Lira Livre and Libra — books, Pfund and Pound — weight, Florence and Florins, and Francs — freedom

In Italy, Lira Soldo and Denaro were the standard units of account, with one lira always equaling 20 soldi or 240 denari, corresponding to the Livre Sol ("Sou") and Denier in France, Pound shillings and pence (£ s d) in England, and Pfund Schilling and Pfennig in Germany. Note that denari, denier, pennies and pfennig represented silver coins, the lira and soldo etc represented the paper (book) value. Those words soldo and sol were in fact based on an earlier gold "Solidus" coin, weighing 24 carats or about 4½ grams, issued in ancient Rome and Constantinople to the military, their "soldiers".

Click here for the history of money, silver and gold, in scripture.

Following Constantinople's **decline in the face of Islamic, Turkish and Venetian expansionism, new gold coins were issued from Florence, starting in 1252, worth one Florentine Lira. In silver it was worth 240 Denari in Florence, about 120 denier in France, and about two shillings/schillings (24 pennies/pfennig) in England and Germany that contained 35 grams of silver. The "Florin" itself contained 3½ grams of gold an initial value of gold-to-silver of 10 to one. It weighed slightly less than the Arabic Dinar, and as an international currency it replaced the Spanish Maravedi (in the west), whose gold content had fallen to one gram, in fact it was about to be reissued in silver as a result of their wars, click here for an account.

** In the east, in the "Great Fire" of 1204, a large part of Constantinople was burned down. It was caused by a riot of Venetian soldiers and sailors, led by their unscrupulous doge Enrico Dandolo, on the so-called "Fourth Crusade".

Three gold coins of similar weight were the ducat, issued by the Doge in Venice, the gold penny (worth 20 pennyweight or one ounce of silver), issued by King Henry III in England, and the gold ecu (worth 10 sols), issued by King Louis IX in France. Ecu is similar to the Spanish escudo (shield). But a rapid devaluing of silver coins in Italy and France as more and more copper were added to those coins, meant that by 1500 in Florence, the gold florin was worth seven paper lire.
See the Florentine graph at the bottom showing this trend between the years 1260-1780.

In 1323, new gold mines were opened in Hungary north of Budapest, allowing the government to issue their version of the gold florin, the Hungarian forint. For 50 years or so, these mines actually supplied almost 80% of Europe's gold production.

A heavier coin, a gold Noble, was issued in England early in 1344 with a weight of 9 grams. The Noble was valued at three florins (six shillings). The silver penny now contained about 1.3 grams and a value of gold-to-silver of about 10.4 to one. But gold was now seen as being undervalued, and a second issue that year increased the Noble to 6s 8d — then a third issue in 1346 reduced the gold to 8.3 grams — and finally a fourth issue in 1351 stabilized its weight (for over 100 years) at 7.8 grams, and a value of gold-to-silver of about 13.33 to one.

In 1360 in France, the gold ecu of 3.75 grams, now worth 240 silver deniers or one livre Tournois, became known as the "franc", paying for "freedom" for the French king, held prisoner by King Edward III in England in the midst of the French-English One Hundred Years War.

In 1412, the level of silver in the penny dropped to just 1 gram and the value of gold-to-silver dropped to about 10.25 to one. In 1464, during the Wars of the Roses, this was rectified with a new issue — the Angel-Noble weighing 5.2 grams and the value of gold-to-silver was corrected, going up to over 15 to one. In that process, the heavier 7.8 gram noble with a new value of ten shillings became known as the royal.

Shortly after, the royal was discontinued, and in 1489 the Sovereign (or double royal), worth 20 shillings and weighing 15.55 grams (one half of a troy ounce), was issued at 23 carat (95.83% fine). Click here for notes on Troy Weights and Carats.

So, all these gold coins were used in Europe to settle international debts. It meant governments employed a "gold standard" in their contracts, defining their currencies as always employing a given level of gold.

