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Money, specifically minted coin money, was used in Middle-earth through the Third Age.



When Bilbo Baggins rushed from his door to meet Thorin and his party of dwarves at the Green Dragon Inn, he found himself outside without "a hat, a walking stick, or any money, or anything that he usually took with him when he went out".[1]

After the death of Smaug and the destruction of Esgaroth the people were angry at the Master of Lake-town and declared, "We have had enough of the old men and the money-counters!" Others took up the cry of "Up with the Bowman (meaning Bard) and down with Moneybags".[2]

Money was mentioned in relation to the trading town of Bree. At the end of the Third Age, a pony was considered to be worth about four silver pennies. The well-to-do owner of the Prancing Pony, Barliman Butterbur, considered a loss of 30 silver pennies to be a considerable blow.[3] A gold piece was regarded as a particularly extravagant reward for good news.

When Aragorn and the four hobbits were camped on the side of Weathertop, Sam wandered to the edge of the dell. Soon he came running back in fear and said, "I durstn't go outside this dell for any money."[3]

Azog threw a money purse at Nár containing "few coins of little worth" (which the Dwarves later stuffed in the mouth of Azog's decapitated head after his defeat).[4]

Much of the gold and silver wealth of Dwarf-horde of Smaug appears to have been minted. Bilbo Baggins took home two chests from the horde, one containing gold and the other silver,[5] and as a result (in addition to his family's pre-existing wealth) lived very comfortably for the next 50 years and was considered quite rich. In addition to the Hobbits of Bree, the Hobbits of the Shire apparently dealt in coin money as well, otherwise they might not have been so eager to search Bag End after Bilbo left, looking for secret treasure rooms.

In Gondor, the chief currency was the Castar; a small silver coin known as the Tharni was worth one-fourth of a Castar.[6]

Background Information

In The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster, the entry for "Money" on page 344 makes it a point to say

"contrary to the claims of some, there are references to money in The Lord of the Rings'"
― The Complete Guide to Middle-earth - "Money"

The above phrase suggests that (in the early days of Tolkien fandom) there was some belief that coin money used as actual "currency" did not exist in Middle-earth; references to money are scarce, not highlighted and obviously forgettable among the narrative.

See Also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Appendix on Languages", p. 45