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Would Fat Walda's dowry make anyone wealthy


Alden Rothack
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11 hours ago, SeanF said:

Fat Walda is worth $63,000 at current prices, but we don’t know what the price of silver is in Westeros.

a lot less than that which is why the dowry seems so low, a dowry of 60,000 gold dragons would be about right for marrying a Lord Paramont

 

10 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

By my reckoning, it's worth around 140 stags to the pound, although this assumes we're talking about the current standard pound.

I'd be interested to know your reasoning on that

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Part of the problem is that the numbers for coinage make no real sense.  In medieval Europe, one ounce of gold was worth eleven ounces of silver.  In the 1700s it was around 15-1.  A gold coin being worth 210 silver coins (a number I've seen somewhere) would require a gold coin being 20 times the weight of the silver one.  Like a U.S. dime and a double eagle (roughly the size of an old silver dollar).  Basically a tiny silver coin and a very large gold coin.  By the way, the double eagle was roughly one ounce.  So if we assume a dragon is roughly one ounce, based on historical values, her weight would be equivalent to about 100 ounces, or probably around 100 dragons.  I think that's a lot but I'm not sure.

 

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1 hour ago, Alden Rothack said:

a lot less than that which is why the dowry seems so low, a dowry of 60,000 gold dragons would be about right for marrying a Lord Paramont

 

I'd be interested to know your reasoning on that

It's based on the SPM stag again, which, being authorised by GRRM is probably roughly representative of a Westerosi stag. It's also in line with pre-decimal silver British coins weight-wise.

The stag purports to be 1/10 of an ounce or 3.3g. Unfortunately, these are not the same thing. Assuming that the ounce in question is a troy ounce (the standard for precious metals, and the only "ounce" I'm aware of that makes sense in this context) then that's only 31g, so the coin would weigh 3.1g. The difference of 0.2g is hardly important in the abstract (indeed, I own a stag and don't have a set of scales sensitive enough to pick up the difference) but it does obviously make a difference when you're talking about hundreds or thousands of coins. The "pound" above, however, is the avoirdupois (i.e. US/international standard pound), not the troy pound (obsolete) or the tower pound (much smaller than the avdp pound). So the troy ounce doesn't fit into it neatly in any case.

If we take the metric value as correct then there are about 137 stags to the (standard) pound; if we assume the 1/10 ounce value is correct then it's about 146, so 140 seems a sensible estimate if we're dealing in round numbers.

I am disregarding any issue to do with coin purity, firstly because it's likely that the dowry was paid in coins anyway; secondly because unless the coins in question are obviously debased, the face value will track the precious metal price; thirdly because if it's paid in bullion rather than in coins then to actually spend the money, Roose will need to incur the cost of translating that bullion to coin anyway. If he owns his own mint (which he probably doesn't at the time the dowry is paid, but may do by the time he becomes LP of the North) he can probably do better than the wastage implied (the SPM coins are .999 but that's obviously unrealistic for Westeros: under Aerys .925, i.e. the sterling rate, is probably achievable, but coinage may have been debased under Robert) but all that becomes largely a question of Roose's ingenuity and resources rather than the value of the dowry itself.

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19 minutes ago, Nevets said:

Part of the problem is that the numbers for coinage make no real sense.  In medieval Europe, one ounce of gold was worth eleven ounces of silver.  In the 1700s it was around 15-1.  A gold coin being worth 210 silver coins (a number I've seen somewhere) would require a gold coin being 20 times the weight of the silver one.  Like a U.S. dime and a double eagle (roughly the size of an old silver dollar).  Basically a tiny silver coin and a very large gold coin.  By the way, the double eagle was roughly one ounce.  So if we assume a dragon is roughly one ounce, based on historical values, her weight would be equivalent to about 100 ounces, or probably around 100 dragons.  I think that's a lot but I'm not sure.

 

not necessarily though the silver penny and the Five guinea were within that range

silver varies hugely over time from lows of about ten to one to a highs of a hundred and fity to one

it is quite possible that the relative abundance of silver in westeros resulted in an extremely ratio of over a hundred to one

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9 minutes ago, Alden Rothack said:

not necessarily though the silver penny and the Five guinea were within that range

silver varies hugely over time from lows of about ten to one to a highs of a hundred and fity to one

it is quite possible that the relative abundance of silver in westeros resulted in an extremely ratio of over a hundred to one

I'd be a lot happier if we had something canonical and specific regarding coin size and exchange rates.  Unfortunately he's given us so many amounts for things, some of which I expect were generated more or less at random, especially in the early books, that specifying things might cause as much confusion as certainly.  

