own coinage is apparently put on hold to deal with the more immediate threat. The plans to make their own Northern coinage were rendered moot with the death of Robb Stark and destruction of his army at the Red Wedding. The proposed mints apparently never began production, as there is no mention of new Northern currency in the books.

See also