Russian version

Full-bodied metal coins

Gold, silver and copper coins were undoubtedly objects and had permanent value, like the value of the metal they contained. The value, for example, of the gold used to stamp gold coins was in no way dependent on the problems of the government that stamped them (Fig. 10).

The first known coins were made in the kingdom of Lydia (on the territory of present-day Turkey) in the 7th century B.C. out of electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver. A particular design was stamped on them to confirm the prescribed weight. The minted design played the part of a stamp by which the ruler guaranteed the accuracy of the composition and weight of the coin109

On the territory of Rus’, the minting of silver and gold coins dates back to the times of Prince Vladimir I (Kievan Rus, end of the 10th — beginning of the 11th century). On some gold coins, the inscription «Vladimir on the throne» was continued on the reverse with «and behold his gold», and this signified the guarantee of the coin’s composition. In the «Russkaya Pravda» code of laws, metal money was still called kuna, although silver grivnas have also appeared by then. Between the 12th and the 15th centuries, princes tried to mint their own «specific» coins. In Novgorod, foreign money was in circulation — «yefimki» (from Joachimsthaler — German silver coins which were being used as an international means of payment in the whole of Eastern Europe). In the Moscow principality, the initiative to mint silver coins was taken by Dmitri Donskoi (14th century), who began to smelt Tatar silver money into Russian grivnas. Ivan III (end of the 15th century) established that the right to mint coins could belong only to the «elder» of the princes, the occupier of the Moscow throne. The first regulation of the Russian monetary system was passed under Ivan the Terrible. At the beginning of his reign, «moskovkas» and «novgorodkas» were circulating freely, and the former, at face vale, was equal to half a «novgorodka». At the beginning of the 17th century, a single monetary unit was established in Russia — the kopeck (a horseman with a spear [kop’ye in Russian]was depicted on the coin), which weighed 0.68g of silver. This roughly corresponded with the weight of a «novgorodka»; «moskovkas» were still being minted, as were half-kopecks and the «polushka» — a quarter of a kopeck. In addition, the rouble, the poltina and the altyn were introduced to the counting system, although the minting of the silver rouble did not become the rule until Peter the Great’s reign. Gold money — the chervonets — appeared in Russia from 1718 onwards.

The growing role of the State as a body of enforcement in money circulation was demonstrated by the fact that «the population was notified before new money and polushkas were issued. In populous places, documents were hung up with the text of the tsar’s decree on the new money. This decree was read out after worship in churches, and «hailed» by town criers at the markets for several days» 110

"Nowadays we do not use gold coins, but they were circulated at markets over several centuries. The particular popularity of gold as money is due to the fact that it is relatively simple to carry, it is easy to measure, and it is possible to check it for the presence of impurities. When gold coins are used as money in the economy (or paper money, which can be exchanged for gold on demand), we say that the gold standard is operating in the economy."111

As a further example we can use the words stamped on «Nikolai’s» gold coins, worth 25 roubles: «7 zolotniks 3 dolias of pure gold». [Translator’s note: zolotnik — old Russian measure of weight equivalent to 4.26g; dolia — measure of weight equivalent to 44mg.]

The circulation of this form of money, its proprietary and promissory content, its user value and exchange value, its legal nature and security, were the same as that of precise-weight metal ingots.


Copying information from this website is only allowed under condition of referring to this web link.

Copyright © 2008 Andrey Gribov
All rights reserved