History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2018-05-17

Introduction

It can be quite confusing looking at old documents with references to money; money in units you don't know anything about. This page will help you with the Swedish monetary units. The old monetary system was based on weight and the value of the coins corresponded to the commercial value of the metal they were made of. The minting of coins began in Sweden during the 11th century. Examples of early coins are; mark, öre, örtugar and penningar. 

The copper mark

From medieval times the copper mark was a non-physical currency (räknemynt) used in bills, invoices etc. A certain amount of money was called a mark (like the British currency Guniea (sp) = 21 shilling).

The minted mark

The mark, as a means of payment by coin, was minted (in silver) from 1536 and in use until 1777. The minted mark was also called mark penningar.

The öre

The öre was a non-physical currency (räknemynt) from the beginning but was minted from 1522 until 1777. The öre came back as a Swedish currency in 1855.

The örtug

The örtug was minted from 1370 to 1776. The values of the currencies were not the same all over Sweden but everywhere: 1 mark = 8 öre = 24 örtugar.  Sweden has three large regions or “lands”. From south to north they are Götaland, Svealand and Norrland.   The value of a penningar was different in these regions of Sweden. In Svealand 1 mark = 192 penningar while in Götaland 1 mark = 384 penningar. At the end of the 13th century the Svealand value of 1 mark = 192 penningar was set as the national standard. The penningar, a silver coin, was minted from the 11th century to 1548 but was in use as a currency until 1776

The Daler

The daler was introduced in 1534 and was equal to 4 marks. At this time it was mainly used as a currency for foreign trade. The name of the daler can be derived back to the German (Bohemian) currency Thaler. Other countries had currencies like the daler with the same weight and amount of silver, so it could be used internationally. In 1604 the name of the daler was changed to Riksdaler. A bit later the speice daler was introduced. But the old name, daler, was still being used for the value of 4 mark. The three different "dalers" were all in use until 1871. The original daler is sometimes called a Swedish daler (svensk daler). The riksdaler (rdr) was the main currency and kept its value throughout the years. Its weight in silver was all the time 25.5 gram. The result of this was that the exchange rate between the riksdaler and the other coins has been different over time.  The riksdaler was mainly used as a currency for foreign trade and wasn't really used domestically until the monetary reform in 1776.  The daler was all the time = 4 mark. The daler was not minted after 1604, only the riksdaler (therefore the riksdaler were also called "slagen daler" - minted daler). The daler was used as a symbolic name for the value of 4 marks until 1776. 1 daler = 4 mark = 32 öre . The riksdaler after 1830 was only referred to as "Riksdaler specie". The name Riksdaler specie was only used for the minted coins of the currency riksdaler, not for the bank notes or the "räknemynt" (a non-physical currency). The expression " riksdaler specie" is from the first half of the 17th century but "specie" was not punched on the coins until 1830. Year The value of 1 Riksdaler 1604 1 rdr = 4 mark 1609 1 rdr = 6 mark 1681 1 rdr = 8 mark sm 1712 1 rdr = 12 mark sm

Double Monetary Standard (Dubbel Myntfot)

In 1620 Sweden established two types of monetary standards. The early one was based on silver and a new one was based on copper. The reason for that was a shortage of silver. The copper coins had a lower status than the silver coins. Between 1644 and 1776 a series of copper coins was minted (plåtmynt). They were minted in copper but their values were punched in daler silver currency (dr sm). The value of coins corresponded to the commercial value of the copper in each coin. The value of silver was much higher than the copper; therefore the copper coins had to contain a lot of copper to represent the same value as of a corresponding silver coin. This caused the copper coins to be much larger and heavier than silver coins. The 10 daler copper currency (10 dr km) had the highest value of the copper coins. Its weight was 19.7 kg (43.4 lb). It was rectangular and was the largest coin in the world. The 10 dr km was minted between 1644 and 1645. See the photo to the right. In 1644 was 1 dr sm = 2½ dr km.  From 1665 until the monetary reform in 1776 was 1 dr sm = 3 dr km and 1 dr sp = 3 dr sm. Abbreviations: rdr = riksdaler dr = daler km = copper currency (kopparmynt) sm = silver currency (silvermynt) sk = skilling sp = specie