The Silver Thaler (Dollar)

In 1524, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared the Cologne Mark at ⅔ of the weight of the 12 ounce London Tower Pound, 8 Tower ounces (233.856 grams) to become the standard weight of all precious metals on the continent (and elsewhere). It was close to the weight in sterling silver of 240 English pennies in 1489, and the value of King Henry VII's £1 gold sovereign.
Accordingly in 1566, the Reichstaler coin was set at the Leipzig Convention for issue employing one-ninth of a Cologne mark of fine silver (25.984 grams). It became a universal currency throughout Europe, in America and Asia, commonly referred to as the "Thaler" or "Dollar". Following the Bavarian Monetary convention of 1751, it was reduced to the Conventionsthaler of one-tenth of a Cologne mark of fine silver (23.39 grams). Its most famous example today is probably the Austrian coin the Maria Theresa Thaler (MTT), first minted in 1741 and still in circulation, weighing 28.0668 grams and with its silver content at 83.333% fine.

The US Dollar

In 1933, US President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that all holdings of gold certificates, gold coins and gold bullion in excess of 160 grams per individual had to be deposited with the US Federal Reserve at Fort Knox at $20.67 per troy ounce accepting US dollar banknotes (like deposit slips) in their place. Only rare and unusual coin collections were exempt, along with special needs businesses e.g. dentists, artists, jewellers. Domestically until 1968 the US was on the silver standard, $US1.29 per troy ounce.

In 1934 the US government devalued its currency in terms of gold to $US35 per troy ounce, a new value of gold-to-silver of 27 to one. It was followed by the Federal Reserve becoming the world's largest central bank or "bankers' bank" as it now held greater stocks of gold than any other country. During World War 2, Fort Knox's vaults stored in excess of 20,000 tons. Today, it holds just 4,500 tons. Click here for more details.

As gold stocks at Fort Knox diminished after the war, in 1971 the US Government stepped in to prevent it from "emptying", taking the dollar off the gold standard, thus causing it to freely float on currency markets.

Today, all currencies are valued in terms of US dollars eg UK pound to USD $1.28, Euro to USD $1.14, AUD to USD $0.73 with the Gold Price per Troy Ounce circa $1200 but having low importance.

Table of Contents

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Bitcoin

China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

England

France

Germany

Greece

India and Indonesia

Israel and Turkey also Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran

Italy

Japan

Netherlands and the Bank of Amsterdam

Portugal

Russia

Spain

United States and Canada

France

Go top to read about France's earlier coins.

In 1577 King Henry III issued a new silver franc coin of about 14 grams. He also reissued the gold Ecu coin weighing 3.2 grams and now worth 3 francs (or livres) a value of gold-to-silver of about 13 to one.

In 1641 King Louis XIII issued a silver Ecu of 25 grams still worth 3 francs, roughly the same as the Spanish Peso or Austrian Thaler (Dollar). Also the gold Pistole or "Louis d'Or" weighing 6.7 grams, the same as the Spanish Doubloon (double escudo) but now worth 10 francs a value of gold-to-silver of about 12½ to one. In 1795 the silver Franc coin was reissued after the French Revolution, now having a weight of just 4½ grams.
This silver Franc continued as the currency of France through World Wars 1 and 2, though in the war years, it was heavily devalued. In 1960 it was replaced by the "new" franc at an exchange rate of 100 to 1. In 1999 France changed to the euro, at a conversion rate of 6.56 francs to the euro.

Greece (from 1832)

Following its wars of independence from the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and with assistance from other governments, in 1832 the Greek government issued the drachma as a paper note and a silver coin, similar to the French franc, with 4½ grams of silver.

After WW1, and following 3 years of an expensive war brought on by Greece's occupation of part of Western Turkey (but places where many Greeks lived), and with Greece's subsequent retreat, in 1922 the Greek government insisted every drachma note be cut in half. The left half became half-value, and the right half was replaced by a 20 year interest bearing bond from the government. When the government did this again in 1926, the popularity of drachma paper, already low, dropped again with many people refusing to accept notes unless they could be exchanged as quickly as possible.

With huge hyperinflation that followed the Nazi invasion 1941-1944, this paper drachma was replaced by a new drachma following Greece's liberation in November 1944, at a ratio of 50 billion old drachma to the new drachma. This occurred again in 1954, though at a lower level, with a ratio of 1000 of this second drachma to another new drachma. This third drachma was then, for a time, pegged to the US dollar at a ratio of thirty to one.

Finally in 2002, the drachma changed to the euro, using a conversion rate of 340.75 drachma to the euro.

Italy

In Sardinia Italy, the 4½ gram silver Lira coin was issued in 1816, corresponding to the silver weight of the coin France was using at that time. It continued to be the currency of Italy through World Wars 1 and 2, though, as happened to the franc in France, the lira was massively devalued. In 1999 Italy changed to the euro, using a conversion rate of 1936.27 lire to the euro.

Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Netherlands

But firstly, Amsterdam, the Royal city and since 1814, the Capital city in the Netherlands

The origins of the Dutch split between The Hague as seat of government and Amsterdam as capital city lay in its peculiar constitutional history. From the middle-ages to the sixteenth century, The Hague had been the seat of government of the County of Holland, but Amsterdam was the more important city. When the Dutch provinces formed an independent republic during the Eighty Years War (1568-1648), Amsterdam actually remained loyal to the Spanish/Burgundian empire until relatively late in that war. This allowed the city a lot of trade opportunities, but made it unsuitable for the seat of government of an emerging 'rebel' state.

In 1602 in the newly opened Bank of Amsterdam, the Reichstaler could be exchanged for 2½ Dutch Guilders, a small gold coin containing 605.61 milligrams fine, or a silver coin of 10.61 grams 91% fine, a value gold-to-silver of almost 16 to 1, and similar to the franc and the florin. The bank, with its banknotes issued for a small fee, was administered by a committee of city government officials that kept its affairs secret. It initially operated on a deposit-only basis, but soon it was allowing depositors to overdraw their accounts, lending large sums to the Municipality of Amsterdam and to the United East Indies Company (Dutch East India Company). All this, eventually, became public knowledge. In 1790, and the French Revolution, the fee (called an agio) on the bank's paper money had dropped from its premium at peak of around 6.25% to a discount of 2%. By the end of the year the bank had to declare itself insolvent, offering to sell its silver at 10% discount. The City of Amsterdam took over direct control in 1791, finally closing the bank in 1819.

Between 1810 and 1814, the Netherlands was annexed to France and the franc. After the Napoleonic wars, the Kingdom of the Netherlands readopted the Guilder. With gold shortages, in 1848 the gold coin was suspended. In 1875 the Netherlands reissued it at 604.8 milligrams fine, suspended it again between 1914 to 1925 and abandoned it in 1936.

In 1961 the silver guilder was revalued at 3.62 guilders to the US dollar, similar to the German Deutschmark. After 1967 guilders were made from nickel instead of silver. In 2002 the guilder was replaced by the euro at an exchange rate of 2.20371 guilders to the Euro.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire

In 1754 Austria issued the Gulden that was worth half a Conventionsthaler, a silver coin of 11.695 grams, called a Forint in Hungary and again similar to the Dutch Guilder and English Florin. In 1857 it was reduced to 11.111 grams in preparation for a closer union with Germany, at exactly two-thirds of their "three shilling" Vereinsthaler ("Union Thaler").

In 1892 it was replaced with a paper currency called a Krone ("Crown") at a ratio of 2 Kronen per Gulden. The government devalued the currency in terms of gold, adopting an exchange rate of 3.28 Kronen per gold gram, 85.05% of a German Mark (83.33% of an English Shilling) and thus not exchangeable with the Mark 1:1.

Following the hyperinflation of WW1 and the breakup of the Empire, in 1923 the Austrian Schilling was issued at 10,000 Kronen to the Schilling. With the invasion by Germany in 1938, this Schilling was replaced by the Reichsmark at a ratio of 3 Schillings for 2 Reichsmarks.

In 1945, the paper schilling was reissued at a ratio to the Reichsmark of 1:1, though at a maximum of 150 schillings per person. This happened again in 1947 with a second issue of paper schillings, a maximum of 150 new schillings per person, but also an exchange of 3 old Austrian schillings (pre-1938) for 1 new schilling. In 2002 Austria changed to the euro, at a conversion rate of 13.7603 schillings to the euro.

Germany

In 1750 the German state of Prussia adopted the "three shilling" Reichsthaler of 16.704 grams, and replaced it in 1857 by the Vereinsthaler ("Union Thaler") of 16.666 grams, being worth exactly 1½ Austrian Gulden or English Florins. Now with Germany's unification in 1871 under Prussian leadership, the "one shilling" German Mark was introduced as one third of a Vereinsthaler, or 5.555 grams of silver. Due to a shortage of gold and silver, a Papiermark issued during WW1 was replaced by a temporary Rentenmark in 1923 and by the Reichsmark in 1924 at a ratio of one trillion Papiermarks to the Reichsmark. After WW2, all Reichsmarks were cancelled in West Germany in 1948. The Deutschmark, initially valued at 30 US cents, was printed by a new Central Bank that monetized all private cancelled debt at a ratio of ten Reichsmarks to the Deutschmark. In 1999 Germany changed to the euro, at a conversion rate of 1.95583 Deutschmarks to the euro.

