History of Polish zloty

First Polish coins were struck in second half of X century. Earlier foreign money was used and barter transactions were made; along with Polish coins these two were still used concurrently till XIII century.
The first Polish duke – Mieszko I – begun to issue a silver coin. System was based on 1 pound = 367 grams of silver, of that 240 denars (called thick) were produced. During the political turmoil of XI century these coins lost the value and had to be replaced in the latter half of the century.
The new system was based on 1 grzywna (weight unit) = approx. ? Carolingian (French) pound. The system was 1 grzywna = 4 wiardunki = 24 skojce = 240 denars = 480 halfdenars (obol), but only denars (called thin) were struck. Value of denars was declining due to decreasing content of silver used. The thickness of coins was descending gradually also – in the end of XIII century they were so thin, that the only one side die was used – these were called bracteats (brakteat). Coins were neglected and seen as a way of making high profits for the issuer, therefore they were debased again.Poland-Bielsko-Biala-Commemorative-Coin
Kazimierz the Great did the next recoinage in XIV century. The new, grosz (grosh) system was based on a European one. 1 Cracovian grzywna = 197 grams of silver = 4 wiarunki = 24 skojce = 48 groszy (grosh) = 96 polgroszy (half grosh) = 96 denars. The gold coinage of Hungary was used in valuable transactions. This system has also been debased. Foreign coins o less value were brought to Poland. Different systems were used in the parts of country – Prussia and Lithuania had completely different coinage. All these factors caused a lot of havoc to the trade.
Thorough reform has been made in 1526 – 1528, the new zloty system was implemented. 1 zloty = 5 szostakow (~six…) = 10 trojakow (~three…) = 30 grosh. 1 grosh = 2 half grosh = 3 szelag = 6 ternars = 18 denars. 1 grosh = 0.77 grams of silver. The system was implemented in Prussia in 1538 and in Lithuania in 1569. Gold ducats of 3.5 grams of gold were struck then. In 1564 silver talars were introduced, the coin was meant to be equal to golden ducat. 1 talar = 5 orts. The system was stable until the beginning of XVII century. When during the reign of Zygmunt III the coins were debased again, also worthless German coins were brought in and took place of melted Polish coins. The crisis occurred strongly after the war with Sweden in the half of XVII century – the coinage was debased even more. In 1659 Boratyni was granted a licence to strike copper szelags, he exceeded the amount agreed in the licence. In 1663 Tymf begun to issue low value zlotys, that consisted half of the silver then in the regal coinage. Those coins were then given an obligatory value over intrinsic one – this situation continued till the end of reign of Saxon elector kings in Poland (1763). During the seven-year war (1756 – 1763) Prussians got the genuine dies and struck fakes of very low intrinsic value.
Another thorough reform had to be made. In 1766 the new coinage was introduced; based on 1 Kolognian grzywna = 233.8 grams of silver = 10 talars = 80 zlotys (after 1786 83.5 zlotys). 1 gold ducat = 16.75 zlotys (after 1786 18 zlotys).
There was an attempt to issue first banknotes during the reign of Stanislaw August (1764 – 1795), it was realised during the uprising of Kosciuszko in 1795 – these were in circulation only for the short period of insurrection.
The previous coinage was continually struck in Warsaw Duchy since 1810.
In 1815 the system has been slightly changed: 1 Kolognian grzywna became 84 zlotys.
In 1834 the Kolognian grzywna has been replaced with Russian pound of 409.5 grams of silver. And double denominations were introduced: 10 zlotys = 1.5 rubles, 1 zloty = 30 grosh = 15 kopeek.
Russian rubles were implemented into circulation in 1842. This system lasted till the end of I World War. In the remaining two other parts of Poland under Prussian and Austrian domination the dominants’ coinages were used respectively.
All three countries introduced gold coin in the latter half of XIX century.
The monetary chaos of I World War lasted till 1922. Although since 1918 the Polish mark was a legal tender still Austrian, German and Russian money was used.
The hyperinflation of after war years was overcame in the 1924 with introduction of new zloty system (denomination structure lasts from then on): 1 zloty = 100 grosh = 0.1687 grams of gold. Before the war Polish zloty has been well stabilised. But the war had ruined the system again.
Germans had issued their own money (although it was based still on the proportion of 1 zloty = 100 grosh) for the General Government (eastern part of area of Poland occupied by German troops).
Polish banknotes were issued in 1945 and coins in 1949 (then under the name of republic of Poland, without Peoples).
Monetary system of socialistic Poland has, on several occasions, suffered from inflation and the governmental steps to fight it. In 1950 there was an unfair cut in peoples’ savings volume – to decrease the amount of money in circulation.
In 1995 there was the last change – the 10,000 old zlotys = 1 new zloty. New banknotes and coins had been issued earlier (since 1990 – coins and 1992 baknotes) but put into circulation on the Jaunary 1st 1995. The new reform brought coins back to life – as since early 1990’s they were non existent in the transactions due to very small value (with some exceptions of 10,000 zlotys and 20,000 zlotys coins that were commemorative but quite common).

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