Emergency Coins (Nödmynt)

During the Great Nordic war, 1700 - 1721, the King Karl XII issued emergency coins (nödmynt). They were issued between 1716 and 1719. Every emergency coin represented a given value of a copper coin with the weight of 756 gram. The government did guarantee the value of the new coins and was supposed to redeem each holder of the coins after the war. When Karl XII was killed in 1718 the government did redeem the emergency coins but only to 50% of its nominal value. The emergency coins caused inflation.

The Monetary Reform of 1776 (Myntreformen 1776)

One monetary standard

In 1776 a monetary reform took place under the regime of King Gustav III. The copper currency was abolished and the riksdaler sm (silvermynt) was made the main currency in Sweden. Now 1 riksdaler (rdr) = 48 skilling (sk) and 1 skilling = 12 runstycken. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the system with two monetary standards (in silver and copper) had caused many problems. Now there was only one monetary standard, based on the weight in silver. Therefore there was no longer any need to specify "sm" (silvermynt) after the riksdaler. In the reform the old coins öre, mark and penningar were abolished.

The Skilling

A new monetary unit, the skilling, was introduced in 1776 and was in use until 1855. It was first minted in 1802. The skilling was minted in copper and its value was linked to the banco bank notes (see below). Therefore, from 1835 the coins were called skilling banco.  The most valuable stamp in the world is a Swedish 3 skilling banco stamp from 1857. The 3 skilling banco stamps were green but this one was yellow. The first bank notes were issued in Sweden in 1661. The bank notes then were rather an instrument of debt, where the issuer (the bank) did guarantee to pay the amount on the bill when presented. The first commercial bank in Sweden was the Stockholm Banco.  Johan Palmstruch was the founder of this bank in 1657 and in 1661 they issued the first bills. The customers did deposit their heavy copper coins and in return they got a bill covering the amount. As early as in 1668 the bank went bankrupt. The same year, 1668, the Rikets Ständers Bank was founded. This was first central bank in the world and is today the Bank of Sweden (Svenska Riksbanken). Modern commercial banks, as we see them today, were not formed until the beginning of the 19th century. The first modern commercial bank was Skånska Privatbanken, founded in 1831. In 1820 the first saving bank, the Första Sparbanken, was founded in Gothenburg.

Bank notes

Riksgäldskontoret was founded in 1789 and started to issue bank notes the same year. Riksgäldskontoret was a government authority within the Department of Finance responsible for the government loans and the state debt. The Bank of Sweden (Riksbanken) started to issue bank notes in 1777. In 1834 1 riksdaler specie were given a value of 2 2/3 riksdaler banco (the bank notes issued by the Bank of Sweden - Riksbanken) or 4 riksdaler riksgäld (the bank notes issued by the Riksgäldskontoret). All three values were listed on each bank note. Since 1 riksdaler riksgäld was the same as ¼ riksdaler specie the different values printed on the minted riksdaler was changed to ½, ¼ osv. The Riksgälld bank notes (riksgäldssedlarna) were withdrawn in 1836 and abolished in 1846..

The Decimal Monetary System of 1855

In 1855 a decimal monetary system was introduced in Sweden. Riksdaler riksgäld became the new unit with the name riksdaler riksmynt and was set to 100 öre. Öre was once again a Swedish currency. The highest value in silver, 4 riksdaler riksmynt was the same as 1 riksdaler specie. Gold coins have been used side by side with the other currencies in Sweden. The gold coin was  called dukat after 1654 and its value in 1855 was about 8 riksdaler (rdr) riksmynt (rmt) or 2 rdr specie (sp). 1 rdr rmt = 100 öre. Rdr = Riksdaler Rmt = Riksmynt Sp = Specie Remember that the decimal system was not introduced until 1855. Before that 1 dr = 32 öre. If you, for example, are looking at probate records and in find a figure of, let's say 2.16 daler that will be 2 daler and 16 öre or 2½ daler.