Spain

About 1350 a small silver coin called a Reale was issued, weighing 3½ grams and valued at 3 Maravedis, their previous debased coinage.

In 1537 the gold Escudo (shield) was issued with about 3.43 grams of gold and valued at 16 reales or two Spanish Pesos, also the Doubloon (double Escudo) valued at 32 reales.

Next the Peso (Piece of Eight Reales) having 27.468 grams of silver was issued in Spain, also in the mints of Mexico and Peru, and corresponded to the German and Austrian "Thaler" above. It accordingly became known in the English language as the Dollar, a name that then spread throughout Africa and Asia, as governments and trade in Indian Rupees, Russian Rubles, Chinese Yuan and Japanese Yen all started pegging their currencies to this Peso, this Dollar.

In 1686 the Spanish Peso was devalued by 20% to 21.912 grams.
In 1869 it was replaced by the Peseta, similar to the franc with 4½ grams of silver. The silver disappeared in 1910. In 2002 Spain changed to the euro, at a conversion rate of 166.386 pesetas to the euro.

Portugal

 

Russia and China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

Russian Ruble to USD $0.015
Chinese Yuan to USD $0.15
Taiwan Dollar to USD $0.03
Hong Kong Dollar to USD $0.13

In 1704, Peter the Great issued the Russian Ruble coin with 28 grams of silver. By the mid-1800s it was down to 12 grams. After the revolutions in Russia (in 1917) and China (in 1949), and in unsettled times, the value of their paper currency was officially set to unrealistic high values. Only a few international trading companies were established, covering their business losses on exports by the competitive edge they had on imports, helping to keep domestic prices low. Also a "black market" (unofficial market) thrived for people prepared to sell the domestic currencies to foreigners at lower rates. In fact, after 1961 Russia set the value of the ruble higher than the US dollar. China, following the second issue of the renminbi yuan in 1955, a little more realistically fixed its value at 40.65 US cents.

Russia: Click here for its official exchange rates from 1993.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, there were several issues of the Soviet Ruble:

  1. First Soviet Ruble in 1918 replacing the Russian Ruble 1:1
  2. Second issue on 1 Jan 1922 replacing the first issue 1:10,000
  3. Third issue on 1 Jan 1923 replacing the second issue 1:100
  4. Fourth issue on 7 Mar 1924 replacing the third issue 1:50,000 by Joseph Stalin on the death of Lenin
  5. Fifth issue on 14 Dec 1947 replacing the fourth issue 1:10 for accounts in excess of 3,000 rubles but leaving salaries the same
  6. Sixth issue on 1 Jan 1961 replacing the fifth issue 1:10
  7. Seventh issue on 22 Jan 1991 - a brief period to exchange old Soviet rubles 1:1 for three days from 23 to 25 January (Wednesday to Friday) but with a specific limit of no more than 1,000 rubles per person

After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, starting with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany in 1990, a new set of Russian ruble banknotes were issued in 1993 in the ratio of 1:1.
On 1 Jan 1998, a second set of banknotes were issued in the ratio of 1:1000.

In terms of the US dollar, Russia devalued the ruble in January 1994 to 45 cents, in Jan 1995 to 22 cents, in Jan 1996 to 19 cents, in Jan 1997 to 17 cents, in Jan 1998 to 10 cents, in Jan 1999 to 4 cents, in Jan 2009 to 3 cents, in Nov 2014 to 2 cents, and in Jan 2015 to 1½ cents.

China: Click here for its monthly exchange rates from 1960. After Communist forces took control in December 1948, the first Renminbi yuan was issued at exchange rates of 1 Renminbi yuan for anywhere up to 3 million old yuan. In 1955, a second Renminbi yuan was issued, worth 10,000 of the first issue and valued at 40.65 US cents.

When the US floated the dollar in 1971, the Chinese government caused the official value of the yuan to increase, until by 1980 it was valued at 65 US cents. In 1979 the Chinese government established a subsidised export price for the yuan at 35 US cents.

