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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

GAME OF COINS

The eighth and final season of Games of Thrones debuts tonight on HBO, so bring on the dragons, the swords, the blood, the gore, the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens and ice zombies, and then prepare to suspend all disbelief because you know nothing, Jon Snow!

Valar Morghulis, indeed.

And as the warring factions in the fantasy drama try to come together and fend off the army of White Walkers, the show and the series of novels upon which it is based have given one Arkansas business a license to make money.

Coins, actually.

Shire Post Mint in Springdale was making officially licensed Game of Thrones coins long before the TV series took off.

The family-run mint was started by avid coin collector and knife-maker Tom Maringer in 2001. Soon, he was making Game of Thrones-inspired coins as "fan art" and caught the eye of George R.R. Martin, author of the novels that inspired the television series, which first aired in 2011. In 2003, Martin licensed Shire Post to make official Game of Thrones coins.

Here's Helen Maringer, Tom's daughter and Shire Post's chief executive officer.

"Tom started making the coins in 2003," she says. "But when the series started airing, he saw an uptick in sales and decided to dedicate more of his time to the coin business and was able to leave his job and focus on that full time."

One of the company's most popular coins is the $14 Iron Coin of the Faceless Man, which in the story was given to Arya Stark by the assassin Jaqen H'ghar and contains the words Valar Morghulis, Valar Dohaeris, Thrones-speak for All Men Must Die, All Men Must Serve.

"I joke that the Iron Coin of the Faceless Man put me through college," Helen Maringer says.

Shire Post is also the official coin-maker for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Kingkiller Chronicle and others.

The Thrones coins are based on Martin's five novels in the series A Song of Ice and Fire -- two more long-awaited novels are forthcoming -- and Martin made sure that Shire Post still had its licensing agreement when he was negotiating with HBO.

"He could have just taken a big check," Maringer says, "but I think he respected what we did and would rather see an artisan product created other than the mass market equivalent."

The company is taking an even deeper dive into the Thrones universe with Pre Conquest Coins of Westeros that represent story lines long before the current events in the TV series.

As the final six episodes of the HBO series are about to drop, Maringer says the coins are getting even more attention.

"We've seen a lot of interest from stores, and I think we'll see more from viewers once it starts airing."

email sclancy@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 04/14/2019

Print Headline: PAPER TRAILS: Arkansas mint makes mint on Thrones

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