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Large amounts don't grow on trees

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Bilbo Baggins lived the life of a rich bachelor having inherited wealth from Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took but he also lived a long life. How did he invest his wealth?
The West Farthing Bank or part ownership of The Green Dragon or The Mill?
 

ArwenStar

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Maybe he...
  • Bought hobbiton?
  • Bought large amounts of food/beer/pipe weed?
  • Donated to charity?
  • Bought some Mathoms?
  • Buried it in the ground?
  • Maybe he would want the Green Dragon?
  • Or maybe he just gave it to Frodo?
 

Olorgando

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Ah, no, this is clearly still a time when money was limited to coins. Higher denominations might have been ingots of (semi-) precious metals, gems and stuff like that Barter was also probably quite wide-spread. The "natural bankers" of the time would probably have been the Dwarves - though they have more than just a touch of Scrooge McDuck to them.
Hmmmmm. What would the dragons then represent?😎

OK, all of this is about, as far as I can tell, the time before "there and back again". After that, Bilbo had quite a tidy hoard from Erebor, as well as some of the stuff from the Trolls' hoard (or did he give all of that to Gandalf?). After the expected party, what was left most likely went to Frodo, as Bilbo's heir.
 

Alcuin

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Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
We know what Bilbo did with his share of the trolls’ hoard. Cf. this dialogue between Merry and Frodo in “Flight to the Ford” from Fellowship of the Ring:

“There!” said Merry. “That must be the stone that marked the place where the trolls’ gold was hidden. How much is left of Bilbo’s share, I wonder, Frodo?”

Frodo looked at the stone, and wished that Bilbo had brought home no treasure more perilous, nor less easy to part with. “None at all,” he said. “Bilbo gave it all away. He told me he did not feel it was really his, as it came from robbers.”
So nothing was left of the trolls’ hoard. As for the treasure he received from Smaug’s hoard, Bilbo took “only … two small chests, one filled with silver, and the other with gold, such as one strong pony could carry.” (The Hobbit, “The Return Journey”) We know that Bilbo also gave the Elvenking “a necklace of silver and pearls that Dáin had given him at their parting,” (ibid.) so it is possible that Bilbo received some other small token of appreciation; but if so, he was unlikely to part with it, and there was surely no market in the North outside Lindon in which he could convert even the necklace of pearls into any substantial wealth.

Bilbo was already independently wealthy or well-to-do (not wealthy but not worried about money) before his great adventure with Thorin & Co. That probably consisted mostly of land and property: the residents of Bagshot Row likely rented from him (though perhaps the Gaffer was allowed to live for free or at a reduced rate: some arrangement was likely struck between gardener’s pay and rent) and agricultural property. He might, perhaps have owned and rented out property in Hobbiton, or even have inherited from his mother some modest stipend from the Tooks (or not, depending upon arrangements in Hobbit society in the Shire). By the end of The Hobbit when Gandalf and Balin came to visit, “Mr. Baggins’ waistcoat was more extensive (and had real gold buttons).”

The Fellowship of the Ring begins by relating that Bilbo had “(reputedly) inexhaustible wealth[,] … was generous with his money, … and … had many devoted admirers among the hobbits of poor and unimportant families.” Why would Bilbo have “many devoted admirers among the hobbits of poor and unimportant families”? Ah! I think because he “was generous with his money” but putting it to good use in supporting and assisting them in hard times. Near the end of The Return of the King, “he gave [Sam] a little bag of gold. ‘Almost the last drop of the Smaug vintage,’ he said. ‘May come in useful, if you think of getting married, Sam.’”

Note also what gifts he gave at his and Frodo’s great party: “The poorer hobbits, and especially those of Bagshot Row, did very well.” But “All the chief treasures, as well as the books, pictures, and more than enough furniture, were left in [Frodo’s] possession. There was, however, no sign nor mention of money or jewelry: not a penny-piece or a glass bead was given away.” We are not told what comprised “the chief treasures,” perhaps silver (such as those silver spoons Lobelia coveted!), fine china, and other such household items, as well as “several small (but rather valuable) articles that had somehow fallen inside [Lobelia’s] umbrella,” none of which are further described.

Barliman Butterbur was out 30 silver pennies when the horses were stolen from his stables at The Prancing Pony. To put that into perspective, if these were identical to Anglo-Saxon silver pennies, one-twentieth of a troy ounce, that would be the modern-day equivalent of US$27, £21, or €24.25. (That’s C$35.5 to you Canucks, A$39 to you Aussies, and NZ$42 to you Kiwis. 😉 At least at current exchange rates, which every dragon uses.) If they were Roman denarii from around the time of Christ, they’d be worth 3.2 times more; but the denarius was an ever-shrinking coin from the days of the Republic to the end of the Western Empire. But it is unlikely anyone was minting coins after the end of the kingdom of Arthedain and the ruin of Fornost, Deadmen’s Dike in Bilbo’s day. But if the Dúnedain minted full troy-ounce coins, Butterbur might have been out twenty times as much – and that seems to me a much more likely situation. (We are not told what weights the Dúnedain used, or the weights of their coins.)

I think Bilbo used his treasure first to buy back his own property after the auction he interrupted; next to purchase himself some delicacies and finer items than were generally available in the Shire (perhaps often through his friends, the Dwarves), but mostly to quietly help his poorer neighbors, which earned their devotion and respect. Everything else he left to Frodo, and Frodo then to Sam. By the time he departed Middle-earth with Gandalf and Frodo, it seems nothing of his material wealth remained with him. And really, that is as it should be.
 
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Thanks Alcuin the Bagshot Row suggestion seems likely and I'm sure there would be some arrangement with the Gaffer in return for Sam's services as gardener.
 

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