This dual track pricing lasted for 15 years, with the two rates dropping steadily. In 1994 the two prices were united at the export price of 12 US cents. This price then lasted until 2005, each year enabling a surplus in China's current account (exports exceeding imports) with the government building up significant stocks of gold and US bonds. Since then the government has allowed the yuan to increase in value a little. The yuan is currently priced at 15 US cents, but still undervalued from a US perspective.

Taiwan: Click here for its monthly exchange rates from 2000. Taiwan was occupied by Japan from 1895, and the yen was their official currency, at par with the mainland's silver yuan. In 1946 after the Japanese troops left, the Bank of Taiwan issued the Taiwan dollar, at par with this yen. However, ongoing fighting caused the Taiwan dollar's value to depreciate rapidly.

After the Communist capture of Beijing by Mao Zedong in January 1949, the old mainland government, led by Chiang Kai Shek, fled to Taiwan in February 1949 taking their gold reserves with them. A new currency, the New Taiwan dollar was issued by the Bank of Taiwan in June 1949, at an exchange price of 40,000 old Taiwan dollars. The Bank of Taiwan was now the Central Bank for Chiang Kai Shek's government in Taiwan.

Note that until 2000, the old mainland's silver yuan was also legal tender, with many old statutes having fines and fees given in this currency. One silver yuan was valued at 3 New Taiwan dollars, about 30 US cents, and until 2000 a more popular currency.

In the 1960's, the value of the NT$ dropped from 10 US cents to 2½ US cents, enabling a strong export market to grow. For the Taiwan government, it meant an increase in its reserves of US currency. In 2000, the Central Bank of China replaced the Bank of Taiwan in issuing NT$ bills. It is currently valued at 3 US cents.

Hong Kong: Click here for its monthly exchange rates from 1953. The Hong Kong silver dollar was issued at par with the US and Spanish Mexican dollar in 1863, with a UK value of four shillings and tuppence. In 1935 it decoupled from its silver standard, dropping to a UK value of one shilling and threepence.

Since 1972, it has been pegged to the US dollar. Currently it is overseen by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which, along with three local banks (HSBC, Bank of China and Standard Chartered) issue their own designs of banknotes, with all designs being similar to the other (in the same denomination of banknote).

It is currently valued at $0.13 US cents.

Japan

USD to Japanese Yen 113

In 1871, Japan issued the Yen silver coin with 24.26 grams of fine silver, and pegged its value to the US Dollar in terms of silver and gold. In 1884, the Bank of Japan was granted a monopoly by its government in issuing paper banknotes, resulting in the Yen's devaluation to $US0.50 by 1897. The Yen remained fixed at this rate following Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910, in its war with Communist Russia 1918-1922, right up to its invasion of Manchuria in 1931. Following some upheaval, the Yen dropped in value to $US0.30 with no clear exchange rate issued after 1941 and Japan's entering WW2.

At the close of the war in 1945, Japan was occupied by the US army for seven years to assist with the rebuilding of its economy and as a bulwark against Russian expansionism. Between 1947 and 1949, approximately 5,800,000 acres (23,000 km2) of land (approximately 38% of Japan's cultivated land) were purchased from landlords under the government's reform program and resold at extremely low prices (after inflation) to the farmers who worked them. By 1950, three million peasants had acquired land, dismantling a power structure that the landlords had long dominated.

On April 25 1949 the US occupation government fixed the value of the yen at ¥360 per US$1. During the next post war years, the Japanese government maintained a steady surplus in its current account (exports exceeding imports) enabling its government bonds to become a safe haven for investors.

After the US government floated the dollar in 1971, the Japanese government, carefully, did likewise with the yen, and it steadily increased in value on the open market. By 1995, it had increased over 400% to ¥80 per US$1. Since that time the government has pursued a policy of zero to negative interest rates, causing land prices, in fact many prices to plunge as investors search for other "safe haven" investment opportunities. Today the value of the yen is about ¥113 per US$1.

India and Indonesia
First, India
India Rupee to USD $0.014

The Indian rupee historically contained about 11½ grams of silver (and was worth about two English shillings). However, like the devalued yuan, ruble, and yen, traders could insist on the coin being at parity with the dollar (i.e. at about four English shillings and tuppence).