The Monetary Reform of 1873

In 1873 a monetary reform was passed in the Parliament, the Riksdag. From that year Sweden, Norway and Denmark introduced a same currency, the Kronor (Kr). It is one krona and two kronor. 1 krona = 100 öre. At the time of the reform, the new krona was set to 1 riksdaler riksmynt and 1 riksdaler specie, then = 4 kronor. The old currency rdr rmt and rdr sp was abolished. Gold became the new monetary standard of the Swedish currency (guldmyntsfot). The gold currency was not minted, just a reserve, guaranteeing the value of the krona. The "gold krona" representated a value of 0.403225 gram of gold. The real krona (the coin used by people) was minted in silver and öre in copper. However, after the reform of 1873, the commercial value of the metal in the krona and the öre did not represent the value printed on the coins. The "gold krona" instead guaranteed its value. The gold monetary standard was in use until 1931. From 1931 the monetary standard is entirely based on bank notes. Today the Swedish currency, kronor, is abbreviated SEK. Top of page

Abbreviations

Daler: dr Kopparmynt: km Kronor: Kr Mark: m Riksdaler: rdr Riksgäldssedlar: rgs Riksmynt: rmt Runstycken: rst Silvermynt: sm Skilling: sk Specie: sp

Graphical Display of the Swedish Currencies

The History of the Swedish Monetary System

Old Swedish Exchange Rates

Convert yesterday’s value of money to today’s value (Swedish crowns)

Historia.se (From Middle Ages to present days) SCB (1914 to present days)

Source References

Vad kostade det? L O Lagerqvist och E Nathorst-Böös, 1993 Sveriges mynthistoria, Kungliga mynkkabinettet, 1945 Sparbankernas historia, 1990 Nationalencyklopedin Top of page
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History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2018-05-17

Introduction

It can be quite confusing looking at old documents with references to money; money in units you don't know anything about. This page will help you with the Swedish monetary units. The old monetary system was based on weight and the value of the coins corresponded to the commercial value of the metal they were made of. The minting of coins began in Sweden during the 11th century. Examples of early coins are; mark, öre, örtugar and penningar. 

The copper mark

From medieval times the copper mark was a non- physical currency (räknemynt) used in bills, invoices etc. A certain amount of money was called a mark (like the British currency Guniea (sp) = 21 shilling).

The minted mark

The mark, as a means of payment by coin, was minted (in silver) from 1536 and in use until 1777. The minted mark was also called mark penningar.

The öre

The öre was a non-physical currency (räknemynt) from the beginning but was minted from 1522 until 1777. The öre came back as a Swedish currency in 1855.

The örtug

The örtug was minted from 1370 to 1776. The values of the currencies were not the same all over Sweden but everywhere: 1 mark = 8 öre = 24 örtugar.  Sweden has three large regions or “lands”. From south to north they are Götaland, Svealand and Norrland.   The value of a penningar was different in these regions of Sweden. In Svealand 1 mark = 192 penningar while in Götaland 1 mark = 384 penningar. At the end of the 13th century the Svealand value of 1 mark = 192 penningar was set as the national standard. The penningar, a silver coin, was minted from the 11th century to 1548 but was in use as a currency until 1776

