The Shire Post
Middle Earth was the creation of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (b. 03rd Jan 1892 - d. 02nd Sep 1973) as the location of the epic The Lord of Rings. The races, language and genealogy he created as a base for the characters in the story have given generations of readers fertile ground for exploration into the world of fantasy. Called a trilogy, it is really six books, and for a fuller story one must add The Hobbit as well as The Silmarillion. Inspired by the rich texture of such a fantasy world, Tom Maringer [2692 Powell Street, Springdale, AR 72764, USA. website: email:], has taken but three mentions of coinage system not only for the Hobbits, but also for many of the other races in the book such as the immortal elves, the sturdy dwarf lords, the hardy horsemen and even the folk from the far south who use strange elephantine beasts in war and commerce. On his website, Marringer has changed the names of the folk who use these coin types from those used in the Lord of Rings.
From Erik. V. McCrea website regarding The Shire Post:
The Shire Post (which “provides an interdimensional mailing service”) had its beginnings, with philately and stamps, in 1987. Its very first Halfling/Shaire coins, also Hobbit-themed, were made in June of 2001, when its founder, Tom Maringer, chanced upon an old antique manual coining press. Those initial pieces were marked “SR 1401” (S.R. signifies Shire Reckoning, the calendar used by the Hobbits of The Shire, a region of Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth). Starting with the 2nd series, he partnered with another talented engraver named Oswald Oaklif. Creating coins has now become the main activity of the Shire Post, and the varieties of coins Mr. Maringer now offers has greatly expanded. After the “SR 1403” series (struck in 2003), numerous “‘Outlandish’ coins from other realms of Middle Earth (Gondor, Arnor, Mordor, Dale, Angband, Moria, Isengard, Harad, Rohan, Erebor, Hollin etc.) soon followed, in various materials and with design features appropriate to the culture of the issuing people.” These realms are separate from “The Land of the Halflings” — far beyond the bounds of “The Shayre” — and are collectively referred to as “the ‘outlands’ (meaning any land outside those of normal halfling folk)”. Over the years, the coinage of the Shire Post Mint has become extremely popular, to the point of even inspiring a counterfeiter, who “is known to be currently operating in Germany, casting coins from molds cloned from the die-struck originals.”
The Shire Post is “devoted to the premise that fantasy is a useful tool in growing our own personalities” and everyday artifacts such as coins “can bolster our ‘sense of place’ and transport us more fully into these realms of thought.” The Mint approaches each coin “as IF it were from the period…rather than an obviously modern coin celebrating a past event.” Each coin/token “conceivably could have existed had history gone just a little bit differently.” For Mr. Maringer — as well as for a growing number of numismatists — “The term ‘fantasy coin’ is a technically precise term in numismatics…referring to items that appear to be a [bona-fide] coin, but which were not actually issued by any real-world authority as a medium of exchange. For our purposes however, we extend the use of the term a bit further…to cover coinages FROM fantasy worlds, including those which are” based on literature, contemporary fiction, ancient mythology, chronicled happenings, “and even coin fantasies that comemmorate historical events that might-have-been…places that surely somehow exist in the infinite multiverse! You will not find coins bearing the images of film characters here…but rather the coins that those characters might have been carrying in their pocketses! The premise of this effort is that coins provide for us a TACTILE sense of time and place…something we can touch and handle. It is to this goal of making history, mythology, and fantasy seem more real that we dedicate our labors.” What is the purpose of it all? “This is all for fun and enjoyment! Shire Post coins are used to lend a sense of tangibility and realism to the fantasy worlds of the imagination. There is a sense of place that comes with jingling some coins in your pocket.”
Mr. Maringer ( Will Whitfoot (Mayor/Postmaster/Mintmaster) is his “alter ego, my Hobbitly personna if you will.” The Mint's most resplendent piece to date might well be the Silver Daler of New Dal, which pertains to the Realms of Men (Middle Earth/Outlands) series. Its remarkable beauty is a direct result of the timely collaboration between Mr. Maringer and the great Mr. Greg Franck-Weiby, who invested over 340 hours of meticulous hard work towards the finely detailed engraving of its dies.
