Fifth Month
Passage Hand
Year 10,174 Contasta Ar

Money - Theory

This is my narrative on a theory of money.

Theory - When speaking of coins, is a Tarn worth more than a Tarsk?

In the summer of 2017 I was approached by WhenHeFalleth Hax, who asked why I lumped Tarns and Tarsks together as basically the same value. In other words, for example, a silver tarn is the same as a silver tarsk.

As our initial conversation began, I will admit, I pretty much dismissed his theory.

But he then provided me a note card with a synopsis of his research. He says, by virtue of the name, (as animals, a tarn is of greater value than a tarsk) a copper tarn is worth more than a copper tarsk, a silver tarn is worth more than a silver tarsk and so on. The ratio being a tarn is worth 2½ times more than a tarsk of the same metal.

I thanked him for his time, diligence and contacting me. And then again, I pretty much dismissed the whole thing.

But it kept nagging me. Was he right? And more importantly, had I inadvertently mislead people who use this site?

Basically he brought up three points:

1. A Tarn is worth more than a Tarsk

2. The ratio is a Tarn is worth 2½ times that of a Tarsk

3. To distinguish Tarns from Tarsks, Tarns are embellished with a bird and Tarsks with a boar.

1. A Tarn is worth more than a Tarsk

This is the quote he provided as the basis of his theory:

"Nela was an expensive girl, though there were pools where
the girls cost as much as a silver tarn disk. The tarsk is a
silver coin, worth forty copper tarn disks."
p. 223, Assassin of Gor

And this is that passage with additional context:

Nela was a sturdy girl, a bit short. She had wrapped about her a piece of toweling. Her eyes were blue. She was a magnificent swimmer, strong and vital. Her blond hair was cut very short to protect it from the water, even though, in swimming, such girls often wrapped a long broad strap of glazed leather about their head, in a turban of sorts. Beneath the toweling Nela wore nothing; about her neck, rather than the common slave collar, she, like the other bath girls, wore a chain and plate. On her plate was the legend; I am Nela of the Capacian Baths. Pool of Blue Flowers. I cost one tarsk.
Nela was an expensive girl, though there were pools where the girls cost as much as a silver tarn disk.
The tarsk is a silver coin, worth forty copper tarn disks. All the girls in the Pool of Blue Flowers cost the same, except novices in training who would go for ten or fifteen copper tarn disks.    (emphasis mine)
Assassin of Gor     Book 5     Page 160

So, Nela cost one tarsk but a more expensive girl cost one tarn. This certainly seems to indicate that a silver tarn is worth more than a silver tarsk.

Is there any other evidence of a tarn being worth more than a tarsk?

It might be possible to draw that conclusion from these quotes:

"Then I am not surprised," he said, "for the wealth and taste of Decius Albus, high counselor to the Ubar, trade advisor to the Ubar, are well known in Ar, as is the quality of his display slaves. He never pays less than eight silver tarsks for a slave. If your Paula sold for a single coin it would have been a gold tarsk, or a gold tarn, probably a gold tarsk. A gold tarsk is usually valued at ten silver tarsks, and a gold tarn, in today's market, might well purchase two draft tarns, a racing tarn or a war tarn."
Plunder of Gor     Book 34     Page 338
"I am not a display slave," I said. "I am not a prize slave. I did not sell for a golden tarsk, or tarn!"
"I did not tell you that!" she said.
"It is common knowledge," I said, "that Decius Albus will not buy a cheap slave, any who might go appropriately for less than eight silver tarsks."
"It was only a golden tarsk," she said. "The bidding must have been irrational. The agent of Master Decius was doubtless inattentive or incompetent. You are far more beautiful than I."
Plunder of Gor     Book 34     Page 344
As would be expected, the most common denominations in the market were those of Ar, her tarn disks, and her tarsks, of copper, and silver and gold.
Conspirators of Gor     Book 31     Page 273
(again, emphasis mine)

2. The ratio is a Tarn is worth 2 and half times more than of a Tarsk

The original quote, Assassin of Gor, Page 160, tells us one silver tarsk is worth forty copper tarn disks.

Sadly we do not learn the equivalent of a silver tarn in copper tarn disks. In fact, I cannot find any comparison of worth to a silver tarn. So we cannot make a direct comparison between the two.

If I could find a ratio of silver tarsks to silver tarns I could extrapolate the worth factor.

If I could find any mention of the worth of a silver tarn, it would help.

Unfortunately I can find no information to substantiate how much more worth a tarn is than a tarsk.

3. Tarns are embellished with a bird and Tarsks with a boar

What makes one disk a tarn and another a tarsk? In other words, are birds stamped into the faces of tarns and boars stamped into the faces of tarsks?

First of all, of the few times a coin's design is described by a Gorean, there are mentioned a jarl's mark, the stamp of the mints of Ar, the ship and the sign of Port Kar and the mark of the mint of Tabor

But nowhere on Gor is mentioned a bird or a boar.

I say "on Gor" because there is a singular reference to the crest of a bird on a gold coin. It's just that this description is by a coin authenticator on Earth. The examination is detailed in the first few pages of Kajira of Gor.

Here are the key passages:

"There is an eagle on the other side," I said, helpfully.
"Is there?" he asked. He turned the coin on the felt, touching it carefully with the cotton gloves.
I looked at the bird more closely.
"It is not an eagle," he said. "It has a crest."
"What sort of bird is it?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Perhaps it is a bird from some mythology," he said, "perhaps a mere artist's whimsy."
I looked at the fierce head on the surface of the yellowish object.
Kajira of Gor Book 19 Page 13

So, we know the tarn crest was on that coin. What we don't know is if it was a Tarn Disk. It could have been. Or it could have been from the city of Thentis, famed for her tarn flocks, maybe just from a private individual in Corcyrus or for some reason pivotal in the plans of the agents who brought Tiffany Collins from Earth.

I cannot find any reference to a boar's head being on any coin.

It seems reasonable to me that if it was more common than not, it would be mentioned more than once how a bird's crest or a boar's head differentiated tarns from tarsks.

My final conclusion, after days and days and days of additional research, is this:

3. The emblem of an animal on coins was not worth mentioning more than once.

2. There is no evidence to substantiate a value of 2½ tarsks to 1 tarn across the board.

1. I will agree that there is evidence of some sort of difference between a tarsk and a tarn.

I wish you well,


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