So I think we're stuck with Fat Walda's dowry being a decent sum but it won't make him rich.  I think the whole idea was just to show that Roose is sufficiently greedy he will choose a fat bride simply to get a bit more money out of it.  Which somehow fits.

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7 minutes ago, Alester Florent said:

It's based on the SPM stag again, which, being authorised by GRRM is probably roughly representative of a Westerosi stag. It's also in line with pre-decimal silver British coins weight-wise.

The stag purports to be 1/10 of an ounce or 3.3g. Unfortunately, these are not the same thing. Assuming that the ounce in question is a troy ounce (the standard for precious metals, and the only "ounce" I'm aware of that makes sense in this context) then that's only 31g, so the coin would weigh 3.1g. The difference of 0.2g is hardly important in the abstract (indeed, I own a stag and don't have a set of scales sensitive enough to pick up the difference) but it does obviously make a difference when you're talking about hundreds or thousands of coins. The "pound" above, however, is the avoirdupois (i.e. US/international standard pound), not the troy pound (obsolete) or the tower pound (much smaller than the avdp pound). So the troy ounce doesn't fit into it neatly in any case.

If we take the metric value as correct then there are about 137 stags to the (standard) pound; if we assume the 1/10 ounce value is correct then it's about 146, so 140 seems a sensible estimate if we're dealing in round numbers.

I am disregarding any issue to do with coin purity, firstly because it's likely that the dowry was paid in coins anyway; secondly because unless the coins in question are obviously debased, the face value will track the precious metal price; thirdly because if it's paid in bullion rather than in coins then to actually spend the money, Roose will need to incur the cost of translating that bullion to coin anyway. If he owns his own mint (which he probably doesn't at the time the dowry is paid, but may do by the time he becomes LP of the North) he can probably do better than the wastage implied (the SPM coins are .999 but that's obviously unrealistic for Westeros: under Aerys .925, i.e. the sterling rate, is probably achievable, but coinage may have been debased under Robert) but all that becomes largely a question of Roose's ingenuity and resources rather than the value of the dowry itself.

I don't have any objection to the shire mint stag coin, I would say its a good middle ground between the stag bing worth too much and the coppers being worth too little, a shilling sized stag would imply a gold dragon of implausible size indeed

one and a half pounds to the dragon sounds about right, plugging in relative income from the 13th to early 14th century gets you about £45,000 to a dragon in modern values

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3 minutes ago, Nevets said:

I'd be a lot happier if we had something canonical and specific regarding coin size and exchange rates.  Unfortunately he's given us so many amounts for things, some of which I expect were generated more or less at random, especially in the early books, that specifying things might cause as much confusion as certainly.  

So I think we're stuck with Fat Walda's dowry being a decent sum but it won't make him rich.  I think the whole idea was just to show that Roose is sufficiently greedy he will choose a fat bride simply to get a bit more money out of it.  Which somehow fits.

its not actually as bad as it seems, everything makes sense as long as you remember that certain people are fools. a fool and his money are easily parted

its that plus Roose doesn't expect Walda to live long enough to start costing him money

in addition Roose is practical enough to want a wife he can get along with and preferably one that nobodys already had, Fat Walda delivers and nets him double the silver

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If a dragon were worth a noble, the first English gold coin, which was 8.7g, which was one third of a pound, that would imply the stag is worth one third of a penny.

If it was the weight of the Roman solidus (4.5g) that makes it one sixth.

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2 hours ago, SeanF said:

If a dragon were worth a noble, the first English gold coin, which was 8.7g, which was one third of a pound, that would imply the stag is worth one third of a penny.

If it was the weight of the Roman solidus (4.5g) that makes it one sixth.

noble was not the first, the gold penny was the first

the stag really has to be at least the size of a silver penny which is makes a small dragon unlikely

 

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15 minutes ago, Alden Rothack said:

noble was not the first, the gold penny was the first

the stag really has to be at least the size of a silver penny which is makes a small dragon unlikely

 

210 stags to the dragon matches 240 pennies to the pound.  That matches up well with some of the prices and incomes in Dunk and Egg, and the quoted ransoms, but it makes the tournament prizes of 10-40,000 dragons ridiculous.

A man with 10,000 pounds should be able to purchase land worth £3-400 a year, the income of a very rich knight or the average Baron.  The income on 40,000 pounds would be that of an earl.

By contrast, 40 pounds a year was considered an average knightly income in 1400 England.

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3 minutes ago, SeanF said:

210 stags to the dragon matches 240 pennies to the pound.  That matches up well with some of the prices and incomes in Dunk and Egg, and the quoted ransoms, but it makes the tournament prizes of 10-40,000 dragons ridiculous.