It should be noted that Mr. Maringer has always been careful to respectfully alter — at times just slightly — the copyrighted names (settings, characters) pertaining to the books of Tolkien. This applies not only to The Shire, but to the other unique regions of Middle Earth categorized as the “Outlands” (for example: “Rowan” for Rohan, “Dal Tun” for the town of Dale, “New Dal” for New Dale, “Palan Haraud” for Far Harad, “King Eleussar” for King Elessar). He has done this in order to steer clear of any unforeseeable lawyerly woes. As a devoted and well-intentioned fan (he “first read Tolkien beginning in 1970”), Mr. Maringer passionately produced a beautiful array of Tolkien-inspired pieces. For about 6 years, he clearly enriched our hobby with his gifted artistry. He added something beautiful to our world. Whilst detailing the history of his venture in an earlier version of a text entitled “The Development of Shire Post as a real-world hobby and it's growth into a community”, Mr. Maringer wrote: “From the beginning in 1987, this has all been a rather elaborate hobby, created for the purpose of making the fantasy come alive by making simple everyday artifacts that one might have encountered in Middle-Earth, and it was all done with a deep respect and an immense love for the body of work created by Professor Tolkien. I anticipated little outside interest in this fantasy coinage…aside from a few friends and the people who were interested in the stamps I was already making. I felt that I was rather foolishly spending a lot of money on equipment and supplies, and that I would probably just make a few coins at great expense that I could play with and share with a few friends…and that would be that. But it soon became clear that there was a lurking latent interest in such things…after I published photos of some of my first pieces on my website folks began to chase me down seeking to obtain these items. Many hundreds of people have thanked me for creating these items and enabling them to further deepen their enjoyment of Tolkien's Middle Earth by adding the simple tactical ‘sense of place’ that a common-place everyday object like a coin can provide. It became clear to me that the potential market was huge and that this hobby had the potential to become a real business and I became concerned about the possibility of copyright problems. At this point I began to seek contact with copyright holders for the Tolkien Works in order to obtain their blessings and move forward. I initially sought to make contact with the Tolkien heirs, but then found that Professor Tolkien had sold many of his merchandizing copyrights to Saul Zaentz (Tolkien Enterprises) years ago. In February of 2002 I shut down Shire Post and sent a formal licensing proposal offering a percentage of proceeds, and including samples of coins and stamps and postmarked envelopes to Laurie Battle, licensing director at Tolkien Enterprises. On March 4, someone at their office signed the postal receipt for the proposal. I waited. For three months I waited, calling and leaving messages occasionally, with no response whatever. After three months, with people pounding at my door to obtain coins and stamps, I started making and selling them again, trusting in my hope that a licensing agreement would soon be arranged and that all would be well. Nine more months would pass without substantive word from Tolkien Enterprises. My naiive hopes were shattered on Febrary 27th 2003, just five days short of a year from the time that I sent in my proposal, when Annette Hurst, attorney for Tolkien Enterprises, sent me an email very bluntly stating that Tolkien Enterprises rejects my proposal outright (with no offer or attempt to negotiate terms) AND that they also demand that I immediately ‘cease and desist’ all commerce related to what they refer to as ‘infringing’ activities. In a following email and in very haughty terms she informed me that I was ‘in no position’ to ask for anything, and that Tolkien Enterprises had no legal obligation to review or consider my proposal either now or ever, but that I DID have a legal obligation to immediately cease any and all of the allegedly ‘infringing’ activities.” On March 4th, he continued this train of thought: “So now what? To say that I am disappointed is a paltry description of how I feel. Is this what we have come to in this world? Is this the legacy Professor Tolkien would have wished for us? If the standard of human interaction is to be only what is legally obligatory, then the dark powers have won.” On March 6th, he added an addendum: “It has come to my attention that The Iron Crown of Morgoth, being based in The Silmarillion, is NOT infringing on any rights held by Tolkien Enterprises. Therefore the Online Store, while nearly eviscerated compared to previously, will reopen with a mundane map compilation of Washington County Arkansas, and the Iron Crown of Morgoth, coin of the ancient enemy of the elves, as the sole available products. It takes a wry sense of humor to appreciate that the only coin I can sell based in the Tolkien Mythos is the one representing the most truly evil character that ever existed in that world.” Unfortunately, on August 1, 2007, a heavy-hearted Mr. Maringer posted a very sorrowful message at his Web-site: “Due to legal action by attorneys claiming to represent Saul Zaentz Corporation, (doing business as Tolkien Enterprises), Shire Post has been forced to remove all references to the works of professor Tolkien from this website. Our online store will be shutting down completely as of the end of August 2007. The website will remain in place, but will no longer have any connection to the works of the professor.”
The Shire Post Mint's well-designed, fun-to-explore Web-site is:
Chiefa Coins