Coins of the 'Verse...


Sr Member
Even though philippes's ENVY thread was about MalÂ’s pistol, it gave us a good look at some of the currency used in the FIREFLY 'Verse.

Since IÂ’ve always liked old coins, the ones in PhilÂ’s post intrigued me. Just for fun, I enlarged the coin section of the "beauty" shot, did a quick search on eBay, and quickly IDed a coin---#8, the "junk" coin.

After a couple of hours I had identified 2 or 3 more, so I bid on them and managed to win the auctions; this started a 3 month obsession to compile a complete & accurate set. IÂ’ve been mostly successful; there are a couple of coins that I havenÂ’t been able to find exact matches for, but IÂ’m pretty much satisfied with what I've got.

Based on scaling the coins with my PAL comm unit, the coins are 1.5" in diameter (+ or- a hair), except for #16, which is 1.75".

As a bit of general background, the currency used in the world of FIREFLY is very similar to the money used in the American Old West; large-sized bank notes and big metal coins. In most episodes, Mal & Co are paid with bags of coins that usually have a folded wad of bank notes crammed in.

It appears that the coins used on the show are from the Chinese Republic period, around 1890s-1930s. Very cool coins, about 1.5" diameter, or roughly the size of an American silver dollar. IÂ’ve seen them referred to as "trade dollars", and some are even labeled "ONE DOLLAR".

This was a period when China was "Westernizing" and many of the coins have a very "American Civil War" look to them---portraits of men in military uniforms, crossed flags, etc. Other coins have more traditional Asian motifs on themÂ…. dragons, bamboo, etc. All in all, a good match to WheadonÂ’s vision of the future.

NOTE: I want to note that none of these are screen or production used—the coins in my pics are ones that I’ve purchased off eBay based on researching screencaps and the "beauty" pic posted in the ENVY thread. Phil was able to offer some additional info, and graciously gave me permission to use his "beauty" pic—thanks. :)

I should also point out that although I bought these in good faith as "old coins", it turns out they're counterfeits. I took a few in to a coin dealer, and he went ballistic on me, complaining about how the Chinese are flooding the collecting market with cheap knockoffs and screwing people out of money, and how I should call the district attorney about prosecuting, etc.

I would guess that the production team also used replica/counterfeit coins since originals can be expensive; I just hope they didnÂ’t get yelled at for buying themÂ…. :rolleyes

Anytime I refer to a coinÂ’s "number", itÂ’s from the cropped ENVY pic posted later in this thread--IÂ’ve added numbers to it, along with some info about each coin.

The one instance I can find where coins were actually seen on-screen (instead of just heard clinking in a pouch), is in the episode SAFE. I was able to pull some caps that show off one coin perfectly, and 2 others, not so good (but I'm 90% sure I've nailed them based on the ENVY pic :D ).

Here are the screencaps I was able to grab of the coins---the “fatman” (#13) is pretty obvious, but the other two are more questionable. I believe the dark colored one is the #7 copper coin, while the other is the very rare #9.



This gives a better look at the final set of coins (updated 11/24/05):


This is the cropped ENVY image I mentioned earlier; below that are my coins laid on top of a printout of the ENVY pic:



UPDATE 10/2/2005:</span> Just got another coin I thought would be better for #14, but in the comparison images, both coins look pretty good.... :unsure

<img src=\'\' border=\'0\' alt=\'user posted image\' />

Of course, it’s nice to have something to keep them in—thanks CC. :)

<img src=\'\' border=\'0\' alt=\'user posted image\' />

<span style=\'color:red\'>A very special thanks to Fried Mon Calamari for hosting all of these big pics.

Here are links to the best screencaps I could find of the bank notes--these are from THE TRAIN JOB, SHINDIG, and WAR STORIES. A little different from the movie bills....

THE TRAIN JOB screencaps

SHINDIG screencaps

WAR STORIES screencaps

[edit by Treadwell to change topic description only]
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Kerr Avon

Master Member
Nice paper money there.

BTW, is it really necessary to have a picture of your stitches as an avatar? Looks pretty ugly, might scar up even.


Master Member
Thanks. The mylar isn't as supple as acetate, but it does the trick for me.