Any conversion is going to make the tourney prizes ridicious because Robert made them a hundred times too large

 

5 minutes ago, SeanF said:

A man with 10,000 pounds should be able to purchase land worth £3-400 a year, the income of a very rich knight or the average Baron.  The income on 40,000 pounds would be that of an earl.

Actually its worse than that, the richest man in england for the entire 14th century had an income of £20,000

9 minutes ago, SeanF said:

By contrast, 40 pounds a year was considered an average knightly income in 1400 England.

absolutely and half that was considered enough to serve as an MP and fighting gentlemen

5 pounds was enough to profer an archer or pikeman

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13 hours ago, Lee-Sensei said:

If anything, I'd tink that establishing peace would have made the Frey's even richer.

What other dowry's have we heard of that dwarf Walder's?

 

Lol, Illyrio? The biggest BSer in the story? He knows perfectly well that war is a great time to enrich oneself, especially if you control a strategic point that military leaders must use if they hope to prevail against their enemies. And in peace, like we've noted, the bulk of trade is following the kingsroad, with the rest more likely to take the faster route downriver. So any trade crossing at the Twins is local at best. If they are making any significant money on trade at all, it's from patrolling the river, not blocking the bridge.

King Argilac offered his daughter to Aegon I, and all the lands east of the God's Eye. Would you say that is worth more than a few hundred silvers?

And look at it this way, 1000 ounces of silver weighs about 70 pounds. If Fat Walda is 300 pounds, that's about 425 coins -- assuming that the coins are one ounce each of pure silver. In the Hedge Knight, some 80 years prior to the current story, Ser Duncan sold his horse for 3.5 gold. He got three gold coins and 50 silver, which means one gold is equal to 100 silvers.

In the current story, both Brienne and Tom o Seven think that one gold is a fair price for a horse. So at best, Walder is giving Roose the equivalent of 4, maybe 5 horses for his daughter. Imagine any lord paramount selling off a daughter this cheap, or even top-tier bannerman like a Reyne or a Hightower.

This is a measly dowry by lordly standards, any way you look at it.

 

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3 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Lol, Illyrio? The biggest BSer in the story? He knows perfectly well that war is a great time to enrich oneself, especially if you control a strategic point that military leaders must use if they hope to prevail against their enemies. And in peace, like we've noted, the bulk of trade is following the kingsroad, with the rest more likely to take the faster route downriver. So any trade crossing at the Twins is local at best. If they are making any significant money on trade at all, it's from patrolling the river, not blocking the bridge.

King Argilac offered his daughter to Aegon I, and all the lands east of the God's Eye. Would you say that is worth more than a few hundred silvers?

And look at it this way, 1000 ounces of silver weighs about 70 pounds. If Fat Walda is 300 pounds, that's about 425 coins -- assuming that the coins are one ounce each of pure silver. In the Hedge Knight, some 80 years prior to the current story, Ser Duncan sold his horse for 3.5 gold. He got three gold coins and 50 silver, which means one gold is equal to 100 silvers.

In the current story, both Brienne and Tom o Seven think that one gold is a fair price for a horse. So at best, Walder is giving Roose the equivalent of 4, maybe 5 horses for his daughter. Imagine any lord paramount selling off a daughter this cheap, or even top-tier bannerman like a Reyne or a Hightower.

This is a measly dowry by lordly standards, any way you look at it.

That quote was from Qhorwyn the Cunning. This is comes up repeatedly with George and he's not wrong. I don't think the bridge being the primary source of their wealth makes much sense, even though it's a cool bridge and castle. It makes a lot more sense that they're making money off the land. As I said before, they have a lot of it and given the size of their army, they're probably ruling over a lot of people.

I love Argilac, but didn't he offer Aegon land that he didn't actually own?

George probably didn't think about the math of it, but what's clear is that the Frey's are a very wealthy family.

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

And look at it this way, 1000 ounces of silver weighs about 70 pounds. If Fat Walda is 300 pounds, that's about 425 coins -- assuming that the coins are one ounce each of pure silver. In the Hedge Knight, some 80 years prior to the current story, Ser Duncan sold his horse for 3.5 gold. He got three gold coins and 50 silver, which means one gold is equal to 100 silvers.

In the current story, both Brienne and Tom o Seven think that one gold is a fair price for a horse. So at best, Walder is giving Roose the equivalent of 4, maybe 5 horses for his daughter. Imagine any lord paramount selling off a daughter this cheap, or even top-tier bannerman like a Reyne or a Hightower.

This is a measly dowry by lordly standards, any way you look at it.