Indonesia
USD to Indonesia rupiah 14,600

Early in 1942, the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, taking control of the whole country by March. On their invasion ships, they brought their own issue of the local money, the Dutch gulden. Massive overprinting of this paper resulted in hyperinflation. The Japanese money continued to circulate after the war, as Indonesia prepared for independence, also with many towns printing their own currency.

In November 1949, Indonesia was granted independence from the Netherlands. Inflation involving their new currency, the rupiah, continued.

In 1965, the "new" rupiah was introduced at a rate of 1000 of the "old" rupiyah.

Inflation has continued to skyrocket. Currently, the rupiah is valued at 14,600 to the US dollar.

England and United Kingdom

UK pound to USD $1.28
UK pound to Euro 1.12

Go top to read about England's earlier coins.

In England in 1489, King Henry VII issued a large gold coin, the English Sovereign, weighing 15.55 grams and minted in 23 carat i.e. 95.83% fine. It was valued at £1 sterling, 20 shillings of 12 heavy pennies of 1 gram of silver at 92.5% fine, 240 grams — a value gold-to-silver of 15½ to one. Over the following 115 years, the silver content in pennies and shillings then steadily decreased by government policy as England showed its preference when making trade payments for using gold, and its preference when it came to receiving payment, for silver.

Thus the heavy gold Sovereign became an international standard that increased in value to 30 shillings by about 1550, until discontinued in 1604 in the reign of King James. The 5.2 grams gold English coin called an Angel-Noble escalated in a similar way in value from 80 pennies (6s 8d) in 1464 to be worth 10 shillings. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the silver shilling coin was issued with just 6 grams of sterling silver, and a new 10 grams gold coin worth £1, was minted in 22 carat (91.67% fine). This latter coin was called a "Unite" after 1604, and continued until 1662, rising in value, when it was replaced with the 8 gram Guinea coin (7.32 grams fine). The Guinea's value started at 20 shillings, and again escalated to 30 shillings.

The Gold Standard: In 1717, the guinea's value was officially "fixed" at 21 silver shillings by Sir Isaac Newton, the "master" of the Royal Mint. A declaration of government guaranteed exchange, in silver or gold, it increased the popularity of Bank of England banknotes, making the Bank of England a bankers' bank.

In 1817 after the wars with France, the Sovereign £1 gold coin was reissued, same weight as the Guinea coin but down to 20 shillings. Minting then ceased in London in 1917 during the 1st World War, followed by the branches: Bombay 1918, Ottawa 1919, Sydney 1926, Melbourne and Perth 1931, Pretoria 1932. Minting restarted in London in 1957, though mostly for collectors.

While in 1933, the position of being the world's largest "bankers' bank" gradually shifted to the USA, with their opening of Fort Knox.

In 1949, the British government devalued the £1 note by 30% to $US2.80, previously it had been valued at $US4.03 (and before 1940, at about $US5.00). After 1967 it was devalued again to $US2.40, then after the US floated the dollar in 1971, the £1 also floated up and down on international exchange markets (click here for a graph) at around the $US1.50 mark. Currently in 2018 it is valued at about $US1.28, or about 1.12 Euro.

Israel / Palestine and Turkey (from 1688)

Israeli Shekel to USD $0.27
Turkish Lira to USD $0.19

Click here for currencies of other Muslim Middle East countries that surround Israel specifically Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.

Turkey: The Kurus was introduced to the Ottoman Empire in 1688. It was initially a large silver coin, approximately equal to the French Ecu or the Spanish Dollar. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, debasement reduced it to a billon (i.e. mostly copper) coin weighing less than 3 grams. Referred to as a "piastre" in Cyprus, having a value little more than an English penny.

In 1844 the Ottoman gold Lira coin and banknote were introduced, worth 100 kurus, slightly less than the English pound with 1 Lira = 6.61519 grams fine gold or 99.8292 grams fine silver. Following World War I, Turkey's gold Lira coin took on an exchange value of about nine Lira in paper banknotes. With a new Turkish republic in 1923 and a gradual formation of a new central bank, there were numerous bankruptcies as much of the previous government's high foreign debt was apparently frozen until after WW2. Click here for more details. In 1946, the lira was officially devalued to one tenth of its previous value, from 0.28 lira to the US dollar, to 2.8 lira to the US dollar. In 1960, it was devalued to 9 to the US dollar, 1980 to 90 to the US dollar, 1988 to 1300 to the US dollar, 1995 to 45,000 to the US dollar, 2005 (at the start of Mr Erdogan's government) to 1,290,000 to the US dollar. In 2005 the new lira was introduced, worth one million of the old lira. In 2018, this lira held an exchange value of about 19 US cents.

