Reply To: 1360s Doublet Project

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Hans Hellinger

Currency is always kind of tough, because the values changed so rapidly and often, and the same names were used for different coins in different times and places.

But it helps to convert it into rough equivalent of silver by weight. Pretty much all countries had a currency roughly similar to an English pound – the French Livre, the German mark, the Italian Lira, the Ukranian Grivna, all roughly correlate to the equivalent value (at least in theory) of 12 ounces of roughly 80% pure silver. As we know the sterling standard is 92.5% but that came a bit later.

That is usually a fiat currency and used as a unit of bookeeping (the word for it usually literally means ‘book’) except in Ukraine or Russia where it literally means a 12 oz silver bar or the equivalent value in furs. Gulden (or Rhenish guilder or Polish złoty) were actual coins typically worth roughly 1.3-1.5 marks or 16-18 ounces (depending on how big or thick the coin and how pure the gold). The word just means ‘golden’ or ‘gold’.

My understanding is that the Florin was a gold coin which was supposed to be worth one pound or lira, i.e. 12 ounces of silver. Of course that depended on many factors.

Everyday currency starts at the equivalent of the English shilling (either 1/20 or 1/40 of a £ / mark / Livre / Lira) and then various coins which are shares of that. The German Kreuzer is usually worth half a shilling, and there are supposed to be 60 Kreuzer to a gulden, or 40 to a mark (or pound or lira or florin etc.) It’s also worth a little ore than 4 pennies.

The groschen (Czech groš) came in different regional variants, but the Prague groschen was worth roughly 3 grams of 93% pure silver, basically depending on how well the big silver mine at Kutna Hora was doing and who had control over it at any given moment (it went through a wild series of boom and bust times as the mine got played out but improvements in technology both for mining and refining metals reopened it again). But probably typically around 3 grams. This is basically a more valuable / better dinari.

Dinari were about half of a groschen, and seemed to be ubiquitous. Roughly 2 grams of silver.

Then you have pfennigs / pennies by the later middle ages, and there were also Heller, usually worth a half pfenning. Anyway a penny is usually somewhere around 1.2 grams of silver, very roughly speaking.

There were of course many other regional currencies. Also these are the base values of each unit type, whereas typical actual coins were often multitudes of the above, so like a 5 Kreuzer coin or a 3 Groschen coin etc.

We are planning to do a currency converter app for this website by the way but I don’t know if we’ll ever get around to it. I have it already on an app I wrote that runs on my desktop, but it’s not written in web compatible software.

When you are talking about larger amounts like monthly pay you can usually convert that to either marks / pounds / livres or to gulden, so that is how you can compare like with like. For smaller denominations it’s harder.