How many groschen are in 7
Currencies from all over the world - part 1: guilders, cruisers and cash
In our new series we look at the origins of currencies from all over the world. Where did the dollar and pound originate? Where can the schilling and lire still be found as an official means of payment? To start with: guilders, cruisers and cash - currencies from times long past.
Today we use currency units such as dollars, francs or pounds for granted. However, hardly anyone knows how such names came about ...
Today's Germany was divided into many independent dukes, princes and dioceses in the Middle Ages. Accordingly, various currencies developed in parallel, for example the guilder: from the 14th to the 16th century, gold guilders were the official currency in many German-speaking and northern European regions. The word “guilder” is derived from the term “golden” or “goldener”, as the coins were initially made of gold. It was not until the end of the 15th century that minters started using silver as an alternative manufacturing material.
Cruisers are not only available from Dagobert Duck
From the middle of the 14th century, the gold guilders replaced the Florentines that had been used until then in many areas. First of all, Lübeck councilors convinced Emperor Ludwig IV to expand the coin shelf (a kind of currency law) and thus bring the first currency on the market. More than 30,000 coins quickly found their way into circulation - and the gold guilder developed into one of the most important currencies in what is now Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
In addition to the “big” guilders, smaller units with different names soon appeared: In the north, groschen were mostly in circulation; in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland, on the other hand, Kreuzer (comic fans also known as the currency in Duckburg).
The silver coin owes its name to its minting, the image of a double cross. Later the crosses were partly dispensed with and the word “Kreuzer” was coined in letters on the coins. The Imperial Coin Act of 1551 made the cruiser the unit for small silver money. The values fluctuated, however. Sometimes 50 kreuzers corresponded to the value of a (gold) guilder, sometimes 60, sometimes 72. By today's standards, the change would be quite valuable: a kreuzer would have a value of just under 1.30 euros; if it were made of pure silver it would cost 2 euros - and converted to today's purchasing power of 7 euros.
Cash - a coin to shake your head
Another currency comes into play from the Far East: Cash, also known as Käsch. The term that stands for “cash” today comes from East Asia. In countries like China, Japan or Korea, it refers to a means of payment that was used from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Cash coins were made of cheap metals like copper or brass. The special thing about it: It did not adorn a portrait of an incumbent ruler - this type of personality cult was frowned upon in the Far Eastern cultures.
In addition, the coins were perforated in the middle. European merchants could only shake their heads at this. The holes served a simple purpose - to make it easier to transport the money. Cash was available in several countries at different conversion values. Therefore, it is difficult today to get an approximate value in euros. Nevertheless, it can be said that the currency was generally not worth very much - it was due to the cheap materials.
Fortunately, currencies are no longer as complicated as they were in the Middle Ages. However, similar to cash, currencies such as dollars or pounds are used in several countries, but with different values. In the next part of our new series, you can read why the dollar is a valid means of payment in more than 20 countries.
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