The Daler

The daler was introduced in 1534 and was equal to 4 marks. At this time it was mainly used as a currency for foreign trade. The name of the daler can be derived back to the German (Bohemian) currency Thaler. Other countries had currencies like the daler with the same weight and amount of silver, so it could be used internationally. In 1604 the name of the daler was changed to Riksdaler. A bit later the speice daler was introduced. But the old name, daler, was still being used for the value of 4 mark. The three different "dalers" were all in use until 1871. The original daler is sometimes called a Swedish daler (svensk daler). The riksdaler (rdr) was the main currency and kept its value throughout the years. Its weight in silver was all the time 25.5 gram. The result of this was that the exchange rate between the riksdaler and the other coins has been different over time.  The riksdaler was mainly used as a currency for foreign trade and wasn't really used domestically until the monetary reform in 1776.  The daler was all the time = 4 mark. The daler was not minted after 1604, only the riksdaler (therefore the riksdaler were also called "slagen daler" - minted daler). The daler was used as a symbolic name for the value of 4 marks until 1776. 1 daler = 4 mark = 32 öre . The riksdaler after 1830 was only referred to as "Riksdaler specie". The name Riksdaler specie was only used for the minted coins of the currency riksdaler, not for the bank notes or the "räknemynt" (a non-physical currency). The expression " riksdaler specie" is from the first half of the 17th century but "specie" was not punched on the coins until 1830. Year The value of 1 Riksdaler 1604 1 rdr = 4 mark 1609 1 rdr = 6 mark 1681 1 rdr = 8 mark sm 1712 1 rdr = 12 mark sm

Double Monetary Standard 

(Dubbel Myntfot)

In 1620 Sweden established two types of monetary standards. The early one was based on silver and a new one was based on copper. The reason for that was a shortage of silver. The copper coins had a lower status than the silver coins. Between 1644 and 1776 a series of copper coins was minted (plåtmynt). They were minted in copper but their values were punched in daler silver currency (dr sm). The value of coins corresponded to the commercial value of the copper in each coin. The value of silver was much higher than the copper; therefore the copper coins had to contain a lot of copper to represent the same value as of a corresponding silver coin. This caused the copper coins to be much larger and heavier than silver coins. The 10 daler copper currency (10 dr km) had the highest value of the copper coins. Its weight was 19.7 kg (43.4 lb). It was rectangular and was the largest coin in the world. The 10 dr km was minted between 1644 and 1645. See the photo to the right. In 1644 was 1 dr sm = 2½ dr km.  From 1665 until the monetary reform in 1776 was 1 dr sm = 3 dr km and 1 dr sp = 3 dr sm. Abbreviations: rdr = riksdaler dr = daler km = copper currency (kopparmynt) sm = silver currency (silvermynt) sk = skilling sp = specie

Emergency Coins (Nödmynt)

During the Great Nordic war, 1700 - 1721, the King Karl XII issued emergency coins (nödmynt). They were issued between 1716 and 1719. Every emergency coin represented a given value of a copper coin with the weight of 756 gram. The government did guarantee the value of the new coins and was supposed to redeem each holder of the coins after the war. When Karl XII was killed in 1718 the government did redeem the emergency coins but only to 50% of its nominal value. The emergency coins caused inflation.

The Monetary Reform of 1776

(Myntreformen 1776)

One monetary standard

In 1776 a monetary reform took place under the regime of King Gustav III. The copper currency was abolished and the riksdaler sm (silvermynt) was made the main currency in Sweden. Now 1 riksdaler (rdr) = 48 skilling (sk) and 1 skilling = 12 runstycken. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the system with two monetary standards (in silver and copper) had caused many problems. Now there was only one monetary standard, based on the weight in silver. Therefore there was no longer any need to specify "sm" (silvermynt) after the riksdaler. In the reform the old coins öre, mark and penningar were abolished.

The Skilling

A new monetary unit, the skilling, was introduced in 1776 and was in use until 1855. It was first minted in 1802. The skilling was minted in copper and its value was linked to the banco bank notes (see below). Therefore, from 1835 the coins were called skilling banco.  The most valuable stamp in the world is a Swedish 3 skilling banco stamp from 1857. The 3 skilling banco stamps were green but this one was yellow. The first bank notes were issued in Sweden in 1661. The bank notes then were rather an instrument of debt, where the issuer (the bank) did guarantee to pay the amount on the bill when presented. The first commercial bank in Sweden was the Stockholm Banco.  Johan Palmstruch was the founder of this bank in 1657 and in 1661 they issued the first bills. The customers did deposit their heavy copper coins and in return they got a bill covering the amount. As early as in 1668 the bank went bankrupt. The same year, 1668, the Rikets Ständers Bank  was founded. This was first central bank in the world and is today the Bank of Sweden (Svenska Riksbanken). Modern commercial banks, as we see them today, were not formed until the beginning of the 19th century. The first modern commercial bank was Skånska Privatbanken, founded in 1831. In 1820 the first saving bank, the Första Sparbanken, was founded in Gothenburg.

