So what happened to the project?

Short answer: I had not factored in freight and labor, and this project entailed more labor than two volunteers were willing to do without pay. (Having to pay people in real-world currency adds a major expense.) One person interested in investing in the project lost interest given Activision's requirement that zorkmids must only be sold for cost.

But I leave this page up in hopes that I may yet realize this little dream I have. E-mail me if you have any ideas.

Oh, here's one. Jota had an idea to make a zorkmid-inspired geocoin (with images of the proposed obverse and reverse).

What's a zorkmid?

Zorkmids are a unit of currency in the Great Underground Empire of the Zork series of games originally by Infocom, and later by Activision, Inc. In these games, zorkmids were first minted during the reign of Belwit the Flat in the year 699 GUE.

Infocom minted zorkmid coins for releases of The Zork Trilogy in 1987, a repackaged omnibus of Zork I-III. For a company known for it's great touchie-feelies, it was one of the best touchie-feelies ever.

Info-marketer Mike Dornbrook was in charge of game packaging. He kindly described what was involved in getting them made:

Alas, I never obtained one of those wonderful coins, having bought Zork I-III back when the manuals were black leaflets. As the want-list of Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe will attest, several other fans are seeking zorkmids too. Once I even saw one auctioned on eBay.

What do zorkmids look like?

The coins are made of copper composite chemically antiqued to darken the deeply recessed areas.

They have been described as somewhat irregular in shape, but 32 mm in diameter at their widest point. This irregularity may be clever illusion created by a thick, slightly misshapen rim on a perfectly round coin.

The obverse bears the flatheaded profile captioned BELWIT THE FLAT. Above the profile is the denomination ONE ZORKMID, and beneath is the year 699 G.U.E.. The reverse depicts Castle Egreth in three-dimensional relief. Above is the motto IN FROBS WE TRUST, and below is some fictional ancient script.

The plan

What if a bunch of fans raised a couple thousand dollars and contracted a private mint to press 500 or so replicas of the Zork Trilogy zorkmid coin?

Here's how I thought it would work:

A license to mint zorkmids

We must license the artwork on the coins from Activision, since they hold a copyright on it. Further, it is only proper to ask their blessing to manufacture Zork commemoratives. Let us hope they don't outright refuse or charge too hefty a fee.

I wrote Laird Malamed, technical director of Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor, and got a green light, with some conditions:

Inexact replicas?

A couple collectors (Matthew Murray and C.E. Forman) strongly recommended making the replicas identifiable in some way, to prevent unscrupulous speculators from trying to sell the replicas as originals.

A mint has informed me they are required by federal law to put their mint mark on every coin they produce, even commemoratives. If so, there will be a small mark indicating the source of the coins, akin to the tiny P or D next to the head on USA coins indicating whether the coin was minted in Philadelphia or Denver.

If a more obvious change were desired, there were some alterations we could have made that don't involve changing the material or size.

How much will all this cost?

Minting would cost over $7 per coin, not including shipping costs, at the 500 coin level.

Northwest Territorial Mint estimated the two round 32 mm dies would cost $600 each. 500 antiqued copper coins themselves would cost about $4.85 per coin. (We're not going to rate any bulk discounts with these quantities.) Without freight, that comes to:

QuantityCost per coin

We could make plastic sleeves available as an option. They would probably enable us to ship individual coins sealed in cardboard UPS envelopes. Insurance would be advisable if sent that way, but we can let the buyers decide whether to pay $2 more for insurance or not.