Is it certain that Dunk got 50 silver in addition to the three golds? I don't have the story in front of me but that would make a hopeless mess of the otherwise generally understood exchange ra, which makes me suspect it's not what he actually got.

Bear in mind that there are probably different denominations of silver coin, too. The table on the wiki (which is extrapolated from details in the D&E stories and the RPG, but not strictly speaking confirmed by GRRM) posits 210 (silver) stags to the gold dragon but only 30 (silver) moons, and since silver and gold values are not pegged to each other, that exchange rate may not be consistent. 

(Note too that there are different weight standards for different materials: bullion is weighed in troy ounces which are not the same as standard US/international ounces - being around 10% heavier). 

A one-ounce silver coin (whichever ounce is used) is a proper chonker: equivalent to the historic crown (the largest English silver coin in circulation), unlikely to be the standard silver coin in use. More likely, the stag is a fraction of an ounce, like the SPM stag, and the vast majority of historic silver currency that was actually intended for use as cash. 

Translating to modern values (which is of course dangerous) then if the stag at 1/10oz is worth approx. £3 (bullion value), the lowest-denomination coin, the halfpenny, is worth about 2.5p (or 3-ish cents), which is worth pretty much jack-all... but that doesn't stop modern mints producing coins of that or even lower value. 

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23 hours ago, Lee-Sensei said:

That quote was from Qhorwyn the Cunning. This is comes up repeatedly with George and he's not wrong. I don't think the bridge being the primary source of their wealth makes much sense, even though it's a cool bridge and castle. It makes a lot more sense that they're making money off the land. As I said before, they have a lot of it and given the size of their army, they're probably ruling over a lot of people.

I love Argilac, but didn't he offer Aegon land that he didn't actually own?

George probably didn't think about the math of it, but what's clear is that the Frey's are a very wealthy family.

Yes, very wealthy, but not on par with other top-tier bannermen like Walder pretends. Again, he's wealthy in land, not so much in coin -- for the very reason he says: he has a huge family to feed, clothe, house and arm.  

 

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9 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Yes, very wealthy, but not on par with other top-tier bannermen like Walder pretends. Again, he's wealthy in land, not so much in coin -- for the very reason he says: he has a huge family to feed, clothe, house and arm.  

 

Given how little he seems to spend and the fact that He outlived multiple wifes hes probably not objectively cash poor either just not on the level with any of the top ten houses of westeros like he'd like to be.

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29 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Yes, very wealthy, but not on par with other top-tier bannermen like Walder pretends. Again, he's wealthy in land, not so much in coin -- for the very reason he says: he has a huge family to feed, clothe, house and arm.  

Which top tier bannermen? The Hightowers and Redwynes? No. Probably not the Reynes either. The Frey's are definitely amongst the richest in Westeros though and they have been for a long time. They're not just rich in land. They have a lot of money too. He has a large family, but we're never given any reason to believe that he can't support them and he does ably.

Edited by Lee-Sensei
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22 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

Is it certain that Dunk got 50 silver in addition to the three golds? I don't have the story in front of me but that would make a hopeless mess of the otherwise generally understood exchange ra, which makes me suspect it's not what he actually got.

Bear in mind that there are probably different denominations of silver coin, too. The table on the wiki (which is extrapolated from details in the D&E stories and the RPG, but not strictly speaking confirmed by GRRM) posits 210 (silver) stags to the gold dragon but only 30 (silver) moons, and since silver and gold values are not pegged to each other, that exchange rate may not be consistent. 

(Note too that there are different weight standards for different materials: bullion is weighed in troy ounces which are not the same as standard US/international ounces - being around 10% heavier). 

A one-ounce silver coin (whichever ounce is used) is a proper chonker: equivalent to the historic crown (the largest English silver coin in circulation), unlikely to be the standard silver coin in use. More likely, the stag is a fraction of an ounce, like the SPM stag, and the vast majority of historic silver currency that was actually intended for use as cash. 

Translating to modern values (which is of course dangerous) then if the stag at 1/10oz is worth approx. £3 (bullion value), the lowest-denomination coin, the halfpenny, is worth about 2.5p (or 3-ish cents), which is worth pretty much jack-all... but that doesn't stop modern mints producing coins of that or even lower value. 

Actually, it was 7.5 gold for Sweetfoot: 3 gold dragons and the rest in silver, so sure, the exchange rates may vary, depending on the silver content of the coin. But my math was wrong in any event. Roose wouldn't have 425 coins, but 4,250. But even then, that's only equivalent to 42 horses at one gold apiece, and assuming a 1:100 ratio, which is still a pitiful dowry for the daughter of a fabulously wealthy house.

And in the end the same ethos applies: merchants deal in silver, lords deal in gold.

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