Grindaprísir og skinnatal 1584-1638



Published Jan 1, 1996
Arne Thorsteinsson


Price and Assessment of Pilot Whales 1584-1638 The assessment of pilot whales is codified for the first time in the pilot whale regulation of 1832, although contemporary research workers consider the number of „skinns" (standard of value for pilot whale) very old.

This examination aims at analysing the amount of ..skinns" in the pilot whale and its age. The appelations „gyllin" and „skinn" refer to the Faroese monetary units of the Late Middle Ages up to 1790. Originally the number of „skins" was based on an evaluation that was built on the contemporaneous price level. But the price of pilot whale and the number of „skinns" have gradually drifted apart, and the number of „skinns" have become an abstraction which has no connection to the current price but which is founded on an obsolete price level.

Using the accountancy of the administrative officer in the Faroe Islands as the principal source, the entire information on the number as well as the value of all the pilot whales during the period 1584-1638 have been investigated and compared with the lawful distribution of the pilot whale catch.

The conclusion is that in this material we find a price level which is several times as high as the number of „skinns" that we know at the present. whereas the evaluation, i.e. the number of „skinns" of the pilot whale, is neither mentioned directly or indirectly. A conslusion, based on a statement of Lucas Debes (from 1673) which does not mention the evaluation either, is
made that the official evaluation of the pilot whale - and thus the number of „skinns" in the pilot whale - has been fixed during the period 1673-1709.

During the years after 1700 the information on the lawful distribution of the pilot whale catch becomes more extensive and varied. Further research will make it possible to examine how the number of „skinns" is fixed, how the recognized ports for hunting pilot whales gradually are being united and how the notorious social equalization of the distribution springs up.

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