Coin of the realm

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Senior Member
The New England Poetry Caravan paid cash. Coin of the realm for poetry –three hundred up front and three hundred at the end of the tour. The word made flesh, as you might say. But hard cash, it was understood, was only part of the deal.
Source: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
Context: Gard is a poet and makes his living reading poems.

Thank you.
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  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "Coin of the realm" is a very old phrase - Shakespeare used it.

    In the past, there might be many different currencies in a country - foreign money, money issued by each city, etc. In the US in the 1700s and 1800s, there was a lot of "money" issued by private banks. "Coin of the realm" means only the official money issued by the main government (the government of the whole "realm"/country), not any of those others.

    Stephen King uses it here to mean payment in real US dollars, not the many other ways that poets might get "paid" (food, publicity, etc.)
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