Necessary? No, I wouldn't use the word necessary. It will scar something fierce, unfortunately. Ragged cut from the X-Acto blade netted me seven stitches.

Edit - I'll play nice. Changed it.

Kerr Avon

Master Member
Originally posted by moffeaton@Sep 20 2005, 11:49 PM
Necessary? No, I wouldn't use the word necessary. It will scar something fierce, unfortunately. Ragged cut from the X-Acto blade netted me seven stitches.
Edit - I'll play nice. Changed it.

Ah very nice. Glad I didn't throw in the towel or anything.


Master Member
Mal's gun changes a little bit too - I was told when it came time to make the film, they used a different prop house for the gun. The original place wanted more to rent out the series pistol than the other place quoted to MAKE new ones.


Master Member
the only main change on the new pistol is the weird little bit under the barrell in the front, its more of a box now than the thin rounded piece.


Well-Known Member
Interesting. The coins look great. Nice score.

The money looks fantastic.

Movie money is always keen but these really look great.


fried mon calamari

Well-Known Member
I told you before, but killer job on ID'ing those.

I know it must have taken a good amount of late night hunting to get those all dialed in.

They look right shiny in person too. :D


Sr Member
Originally posted by Captain Carter@Oct 1 2005, 12:48 AM
Brian hooked me to the series now.  I taped the show tonight as well.  The coins and the money are beautiful.  Great job.  ;)

Then my work here is done.... :lol Glad you like the show--the moive is incredible. :)

Thanks again for the pouch, it makes a nice display for the coins (even grubbied up ;) ).


Sr Member
Brian -

Do you think that you could post a list of the coins (year, etc.) that you've found to be used? It'll sure help those of us searching to maek a display of these.


Sr Member
Originally posted by Darkknight0667@Oct 1 2005, 03:03 PM
Brian -

Do you think that you could post a list of the coins (year, etc.) that you've found to be used?  It'll sure help those of us searching to maek a display of these.

To be honest, I bought a book to try and get "official" IDs on the coins, but haven't sat down and gone over them. Most of the eBay sellers don't use the technical name, and many of these are fantasy coins with no legitimate designation that I know of. I mainly went by what they looked like compared to the ENVY image.

Sorry, that's not much help is it? :confused I'll try and get some more detailed info up soon.

This is what my set looks like--if you search eBay in the coins section, and compare them to this pic, you'll find many of them.:

Thanks to Fried Mon Calamari for pic hosting. :)
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A few of the other auction sites deal with coins too. Unfortunately like ToothTech has mentioned even the sellers are using different names and descriptions. IÂ’ve managed to ascertain about half of the coins needed so far. Watch out for over inflated shipping costs and remember just because a seller might only have one up for sale it doesnÂ’t mean he hasnÂ’t got a bucket of them at home. :unsure

ToothTech great detective job, very much appreciated. :D


Sr Member
Would it be worth looking into casting sets of these coins? I'd like to have some of the coins but wouldn't have time to search around for each individual one. Or perhaps if someone can collect a bunch of them they could sell some sets?


Sr Member
First post updated with this same info ;)

Found another #14 coin that looks about as good as the others.... :unsure


Thanks to Fried Mon Calamari for pic hosting. :)

Big news though, is that thanks to help & encouragement from Osmotic and dr_slurpee, I've realized that I was totally off base with the #16 coin. I finally got around to scaling the coins from my PAL comm, and discovered that #16 is only 1.75" in diameter, not the 2" I was using earlier. This led to the accurate coin jumping up and punching me square in the face. :lol

My apologies to anyone who's bought one of the 2" coins based on this thread... :$
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Legendary Member
Currency split off.

Thank you for this thread... a friend of mine went to China recently and I sent him some of these pics. He got about a dozen really cool coins for me--some matching the screenused, others just similar. Very cool. :)

I don't have them yet but here are pics he made for me:




Master Member
YO, as someone who is really turned on by deep-research related props, I've gotta say that this is one hell of a thread. Great work to all of the folks who rounded these up, especially the dude who started this thread. I'm truly stunned by all the hard work that went into this.

now if only I could get a set for myself :)
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