The Fiefdom Shilling (FSh) is the currency of the Serene Democratic People's Fiefdom. A shilling consists of 100 cents (100 cents= 1 FSh) and is issued by the Central Bank of the Fiefdom.
The history of currency in the old Aztec Empire is, for the most part, a history of standardization and not coinage. The band of sycophants, religious zealots and the adventurous that fled with Huitzilíhuitl II to Otiacicoh brought with them a system of economy that was still largely barter-based. Strict rules did exist for the enforcement of a nation-wide system of courts and inspectors from the Pochteca merchant class, but a great deal of variation existed in the nature of those items used for exchange and the rates of exchange between them.
By far the most famous form of Aztec currency used in the Empire was Cocoa beans. These beans formed the lowest form of ‘’currency’’ available and were largely used in those transactions that could not be resolved quickly or simply via a process of mutually-accepted bartering. Some economic historians have argued that the difference in price between certain common items in the Aztec and the Otiacicoh Empires reflect the different ecological systems of the two empires. Though the early settlers did have the good sense to bring cocoa plants to the island that would later form the Fiefdom, these did not grow as well in Otiacicoh’s more temperate climate, causing a monetary restriction that reduced growth during the first few years. Eventually, however, sufficient numbers of cocoa plants could be grown to allow for a degree of economic autarky when Tenochtitlan fell in 1521.
It would not be until the advent of modern coinage during the mid-19th century that Cocoa beans would lose their place as the mode of exchange for the majority of economic affairs within the Empire. In homage to this, however, the new coins were dubbed ‘cocoas’ and possessed an image of the bean on the reserve.
The next forms of currency above the ubiquitous beans were Quachtli. Primarily used for transactions involving items of a more expensive nature, these were lengths of cloth cape that were used in the same manner as woolen capes were used in Saga-era Iceland. Sources differ on the rate of exchange between Quachtli capes and Cocoa beans, some putting the rate at 100 beans per cape and others at 300 beans. It seems likely, therefore, that each major city within the Empire possessed a different rate of exchange, the complexity of which cemented the need for a hereditary mercantile class, the Pochteca, for any manner of long-distance trade,
Other transactions, again of a more expensive variety, might involve the use of luxury items, such as copper axe blades and quills filled with gold dust. The variety of currency available to the Aztec merchant, along with the opaque nature of exchanges, served to create a powerful counterfeit industry that flourished despite the persistent attempts of the Pochteca to stop this.
The complicated and antiquated though the above system was, the isolation of the Empire allowed for this system to survive until the first waves of European immigration began during the mid-nineteenth century. Modern practices of coinage and paper money quickly demonstrated the need for currency reform. Reform began during the later years of the reign of Moctezuma V and was carried on following his death by the reforming Cihuacoatl Chimalli. His reforms produced a system that, while adopting the names and symbols of the old order, was a thoroughly modern currency.
Under the new system, which used a gold as a stable of exchange for the first time, organized the ‘Cocoa’ as a lower form of currency. These coins were issued in twelve, sixteen and twenty-one values, each bearing the number of the coin in Nahuatl on one side along with a picture of the bean. The reserve was consisted of a profiled picture of the reigning emperor.
The some 42 of the new Cocoa coins made up a single Quachtli, which was represented either in a large gold-coloured coin or in a note system, with notes being issued in 5, 10, 20 and 50 denominations. The Imperial Treasury possessed, in reserve, a number of higher denomination notes that could be issued in the event of hyperinflation. This hyperinflation, thankfully, never occurred but the Empire’s economic collapse during the Great Depression did all but extinguish the Cocoa as a meaningful currency. It was to eventually replaced with the Communist Shilling.
Historians and contemporaries have often wondered about the precise origins of the new currency, the Shilling, since it is a word that is completely alien to Otiacicoh. Nor, does it appear, do the Communist Party know themselves since records of the period remain very sketchy in places. All that is known is that the issuing of the Shilling was the first primary act of the new Revolutionary government, with a generous exchange rate of 1 shilling per Quachtli being offered. Despite this, though, the old currency was to remain in circulation in certain remote areas until a sustained effort was made in the 1970s to remove it.
