RUSSIAN COINS FROM THE 16TH-17TH CENTURIES

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In order to improve currency circulation, the government of Elena Glinskaya, who became regent under the minor Ivan IV (1533-1584), undertook a monetary reform in 1535-1538, aimed at unifying the state coinage system. All the variety of old coins were forbidden. New nationwide money valued at three rubles began to be minted from one silver ingot. The largest denomination was Novgorod money weighting 0.68 g, which was called kopeck due to the image of a rider with a spear placed on the front side. The close association of a kopeck with a ruble was reflected in the proverb "A kopeck saves a ruble". Moskovka, or denga with the image of a rider holding a sabre had a twice less weight. The inscription on the reverse side of those coins contained a few lines with the name and title of the sovereign. The smallest silver coin was polushka of 0.17 g, making up a quarter kopeck, or half a denga. On the obverse of polushka coins, there was an image of a dove, and on the reverse – the title "Sovereign" or the place of minting. From 1547, a new title "Tsar and Grand Prince of All Russia" appeared on kopecks and denga of Ivan the Terrible.

Coin – dengaCoin – denga“Yefimok with a countermark”“Yefimok with a countermark” (reverse)

From 1530s, the monetary system looked as follows: ruble (100 kopecks), poltina (50 kopecks), hryvna (ingot, 10 kopecks), altyn (three kopecks), kopeck (equal to two denga, or four polushka). The money account was usually kept in rubles, altyn and denga. All large monetary units above a kopeck were just monetary units.

A kopeck weight, established in 1535-1538, remained unchanged until the beginning of the 17th century when under Vassily Shuisky, during the Time of Troubles, it was reduced to 0,64 g (1606-1610) and then to 0,60 g. In 1610, due to the lack of silver in the treasury and the need to pay salaries to Swedish mercenaries, gold kopeck and denga were put into circulation at the price of ten and five kopecks respectively. After occupying Moscow in 1610, the Poles began issuing silver and gold coins on behalf of the Polish King Wladyslaw IV Vasa (1610-1612), who was proclaimed the Russian Tsar. The invaders continued to exploit the money business for extra profit. In 1611, the weight norm of a silver kopeck was reduced to 0.51 g in Moscow, and in 1612 it was lowered even more.

In 1612, the Second Patriotic Movement of Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky revived in Yaroslavl the minting of coins with the name of Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich as the last "genuine" ruler, and initially adhered to the weight norm of 0.60 g for a kopeck, but then reduced it to 0.51 g. The Zemsky Sobor (local government assembly) elected Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov (1613-1645) for the throne, and the mints in Moscow and Pskov began coining money with the name of the new sovereign. After the conclusion of the Treaty of Stolbovo with the Swedish Empire and the return of Veliky Novgorod to the Russian state, Mikhail Fyodorovich started minting coins at Novgorod Mint as well.

During the reign of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich (1654-1676) an attempt was made to change the archaic monetary system of the Russian state. In the mid-17th century, the development of commodity-money relations, the growth and strengthening of the Russian market, the accretion of the state power and the accession of Ukraine in 1654 made it necessary to improve the country's monetary system. The tasks of the 1654 monetary reform were to introduce a set of large and small denominations, to implement copper as a monetary metal, and to begin minting ruble oriented on West European thaler.

 

Coin - polupoltinaCoin - polupoltina (reverse)KopeckKopeck

Silver rubles made by recoining thalers were put into circulation, as well as polupoltina, or polupoltinnik (25 kopecks), stamped on a cut in four parts thalers. Copper poltina or poltinnik and gold altyn were also produced.

The public's lack of confidence in new coins, which clearly were of forced exchange, led the government to abandoning its initial reform plan. A full-value high denomination coin – "yefimok with a countermark" was created in 1655.

The facial countermark of the ordinary kopeck and a small rectangular mark with the date "1655" minted on European thaler made it equal 64 kopecks. Silver coins of 1654-1655 remained in circulation at their face-value until 1659.

It was decided to issue new denominations out of copper. Mass chasing of copper kopecks and money in a lesser value – grosh or groshevik (two kopeck-pieces) began. Copper coinage, following the model of silver kopecks that was already familiar to ordinary people, apparently began in Moscow. There were the Old and the New Copper Mints, and around 1659 the third one – the Court Mint was open.

The population initially accepted the usual form of copper kopecks. But the increased production of copper coins provoked inflation, caused a sharp rise in prices, disorganized the economy, and led to the Copper Riot in Moscow in 1662. The minting stopped in 1663, and those coins were repurchased at a rate of 100 copper kopecks for one silver kopeck. In fact, the 1663 monetary reform was the nullification of copper coins as tokens of value.

Silver kopecks were no longer able to meet the increasing demands of the market by the end of the 17th century. The coinage system was a serious handicap for a country which was embarking on a path of great transformation.

The beginning of the systematic minting of silver rubles and wide implementation of various European coins into the country's monetary circulation were connected with the name of Peter the Great (1682-1725). The monetary reform of 1698-1704 built on the decimal principle formed the most advanced monetary system in Europe. First, the weight of a kopeck was reduced to 0.28 g, which brought the weight of a ruble closer to the weight of a thaler. The date letter notation "since the creation of the world" was again put on the tsar's kopecks in 1696, while dating was from the Nativity of Christ was introduces after January 1700.