Calman’s Bandwood, known colloquially as the Coin Tree, is a species of tree grown exclusively in the country of Ansland. That second name, by which the vast majority of people know it, comes from the fact that its wood is used to mint money in Ansland and in its neighboring countries.
Calman’s Bandwood is a cultivated species developed by agriculturists employed by Rustarc Calman, who fell in love with the grain of the wood of natural Bandwoods and expressed his desire for something even more dramatic. Initially, he wished to have the furniture in his home made from the wood so that he would be able to brag about his uniqueness to his peers.
Unfortunately, though Bandwoods grow quickly and Calman’s Bandwood grows even faster, the process of refining the trees into what we have today took more years than Rustarc Calman had left. He passed away before he was able to realize his dream. In his honor, his children did have a set of furniture made, including a bed, a dining table, a cabinet, and more. These are the only legal existing objects made from Calman’s Bandwood, and they are on display in the museum maintained by the Librarians in Temmens.
Various properties Calman’s Bandwood drew the interest of other parties; namely, the Banker’s Guild, who had been struggling to come up with a system of minting money that did not produce results which were easily counterfeit. The unique grain of the Calman’s Bandwood intrigued them. It made the material itself distinct, unlike gold, silver, or paper. The fact that Calman’s Bandwood existed in limited quantities, at the time, meant that they could easily take control over the entirety of the resource.
The Banker’s Guild bought the land which had once belonged to the Calman family. The Calmans had never sold any Bandwoods, nor their seeds or saplings, so this purchase resulted in the Banker’s Guild having a complete monopoly. By quick action of the Lawmakers, it immediately became illegal for entities other than the Bankers to own specimens of the Calman’s Bandwood or to harvest or work its wood.
Calman’s Bandwood is a flowering tree that grows wide and short. For its height, which in fully mature specimens rarely reaches above ten feet, Calman’s Bandwood has a very thick trunk. Its leaves are a deep, rich orange, with a smooth surface. They are oblong ovals with smooth edges.
Every three months, the Calman’s Bandwood flowers, producing large, single-petal blooms which are pink toward their edges and violet at their hearts. There are those who trade in these flowers, for they are seen not only as exceedingly lovely, but also as a mark of wealth. The Banker’s Guild does not sell them directly, because even though owning them is not strictly illegal, planting the seeds within them is.
It takes just under two years for a Calman’s Bandwood to reach a size where it can be harvested for carving into coins. Were it not for its fast growth, the model by which the Bankers operate would likely be far less feasible. After all, when the Coin Tree is taken for its wood, the entire tree is taken down. Unlike a farmer taking the fruit from a tree, once the Coin Tree’s goods are taken, a whole new tree must be grown to replace it.
Luckily, coinage doesn’t enter and exit the system nearly as quickly as fruit. The wood of the Calman’s Bandwood is carved into rectangular coins of various sizes, depending on its denomination. It is then polished and lacquered, which both increases the durability and makes its grain even more noticeable. Even when unpolished, the grain stands out, resembling a fingerprint or ripples in water, in alternating bands of light and dark.
In order to maintain their monopoly on the Calman’s Bandwood, which in turn ensures the security of Ansland’s financial system, the Bankers work closely with the Lawkeepers. The Lawkeepers maintain a special unit specifically for keeping the integrity of the Bandwood coinage, which uses trained dogs and birds in order to locate flowering Bandwoods that might be illegal. Offending trees are either burned down or, in the rare case of large, successful groves, simply claimed by the Bankers when the previous owners are jailed.
The Burn Unit of the Lawkeepers has acquired special jurisdiction in three of the four countries bordering Ansland. This capacity was required in the treaties signed between Ansland and each of those countries when they began using the Bandwood monetary system. Eidena, Shyr, and Sorevald all permit members of the L.B.U freely into their countries, with hardly more limitations than those imposed on them in their own country.
Tavan, the fourth country bordering Ansland, has neither taken to using Ansland’s money nor agreed to permit the L.B.U. across their borders. Diplomatic talks between the Tavan Government and Ansland’s Lawkeepers have led only to promises from Tavan that they will help to uphold the Banker’s monopoly on the Calman’s Bandwood.
Lawkeeper ambassadors have spoken before the Tavan Senate, encouraging them to pass laws officially banning the growth of the Calman’s Bandwood in their country, but they have been unsucessful thus far. The only thing supporting enforcement within Tavan is the Treaty of Mutual Respect, signed by Tavan’s previous chancellor, which states that, up to a certain threshold, they will respect the laws of their neighboring countries so long as it does not negatively affect them.
This has caused some tension between the two countries, though it has not yet escalated into conflict. Tavan is being pressured, if not to adopt Ansland coinage, then at least to allow the presence of Anslandish L.B.U.s in their country. Ansland isn’t the only one applying the pressure, either, as Eidena, Shyr, and Sorevald all have a stake in the integrity of Anslandish currency.
If the Banker’s Guild can’t maintain control of the Calman’s Blackwood, four countries will enter a period of financial crisis. As a result, the Coin Tree is one of the most important trees in all of Cerne, despite the fact that not a single specimen exists in the wild.