The new currency also saw decimalisation for the first time. Despite recent political liberalisation, the economy of the Fiefdom is still primarily a state-planned one and, as a result, the Government of the Fiefdom continues to dictate the value of the Shilling as opposed to market forces.
The Central Bank of the Fiefdom issues 7 ‘’usual’’ denominations of coinage, with an additional one being issued solely for commemorative events. The ‘day-to-day’ coinage consists of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins together with a 1 Shilling coin. The first five denominations are made from copper, the 50-cent coin from a silver-coloured nickel/copper composite and the 1 Sh coin from a gold-coloured nickel-brass alloy. Each coin carries a section of the national crest on one face (being the hammer and sickle with the four stars) with the words ‘Serene Democratic People’s Fiefdom’ encircling this in both English and Nahuatl (half the coins being minted placing English as the language atop the face, the other half with Nahuatl in this position). The reverse of the 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 coins show an artistic representation of the Cocoa bean and the coin’s value, the 50 cent coin shows the National People’s Soviet building and the older 1 Sh coin the head of Comrade General Secretary Noel Hoogaboom (hence the origin of the name ‘Uncle Noel’ Shilling in popular thinking. The true name of the currency is simply the Fiefdom Shilling). The new edition of the 1 Sh coin possesses the profiled portrait of the Emperor, Amacui-Xolotl, though there are no plans to put the Emperor's portrait on any other coin or banknote.
The coinage of the Fiefdom has had a less than sedate history in the past twenty years, becoming all but worthless under the economic slump following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Jokes at the time commented that the value of the Shilling had risen so high during the years of inflation that the metal to make the coins cost was now greater than the coins’ worth. The opening of state archives has confirmed that this was more than an idle joke. The improved economic situation after the Millennium has prompted the re-minting of Fiefdom coinage.
A special 5Sh coin is occasionally minted by the Central Bank, though this is reserved solely for commemorative occasions and rarely used as a form of actual currency. The 5 Shilling coin is often highly-polished and comprises a cupro-nickel composite. The coin consists of a detailed engraving of the full national crest on one face, with a scene devoted to a commemorative nature on the other face. Recent examples of those events deemed worthy of a 5 Shilling Coin are the 50th Anniversary of the Fiefdom in 2003 and the 80th Birthday of Uncle Noel in 2005.
There are five denominations of Shilling paper notes; the 5 Shilling note (5Sh), the 10 Shilling note (10Sh), the 20 Shilling note (20Sh), the 50 Shilling note (50Sh-see picture) and the exceedingly rare 100 Shilling note (100Sh).
Fiefdom paper money consists of a portrait of a leading Communist or international figure on one face with the National Coat of Arms and a scene of Fiefdom life or a commemorative scene on the other. The 5 Shilling note, for example, has a portrait of Karl Marx on one face (hence the popular colloquial expression ‘Lend us a Marxie’) and a scene commemorating the landing of Huitzilíhuitl II in 1514.
The 10 Shilling note has a portrait of Comrade Noel Hoogaboom on one side, with the other being dedicated to the famous Declaration of Zolton that prohibited human sacrifice in the Empire and was the first major attempt at modernisation.
The 20 Shilling note has a portrait of Sister Margaret Shaftesbury whose work among the poor of both communities in Port Sunlight has, in recent years, become inspirational. The reverse is a montage of a scene of the city of Hoogaboom-Tepoztlan, a massive Magnitogorsk-like steel town that symbolises the importance of the Fiefdom's heavy industry.
The 50 Shilling note (pictured) features the portrait of Frederick Engels, the co-founder of Communism along side Karl Marx. The reverse of the 50 Shilling note is a picture of a family in a Zagreb People's Car while talking on an early car-radio system. This represents the importance of the telecommunications industry and of consumer goods in the Fiefdom, or did so at least in the late 1970s when the note was designed.
The 100 Shilling note (also pictured), which is rarely seen due to its great value, features the portrait of Emperor Nopalxochitl. Though it may seem odd for a former monarch to appear on Communist money (though no more strange than an African dictator), Nopalxochitl consistantly tops many polls of the nation's favourite monarch and/or historical character. The reverse of this, rather fittingly, is a scene of the Emperor's historic victory over his enemies in the Second War of the Madonna.