The narrator introduces itself as a genuine 22-carat gold coin drawn by Stork at the coffeehouse. In the past month, Stork has earned 47 gold coins, the most of all the miniaturists. Before money played such a significant role in the lives of the miniaturists, they would fight over who was the most talented; however, now that there is an objective measure, the workshop is more harmonious. The coin lists the various things that it can buy, from 10 jugs of wine to an hour with a young male prostitute. The coin asks if it can tell a secret, and reveals that it is not in fact a genuine 22-carat coin but a counterfeit made in Venice. The coin comments that it’s ironic that the Venetians paint in a realist style yet make fake coins. The coin has been in circulation for seven years, most of which has spent in Istanbul; it has changed hands 560 times. During this time, it has heard many people denounce greed and materialism, yet it is confident that most people truly love money. The coin describes all the places in Istanbul its been, from the asshole of a thief to the lips of a maiden. He mentions “the gilder, no longer among us” who would arrange his coins into “various designs.” The coin concludes his speech by saying that he is now in the purse of the best miniaturist, Stork, and if anyone wants to dispute this, they should try get the coin for themselves.
The coin’s narrative is one of the most humorous parts of the novel, yet it also highlights several serious and important themes. Having been produced in Venice and sent to Istanbul, the coin resembles an explorer who travels to a distant land and reports back on what it sees. As the coin boasts, it visits every part of Istanbul, and thus has a privileged insight into Istanbul society. One of the most remarkable aspects of the coin’s narrative is its descriptions of the intimate relationship the people of Istanbul have to money. The coin describes being kissed by maidens and being lovingly arranged into different designs by Elegant, emphasizing the idea that even though people denounce greed in public, in private they love and treasure their money to the point of obsession. Finally, the coin’s statements about the miniaturists are rather facetious. Can it really be the case that the fixation with money has made the workshop more harmonious?