Palestine, Gaza Strip and Israel: Over in Palestine, following the institution of the British Mandate in 1917, the Egyptian pound note, pegged to 97½% of the British pound sterling, circulated alongside that devalued Turkish Lira. In 1927 the Palestine pound, worth 1000 mils, was introduced by the British as a new currency equivalent to the British pound sterling.

With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, printing of these pound notes (called lira Eretz-Yisraelit) came from the Anglo-Palestine Bank, a bank that had been established in 1902. In 1952 the bank changed its name to the Israel National Bank (Bank Leumi Le-Yisrael) and the official currency became the Israeli pound (lira Yisraelit) having as a symbol I£.

In 1954 the pegging to the British pound note was dropped, and in 1955 Israel established the Bank of Israel to issue banknotes.

On 24 February 1980, the Israeli pound was replaced by the shekel at a ratio of 10 shekels to the pound.

After a period of hyper-inflation, on 1st January 1986 this shekel was replaced by the "New Shekel" at a ratio of 1000 Old Shekels to the New Shekel.

In 2018 the New Shekel held an exchange value of about 27 US cents.

Bitcoin (since 2009)

Bitcoin to USD circa $6,000

Click here for further statistics and notes on using Bitcoin. For stability it is restricted to about one block of "confirmation" transactions added to the blockchain every 10 minutes, averaging about three transactions per second. The maximum size for a block is about one megabyte, with an eventual "miner" being allowed to take an extra commission in new bitcoins. So technically it is more like a specialist peer-to-peer Internet bank than a serious currency, as sellers have to "outbid" other users (by offering additional bitcoin commissions to miners) in order to take precedence in its transaction "mempool" queue. In August 2017, a new currency, based on Bitcoin but with a larger block size (called "Bitcoin Cash") was launched.
But here is some of Bitcoin's background. Note, bitcoins themselves can be broken down to 8 decimal places.

In 2009 the source code for the bitcoin technology was released on the Internet. Click here for an interview with the man who was probably its inventor, according to its earliest users.

In 2018 there are 9000 - 10,000 "reachable" nodes each with their own copy of the full Bitcoin master file about 180 gigabytes in size. There are now about 17 million bitcoins on issue and valued at about $US 100 billion (about $6,000 per bitcoin) as a result of supply and demand.

Bitcoin transactions are associated with four codes — 1) an old public key and signature, both generated automatically by 2) the old owner's private key and 3) a new public key, generated automatically by 4) the new owner's private key.

These private keys are 256 bit long encryption keys, formed using a random number generator inside the Bitcoin program. They are stored, either on paper or in a "wallet" file on your smartphone, on your computer, or at a trusted agency computer exchange. The length of the owner's private key provides for 1077 power in variations, and is designed to protect owners from a brute force attack by hackers. Click here for recent comments on its security. If that security is compromised, the complexity could be strengthened.

When transferring bitcoins, the transferor uses their private key to input a signature code — 568bits, 576bits or 584bits long — confirming the transferor's ownership of an earlier transaction by the code's ability to convert into the 264bit public key at that earlier transaction address. The transferee's private key outputs a new public key, and that is stored on the master file as a new record, together with the number of transferred bitcoins, at the next available address. The transferor creates a record for any balance. Click here to read more about this algorithm.

So, if the new owner's private key is stolen, so probably are the coins relating to that bitcoin transaction. If the private key is lost, so are the bitcoins.

Currently there are 12½ bitcoins in a commission every 10 minutes. It had started as 50 bitcoins in Jan 2009. At 210,000 blocks and 10½ million bitcoins in Nov 2012 it halved to 25. At 420,000 blocks and 15¾ million bitcoins in Jul 2016 it halved again.

Mining pools involve tens of thousands of specialist computers seeking to earn the commission by publishing a block. Each block contains a timestamp and hash pointer linking to the previous block, forming a "blockchain". "Success" is awarded by the mining pool first solving a difficult randomised mathematical problem, then having the longest chain i.e. the most combined difficulty if two miners arrive at a solution for the same block simultaneously on different nodes. One block will thus be "accepted", the other is "orphaned". Once a block is accepted by 51% of the nodes, it is inherently secure.

