Just moved on to Book 4 A Feast for Crows and found this word sticking out at me in a few chapters: Groat. It pops up twice in one chapter with Cersei saying something like "so-and-so is not worth half a groat" or "She would have given half a groat for such-and-the-other." And then it popped up again in the next chapter with a similar context. The standard English definition makes reasonable sense:

noun historical

noun: groat; plural noun: groats

  1. any of various medieval European coins, in particular an English silver coin worth four old pence, issued between 1351 and 1662.

The Game of Thrones Wikia seems to confirm this, but does not supply a source.

But it still strikes me as odd, mainly because the rest of the currency that I remember reading in the book is referred to very precisely. I remember copper pennies (also called stars), silver stags (House Baratheon's mint I presume) and golden dragons. Groat is the only denomination to turn up first in a figure of speech, rather than a form of payment. The only other denomination to take on such a figure (at this point in the books) is the dwarf's penny which

Tyrion Lannister enacts as a tax on every brothel 'transaction' during his short stint as the master of coin, after being replaced as the King's Hand and before being imprisoned.

And this expression is introduced and very clearly defined through dialog.

So my question is if a groat has a more proper introduction and definition in the Game of Thrones books or if it just slips into existence (in a typical High-Fantasy fashion) as an anachronism of olde/middle English? A book & page reference with quote would be fantastic.

  • On a related note, is there a meta discussion on a currency tag? I would have thought it would be a common enough theme across SciFi and Fantasy to be worth tracking. – Dacio Dec 17 '13 at 20:19
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    As a point of interest, Tyrion notes in ADWD that the dwarf girl Penny and her brother Groat (Oppo) were named after "the two smallest coins", which is also mentioned in Penny's wikipedia article. – TLP Dec 17 '13 at 20:37
  • I found that wiki article as well, but I didn't see the citation to Tyrion's quote. Also, I haven't read ADWD yet, but I guess if that's where groat is defined... that's okay too? Still seems odd next to the other coins, but then again, I guess leagues and fathoms aren't formally introduced in the text either. – Dacio Dec 17 '13 at 20:47
  • @TLP - Interesting find on Groat and Penny. Perhaps the two terms are interchangeable? – System Down Dec 17 '13 at 21:22
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    It seems unlikely to me that there are only three denominations of coins in Westeros, for comparison there seem to have been up to 13 different denominations in the UK before decimalisation. But the concept of fantasy worlds with three basic denominations seems relatively common. – Alan Jan 24 '14 at 13:25

According to the GoT Wikia and the AWOIAF Wikia, the primary currency of the Western Kingdoms is the Gold Dragon, a physical currency based on the Gold Standard.

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The relative values are discussed extensively in the books as well as the canon(ish) roleplaying game;

  • Golden Dragon - equal to 210 Silver Stags, or 11,760 copper pennies (56 X 210 = 11,760).
  • Silver Stag - equal to 7 stars (or 56 copper pennies)
  • Silver Moon - equal to 49 stars (or 392 copper pennies)
  • Copper Star - equal to 8 copper pennies.
  • Groats - equal to 4 copper pennies
  • Half Groat - equal to two pennies
  • Copper Pennies
  • Copper Half Penny (self-explanatory)

As far as the actual values are concerned, we see Lord Baelish musing that "100 Gold Dragons could buy a dozen barrels of expensive Dornish wine".

If we take the relative prices of Wine in the year 1300 and use a calculator to approximate the relative value, we can see that 100 Gold Dragons is worth approximately £800 ($1300) in today's money. A copper penny is therefore worth around 1/11760th of the value (or about 6p) which equates very nicely to the medieval cost of a small loaf of bread or a flagon of cheap ale.

A groat would therefore be worth 4 times as much, perhaps enough to buy you a linen chemise, two nights in an inn or a very cheap sword.

“I know her name.” He hated her name. Her brother had gone by the name of Groat, though his true name had been Oppo. Groat and Penny. The smallest coins, worth the least, and what’s worse, they chose the names themselves. It left a bad taste in Tyrion’s mouth. “By any name, she needs a friend.” - A Dance with Dragons

There are, of course a wealth of other currencies mentioned including the Dothraki Puli; Qarthian Honors and Braavosi Iron coins. Their precise value (and conversion rates) are never explained in any great detail.

  • This is a very comprehensive answer; I had already upvoted it. The only additional thing I was looking for was a list of times 'groat' was used in the novel text and whether any of those related to the actual currency value or physical representation of the coin (as Tyrion's wiki article quote from the comments might), or whether the word was just thrown around to express the metaphoric worthlessness in the eyes of rich people. – Dacio Mar 8 '15 at 23:48
  • The word groat is only mentioned in two of the novels; A Dance with Dragons and A Feast for Crows. In ADwD, it's explictly stated that it's the second lowest value coin (see quote above), after the penny. In AFfC, the word is simply used to mean a low-value coin (I wouldn't give two groats for his chances, etc). – Valorum Mar 8 '15 at 23:54

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