(covers information from several alternate timelines)
"Probably somebody who got tired of making change with an eye dropper."
Latinum was a rare silver-colored liquid metal that was used as currency by the Ferengi Alliance, the Cardassians, and many other worlds. For ease of transaction, latinum was usually suspended within bits of gold as a binding medium to produce gold-pressed latinum. (DS9: "Who Mourns for Morn?") Smuggling latinum was considered a crime by the Enolians. (ENT: "Canamar")
- 57th Rule of Acquisition: "Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them." (DS9: "Armageddon Game")
- 75th Rule of Acquisition: "Home is where the heart is but the stars are made of latinum." (DS9: "Civil Defense")
- 102nd Rule of Acquisition: "Nature decays, but latinum lasts forever." (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")
- 229th Rule of Acquisition: "Latinum lasts longer than lust." (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs")
- 263rd Rule of Acquisition: "Never allow doubt to tarnish your lust for latinum." (DS9: "Bar Association")
During the mid-23rd century, bounty hunters, even from Federation species like the Tellarites, might expect Starfleet ships to pay bounties in latinum, including by depositing it in their accounts. (ST: "The Escape Artist")
Later that year, Quark warned Martus Mazur, who had just "stole" Rom as an employee, that he should be careful because Rom "shaves the latinum." Rom denied the accusation, before admitting, "Not much." Later, using profits from his club, Martus Mazur provided con artist Alsia with just about 10,000 isiks worth of latinum. (DS9: "Rivals")
In Grand Nagus Zek's Prophet-influenced publication, "The Rules of Acquisition: Revised for the Modern Ferengi", created in 2371, it was stated in Rule #24 that "Latinum tarnishes, but family is forever." (DS9: "Prophet Motive")
According to Jean-Luc Picard, in 2375, the regenerative properties of metaphasic radiation found on Ba'ku would be, to most offlanders, "more valuable than ...gold-pressed latinum." (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Denominations of gold-pressed latinum, in order of increasing value, included the slip, the strip, the bar, and the brick. (DS9: "Bar Association", "Body Parts") A brace was also a predetermined unit of latinum. (ENT: "Canamar")
The approximate conversion was:
- 100 slips = 1 strip (DS9: "Body Parts")
- 20 strips = 1 bar (DS9: "Body Parts")
- 1 big "bar" = 100,000 Federation credits (ST: "The Escape Artist")
In addition, other units of quantity were used to value latinum.
- Kilograms: Tahna Los gave Lursa and B'Etor thirteen kilograms of latinum in exchange for a canister of bilitrium. (DS9: "Past Prologue")
- A case: All the latinum in Quark's possession at the time of an evacuation of Deep Space 9 could fit in one case. (DS9: "The Siege")
The following provides comparison on the value of latinum for specific items. Further details of each item may be seen above.
- Cadet's uniform – five strips
- Dress from Garak's Clothiers – seventeen to twenty strips
- Holosuite programs
- Quark's personnel during the Cardassian Occupation – one slip per day
- Quark's dabo girls on DS9 – fourteen strips per pay cycle
- Morica Bilby – five to thirty bars a week
- Quark – five bars a day
- Janel Tigan – more than a thousand bars a day
- Life savings
- Nog – five bars
- Rom – seventeen bars, three strips, and five slips, as of 2373; also the amount he bid for Quark's remains. (DS9: "Body Parts")
- Quark – one hundred bricks and six hundred bars
- Bucket : Quark suggested that Odo could have had a latinum-plated bucket to regenerate in. (DS9: "Q-Less")
- Divine Treasury : Quark stated that the Divine Treasury was made of pure latinum. (DS9: "Little Green Men")
- Earring : Maihar'du gave Kira Nerys a latinum Bajoran earring as a gift from Grand Nagus Zek. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition")
- Hair brooch : Lwaxana Troi's latinum hair brooch was stolen while she was on Deep Space 9 in 2369. (DS9: "The Forsaken")
- Inscription pens: Quark was selling renewal scroll inscription pens during the Bajoran Gratitude Festival. The pens were latinum-plated. (DS9: "Fascination")
- Tooth sharpener: Quark had to use wooden chewsticks while Rom used a latinum tooth sharpener when they were children. (DS9: "Family Business")
- Waste extraction fixtures: According to Nog, the waste extraction fixtures in the Nagal Residence were plated with latinum. Quark suggested that, if made Grand Nagus, he would (rather indulgently) have replaced them with solid latinum fixtures. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")
In "Past Prologue", the value of latinum was defined by its weight, then "bars" were the unit of choice throughout DS9 Season 1. "Strips" were first referenced in "The Homecoming", and slowly came into popular use during the latter half of DS9 Season 2. "Slips" were first referenced in DS9 Season 3 in "Family Business", and the same year, "bricks" were first references in the VOY Season 1 episode "Learning Curve".
Also in "Past Prologue", both B'Etor and Odo once referred to it simply as "gold", while in "Q-Less", Vash referred to it once as "gold latinum", while Quark (in his excitement) referred to it as "gold-press latinum".
Some viewers have suggested that latinum could not be replicated, given that if it could be replicated it would be worthless. (The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Star Trek: Armada II depicts the natural form of latinum occurring in sparse nebulae in a form that can be harvested. The Federation used it for trade, while the Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, and Cardassian Union also use latinum for research. The Borg do not use it, and Species 8472 converts it into biomatter.