Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

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Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby lolpaca » Thu May 09, 2013 4:07 pm

Hi all,

I've been doing some research into fictional currencies and I've come to the AM$. I'm trying to work out a rough conversion rate into our-world pounds sterling, but the AM$ is proving tricky and I was hoping some of the fans here might be able to help me out. Simply put, how many £ do you think an AM$ is worth, and why?

This article has been quite helpful so far, but (unless my maths is even more horrible than I thought) I'm running into a few problems. After working out a few equivalent real-world salaries, I thought I agreed with the original contention that AM$1 = roughly £40, but then that would make Vimes' statement that a "cheap pair of boots costs $10" a bit ridiculous...

I realise Pterry probably didn't spend a great deal of time keeping the value of the dollar internally consistent from novel to novel, but there are loads of references to the cost of things throughout the books and I'd think it should be possible to get a rough conversion going somehow. It doesn't have to be 100% accurate and unshakeable, but there should be some sort of logic behind it.

Hope someone can help or at least give me a nudge in the right direction. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby Tonyblack » Thu May 09, 2013 4:19 pm

I suspect it's not as straightforward as one might imagine and I'm not at all sure how much thought Terry has given to the subject.

I'm going to suggest that the value is going to be about the same as Victorian London at the beginning of the Penny Post as, in Going Postal the cost of sending a letter to anywhere in Ankh-Morpork is one penny. The cost increases as mail moves out of A-M to various other places. I seem to remember that to send a letter to Genua costs AM$1.

I hope that is some help. The books span a considerable time period of Discworld history, so who knows how much the cost has risen/fallen. :?
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Re: Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby lolpaca » Thu May 09, 2013 5:49 pm

According to the National Archives' very handy currency converter, a penny in 1680 at the launch of the Penny Post was worth £0.35 in today's money, which - assuming the AM$ is indeed decimal (don't even get me started on that!) - would make $1 = £35, which is very close to the £40 estimated by that wiki article.

Doing a few more conversions with that, a watchman's salary is £12,600 a year, which sounds about right as, in the early books at least, the watch don't seem to be taken very seriously. And £70 a week to rent an unfurnished room with a ramshackle bed and a broken window also sounds good. Likewise, Dibbler's four pence pies work out to £1.40. And we'll put Vimes' cheap £350 boots down to an attack of whisky... :D

So thanks very much! The Penny Post analogy's just the sort of thing I was looking for (even better when it works out surprisingly well!), and I'll definitely go with that for now. If anyone's got any more ideas I'd still love to hear them though.
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Re: Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby Tonyblack » Thu May 09, 2013 7:07 pm

Actually, I was thinking more of the Uniform Penny Post of 1840. :)

I don't know what that does to your calculations though. :lol:
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Re: Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby Square12 » Thu May 09, 2013 10:28 pm

The last time Vimes bought a pair of boots may well have been before twoflower turned up in AM and started handing out rhinu left right and centre, (not forgetting the creation of the merchants guild and introduction of in-sewer-ants) this would surely have had an impact on the AM economy. As would a large area of the city being destroyed by a courting dragon, the introduction of the clacks, and a serious shift in the racial make up of the city etc. etc.
As previously suggested Sam's taste for Bearhuggers may also have had a bearing, or he may have just been being sarcastic, especially as Sam is known for not liking to wear new boots of any sort cheap or otherwise!
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Re: Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby lolpaca » Thu May 09, 2013 10:31 pm

Eh, pretty much halves it - a penny in 1840 was worth £0.18 according to my friend the National Archives. Some things work out more sensibly, others don't stack up so well (honestly though, with some of these AM$ values I'm starting to think Pratchett just pulled out whatever number he was closest to at the time).

I think I prefer the 1680 explanation as it was for delivery anywhere in London, Southwark and Westminster, and in Going Postal it was anywhere in Ankh-Morpork (as I remember anyway - am I wrong about that?). So it all fits a little more neatly, despite the fact that in 1840 it seems it was actually cheaper in real terms to send letters anywhere in the country.
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Re: Ankh-Morpork dollar - conversion into sterling?

Postby Tonyblack » Fri May 10, 2013 5:53 am

The cost of postage had gotten up to 4d in London but that was without a prepaid stamp. the postman had to collect the money from the person the letter was addressed to. With the introduction of prepaid postage (stamps), the cost was reduced to 1d. The first postage stamp being the Penny Black. This is pretty much mirrored in Going Postal. :)
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