By page number
Page numbers refer to the UK edition. Those in italics refer to the US edition.
[pg. 23]- 'If it's about the cabbage-flavoured stamp glue-' Moist began.' This is a reference to Vimes' statement on page 40 of Thud!: '"Remember the cabbage-scented stamp last month?...They actually caught fire if you put too many of them together!"'.
(UK Doubleday hardback pp42-43):- Discussing the Elim, the smallest coin of all, traditionally made by widows "and of course it's handy to drop in the charity box". In the bible, Jesus's parable of the widow's mite, in which the smallest coin of all, donated by a poor widow, has more value than all the gold ostentatiously placed in there by the Pharisees, simply because it is all she has to give.
(109) Food gets you through times of no gold better than gold gets you through times of no food - this is a clever re-stating of Shelton and Mavrides' hippy maxim, used in their comic books about the alternative lifestyle trio The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, which originally states:-
Dope gets you through times of no money better than money gets you through times of no dope.
And of course a form of "dope", considered superior by cannabis connoisseurs, is known as Acapulco Gold...
(139 Corgi Paperback UK)"nom d'une bouilloire? pourquoi est-ce que je suis hardiment ri sous cape à part les dieux" = "name of a kettle? why is it that I am boldly chuckled except the gods" - please someone explain what that means!
(145 Corgi Paperback UK) "Ad Urbem Pertinet" = "Belongs to the City". Written on Von Lipwig's draft banknote, see also the following.
(146 Corgi Paperback UK) "promitto fore ut possessori postulanti nummum unum solvem an apte satisfaciam" = "I promise to pay an adequate defense, the owner asked for one piece" - Although that is the literal translation this refers to the inscription on English banknotes, beneath the words Bank of England, which read "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of" followed by the denomination of the note. Originally this meant the note would be exchanged by the bank for the equivalent value in gold; since Britain abandoned the gold standard the phrase is entirely decorative.
(155/167) "Bent stood up in one unfolding moment, like a jack-in-the-box." — This foreshadowing will later prove as subtle as a pie in the face.
(190-200/208-218) The Cabinet of Curiosity may be the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, a natural history by Albertus Seba. The back cover of the book has a plate of a giant squid. (A lot of museums have a Cabinet of Curiosity as part of their collection.)
(214/236) The unusual font indicating the archaic language of Formal Golem uses the Enochian alphabet created by the 16th Century mathematician and astronomer John Dee. (Himself a Discworld character in The Science of Discworld II: the Globe, where he hosts visiting Wizards from Discworld In Elizabethan London, Dee lived at Mortlake, which is also a location in Ankh-Morpork)). It uses letter by letter substitution to create the effect. The Formal Golem language is designated as appropriate to a near-contemporary of Umnian's multi-meaninged tongue. The characters for r/m, i/y, c/k, and u/v/w are effectively indistinguishable, and the s and e are quite similar. Translated, Adora Belle says "I can speak formal golem." Of course, we meet Doctor John Dee in The Science of Discworld II: the Globe.
(221/244) In Formal Golem, Flead first says, "You make eternity bearable!" and then asks "Why do you care about golems? They have no passionate parts!" A visual key to the Enochian alphabet can be found here where you can try the translations yourself.
(268/299-300) Mr Fusspot's courtship of Angua von Überwald is reminiscent of the battery-powered dog toys beloved of British shopping centres, which yap, somersault and repeat, although none of them come with the "new toy" delicately described by Captain Carrot as "a wind-up clockwork item of an intimate nature".
(p333, UK): Tell us the secret, Mr Lipwig." Vetinari is putting subtle pressure on Moist to explain the secret of the Umnian golems. "Tell us" could refer to the fact Adora Belle also wants to know. However. In Freemasonry, a higher-level Initiation involves the candidate being symbolically tortured by pitiless creatures who continually demand "Tell us the secret!" If the Candidate withstands the torture, his tormentors turn to the Grand Master and regretfully say things like "I vexed his inner soul and spirit most greatly, Master, but he remained mute". To which the Master shakes his head regretfully, and orders the candidate to be killed and buried. Who is then interred in a closed coffin and left to stew for a few hours. After which he is symbolically reborn into the Light as a higher-level Mason and a new person... killed and resurrected. Offered an Angel, perhaps. (Robert Anton Wilson uses this as a theme in one of the Illuminatus! fantasy novels.)
In The Truth, Mr. Tuttle Scrope is put up as the replacement Patrician for Vetinari. He runs a shop that sells Leatherwork, "... and rubber work... and feathers... and whips... and... little jiggly things" and was, presumably, the supplier for Sir Joshua Lavish in Making Money, who had the cabinet full of such supplies.
The Lavishes are distinctly reminiscent of the Borgias. The same extended family, devious infighting, and desire for political power. The most famous Borgia dynasty includes Cesare and Lucrezia "Lucci" Borgia, mirrored here as Cosmo Lavish and Pucci Lavish, although an alternate source for the name of Cosmo would be Cosimo de Medici, the first of the Medici to become ruler (Patrician?) of Florence. Incidentally, Pucci is also the name of another influential family from Florence, political allies to the Medici family, particularly Cosimo. Possibly such references to other members (or allies) of the Medici family exist among the Lavishes.
Moist's plan to sell the gold of the bank mirrors the actions of Gordon Brown, who sold 400 tons of Gold Bullion between 1999 and 2002. His comments on gold have been a recurring theme in the Discworld books, ever since the Colour of Magic.
Brown's predecessor, John Major, was an accountant and son of a trapeze artist; he has been described as "the only man to run away from the circus to become an accountant."
Moist mentions that his family in Uberwald belong to a religion which he describes as the "plain potato church." There is also an "Ancient and Orthodox" potato church -- could this be related to Mr Tulip's religion in The Truth? Both men originally come from an unspecified place in Far Uberwald and Mr Tulip mentions that his religion goes back hundreds of years... is it possible that Moist comes from the same village or one nearby?
A motif recurring throughout the book
All the sly references to the Roundworld game of Monopoly, which involves a bank, financial speculation, capital investment in a city, and striving to reduce your opponents to absolute penury and degradation. This is dealt with in more detail here.