Note too that once your bitcoins are spent, there's no way to "freeze" a transaction, or undo it, like you can with Paypal. All that can be seen is the transaction address of the new record they were sent to. It is this anonymity that is their greatest attraction (and danger). See a simple example of an input and an output Transaction here.

U.S.A. and Canada

Finally, the US and Canada. In 1792, the US Dollar coin was issued with a weight of 24.056 grams of fine silver, or $1.29 per troy ounce of 31.103 grams. It corresponded to the Spanish Peso and its Pieces of 8 (Reales or Bits). As well as one cent copper coins, other silver coins were the dime (10 cents) and the quarter (25 cents or 2 bits). In 1837 the dollar was valued as 1.505 grams of gold, a value of gold-to-silver of 16 to one.

The wars in Europe and the US's civil war in 1860 led to a growing reliance on paper money everywhere, and was a major factor in the worldwide collapse in the value of silver. In 1870 due to a perceived oversupply in the marketplace, the price of silver bullion halved in relation to gold. In 1873 the US embraced just the gold standard, $20.67 per troy ounce.

As mentioned at the start of this article, in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that all holdings of gold certificates, gold coins and gold bullion in excess of 160 grams per individual had to be deposited with the US Federal Reserve at Fort Knox, accepting US dollar banknotes (like deposit slips) in their place. Only rare and unusual coin collections were exempt, along with special needs businesses e.g. dentists, artists, jewellers. Domestically until 1968 the US was on the silver standard.

In 1934 the US government devalued its currency in terms of gold to $US35 per troy ounce, a new value of gold-to-silver of 27 to one. It was followed by the Federal Reserve becoming the world's largest central bank or "bankers' bank" as it now held greater stocks of gold than any other country. During World War 2, Fort Knox's vaults stored in excess of 20,000 tons. Today, it holds just 4,500 tons. Click here for more details.

As gold stocks at Fort Knox diminished after the war, in 1971 the US Government stepped in to prevent it from "emptying", taking the dollar off the gold standard, thus causing it to freely float on currency markets. In 1974 the 160 grams limit on gold holdings by private individuals in the US was revoked.

Canada

CAD to USD $0.76

In Canada, the provinces used both the British pound sterling and the US dollar with the exchange rate between them fixed at £1 = $4.86⅔. In 1857, the decision was made to introduce a Canadian dollar into the Province of Canada, pegged to the gold standard and the US dollar. The other provinces followed suit.

Extract from Wikipedia: The gold standard in Canada was temporarily abandoned during the First World War and definitively abolished on April 10, 1933. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the exchange rate to the US dollar was fixed at C$1.10 = US$1.00. This was changed to parity in 1946. In 1949, the British pound sterling was devalued and Canada followed, returning to a peg of C$1.10 = US$1.00. However, Canada allowed its dollar to float in 1950, whereupon the currency rose to a slight premium over the US dollar for the next decade. But the Canadian dollar fell sharply after 1960 before it was again pegged in 1962 at C$1.00 = US$0.925. This peg lasted until 1970, after which the currency's value has floated.

In 2018 the Canadian dollar held an exchange value of 76 US cents.


 

 

1260 (35.3g) — 1270 (23.5g) — 1280 (21.4g) — 1300 (19.0g) — 1310 (16.2g) — 1320 (12.8g) — 1330 (14.4g) — 1340 (12.2g) — 1350 (11.5g) — 1360 (11.6g) — 1370 (11.1g) — 1380 (10.6g) — 1390 (9.3g) — 1400 (9.2g) — 1410 (8.8g) —1420 (8.7g) — 1430 (8.6g) — 1440 (7.7g) — 1460 (7.1g) — 1470 (6.9g) — 1480 (6.3g) — 1490 (5.9g) — 1500 (5.6g) — 1530 (5.2g) — 1540 (5.0g) — 1550 (4.5g) — 1710 (4.3g) — 1730 (4.2g) — 1740 (3.9g) — 1780 (3.8g)

Data: R. A. Goldthwaite, The building of Renaissance Florence (Baltimore/ London, 1980), pp. 429-30; M. Bernocchi, Le monete della Repubblica fiorentina (Firenze, 1974-78).

Extract from pierre-marteau.com/wiki/index.php?title=Italy:Money#Florence

** End of Report

Go top