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Details about  Iron coin of the Faceless Man, Game of Thrones, Valar Morghulis, Morgulis Martin

The new 6th pressing, Licensed by George R.R Martin!

Iron coin of the Faceless Man, Game of Thrones, Valar Morghulis, Morgulis Martin
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Shire Post Mint

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Springdale, Arkansas, United States
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Last updated on  May 01, 2013 18:32:36 EDT  View all revisions

Item specifics

New: A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item (including handmade items). See the seller's listing ... Read moreabout the condition
Country of Manufacture: United States

For auction:  One Pure Iron "Faceless Man" coin, based on the fantasy series by George R.R. Martin.  Circulated condition,  This example has been struck on newly prepared dies and is from the most recent "sixth pressing" mintage, December 2012.

My name is Tom Maringer. Ten years ago I approached George R.R. Martin about making coins for his mythical realm, and we formalized a licensing agreement to that end. In those days he was just a couple novels into the Song of Ice and Fire series and his books were just starting to be noticed. Today of course they have become immensely popular and have become the subject of the GAME OF THRONES video series by HBO. The license for making these coins predates the Game of Thrones involvement of HBO and there is no influence from them on the design or execution of the coins. This is artisanal work, using real metals and antique methods, not mass produced. 

These coins are made one at a time, by me personally, in my one-man studio here in Arkansas in the central United States, using the same methods as they might have done hundreds of years ago. The pure iron blanks are made by rolling down metallurgical grade high-purity iron bars to an appropriate thickness and punched using an antique manual screw press. The material is difficult to obtain and is now available only through specialty smelters on a custom order basis. This is the same material that German forces substituted for copper and used to make iron coins for occupied countries during WWI and WWII. 

After punching the blanks are then tumbled with fine polishing media to thoroughly clean and deburr them before striking. After striking they go through an elaborate series of treatments to "circulate" them... mechanical tumbling, heating, and chemical treatments that we think emulates the feel and appearance of years of pocket wear. To inhibit rust they are soaked in hot melted pastewax... so that the coin will have a protective coat of wax on them when you receive it. Some variation in color and finish from piece to piece is to be expected. It is difficult to photograph a shiny black object, some of the photos may have a more brown or colored appearance, but that is due to reflected light. The coin is actually black with grayscale highlights. It seems that the more hand-rubbing and handling they get, the better they will look. These are pieces designed to be carried constantly and will develop a beautiful "glow" from continued rubbing with other pocket objects. 

The steel dies are the key tool in any coining effort and these are no exception. This entire sixth pressing of exactly three thousand coins has been done using a newly hobbed set of dies. The original master dies for this coin were created the late Greg-Franck-Weiby, one of the world's foremost direct-engravers of fantasy coin dies. There had been five previous pressings of this coin. All five used the same handcut master dies. Minor variations in weight, finish, and registration can distinguish them. The sixth pressing coins now being shipped`are in medallic registration, meaning that you flip the coin side-to-side to view the reverse. Total mintage to date of all pressings combined is just 6,600 pieces. As I am editing this (December 31, 2012) the final coins of the 6th pressing are being struck, using the newly dies that include the silent "h" in the word "morghulis". 

The obverse facing portrait is intentionally vague, since the Faceless Man is a secretive guild of assassins who have learned the most elaborate and advanced methods of disguise such that they can actually change the look of their faces at will without appliances or makeup, simply by extremely precise and conscious control of the facial muscles, plus a bit of magick.  Greg was adamant that in order for the coin to match the description in the book, the portrait must be facing the viewer. A sideways "profile" image is too easily recognized, even when the coin is very worn, which is why the vast majority of real-world coin portraits are done in profile. The reverse of the coin features the written out phrase "Valar Morghulis, Valar Dohaeris" which roughly translates as "All Men Must Die, All Men Must Serve".  The central figure on reverse is an encipherment of the acronym for the above. In practice, this is not a monetary coin at all in the standard sense, but rather, a recognition token! As it is used in the stories... if someone hands you this coin and says "Valar Morghulis"  then you had best respond with the right words and do whatever they ask... on pain of death! One of the principal early characters in the series is Arya Stark, who obtains and uses one of these coins in the course of her adventures. When she first obtains it she does not understand its significance nor why people react so strongly to it, but she learns these things along with us as we follow the story. (no spoilers here, you'll have to read the story!)

In the real-world of GAME OF THRONES fandom these coins are being used as recognition tokens as well... not for nefarious purposes of course,  but more along the lines of a "Challenge Coin".  So for instance, if you are at a party at a science-fiction convention and you show someone this coin and say the words... they can: a) fail to respond, in which case you know they're not a GOT fan... or: b) they can recognize the piece and say the correct words, in which case it's their turn to buy drinks... or: c) they can show you their own coin in turn, in which case it's YOUR turn to buy the drinks. All in good fun! The coin weighs about six grams and is about the diameter of a Sacagewea dollar coin. (26mm, slightly over one inch)

The coin will come in an archival vinyl "flip" with a printed insert. I also include an information sheet about the coin and a signed note from me which may serve as a "certificate of authenticity" for those concerned about such things. 

Shipping is $2 in US by first class mail with delivery confirmation. Regular first-class parcel international shipping is $7. I will gladly combine shipping for multiple purchases, so no extra charges unless special services are required. Express mail shipping is recommended internationally because it includes insurance and tracking. 

As always... check my other auctions... and have fun! Really I mean it. If it's not fun it's not worth the bother. There are also lots of other interdimensional artyfacts at at my website and online store. Google it!  Shire Post Mint. Tom Maringer


Addendum added Thurday July 19:

 In response to question I see that I did not specify the exact size of the piece with sufficient precision. The blanks are punched at 1.000" diameter (25.4mm) through material rolled to 0.059" thick (1.5mm), but due to spreading on the die the coin actually measures ~1.050" in diameter and  ~0.063" thickness in decimal inches, the equivalent of 26.7mm diameter and 1.6mm thick. Yes that is not a mistake... the coin got thicker! it seems counterintuitive, but a coin may gain in both diameter AND thickness on striking. Note that thickness is measured with a micrometer across the high spots and does not denote an average thickness across the area. Strikeup under many tons of pressure can actually increase the thickness across the highest spots of the design.


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Item location: Springdale, Arkansas, United States
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