Bank notes

Riksgäldskontoret was founded in 1789 and started to issue bank notes the same year. Riksgäldskontoret was a government authority within the Department of Finance responsible for the government loans and the state debt. The Bank of Sweden (Riksbanken) started to issue bank notes in 1777. In 1834 1 riksdaler specie were given a value of 2 2/3 riksdaler banco (the bank notes issued by the Bank of Sweden - Riksbanken) or 4 riksdaler riksgäld (the bank notes issued by the Riksgäldskontoret). All three values were listed on each bank note. Since 1 riksdaler riksgäld was the same as ¼ riksdaler specie the different values printed on the minted riksdaler was changed to ½, ¼ osv. The Riksgälld bank notes (riksgäldssedlarna) were withdrawn in 1836 and abolished in 1846..

The Decimal Monetary System of

1855

In 1855 a decimal monetary system was introduced in Sweden. Riksdaler riksgäld became the new unit with the name riksdaler riksmynt and was set to 100 öre. Öre was once again a Swedish currency. The highest value in silver, 4 riksdaler riksmynt was the same as 1 riksdaler specie. Gold coins have been used side by side with the other currencies in Sweden. The gold coin was  called dukat after 1654 and its value in 1855 was about 8 riksdaler (rdr) riksmynt (rmt) or 2 rdr specie (sp). 1 rdr rmt = 100 öre. Rdr = Riksdaler Rmt = Riksmynt Sp = Specie Remember that the decimal system was not introduced until 1855. Before that 1 dr = 32 öre. If you, for example, are looking at probate records and in find a figure of, let's say 2.16 daler that will be 2 daler and 16 öre or 2½ daler.

The Monetary Reform of 1873

In 1873 a monetary reform was passed in the Parliament, the Riksdag. From that year Sweden, Norway and Denmark introduced a same currency, the Kronor (Kr). It is one krona and two kronor. 1 krona = 100 öre. At the time of the reform, the new krona was set to 1 riksdaler riksmynt and 1 riksdaler specie, then = 4 kronor. The old currency rdr rmt and rdr sp was abolished. Gold became the new monetary standard of the Swedish currency (guldmyntsfot). The gold currency was not minted, just a reserve, guaranteeing the value of the krona. The "gold krona" representated a value of 0.403225 gram of gold. The real krona (the coin used by people) was minted in silver and öre in copper. However, after the reform of 1873, the commercial value of the metal in the krona and the öre did not represent the value printed on the coins. The "gold krona" instead guaranteed its value. The gold monetary standard was in use until 1931. From 1931 the monetary standard is entirely based on bank notes. Today the Swedish currency, kronor, is abbreviated SEK. Top of page

Abbreviations

Daler: dr Kopparmynt: km Kronor: Kr Mark: m Riksdaler: rdr Riksgäldssedlar: rgs Riksmynt: rmt Runstycken: rst Silvermynt: sm Skilling: sk Specie: sp

Graphical Display of the Swedish

Currencies

The History of the Swedish

Monetary System

Old Swedish Exchange Rates

Convert yesterday’s value of money to

today’s value (Swedish crowns)

Historia.se (From Middle Ages to present days) SCB (1914 to present days)

Source References

Vad kostade det? L O Lagerqvist och E Nathorst- Böös, 1993 Sveriges mynthistoria, Kungliga mynkkabinettet, 1945 Sparbankernas historia, 1990 Nationalencyklopedin Top of page