JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen re: Lithuanian groshes (coins) #general


Celia Male <celiamale@...>
 

When Lee Nydell asked about the monetary value of 1460
Lithuanian groshes (coins) in 1626 [was it a little or
a lot of money?] my immediate reaction was that it was
a small sum. But how wrong can one be?

The term groschen [Austria] today generally signifies
a trifle. However if you read German you see that the
groschen has under gone a complete sea change >from a
valuable coin in 1271 when it was first introduced
[being derived >from gross=thick, ultimately >from the
Latin] to a trifling value when it was one hundreth of
an Austrian Schilling in the 1920s. An Austrian
Schilling was not worth that much either so you can
see a groschen is a small coin like a penny, cent or
sous: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groschen

In 1626, groschen/groshe must have been worth
considerably more. In fact here we have an indication
of how much this was: "In 1514 {the Jews of Pinsk]
were included in the confirmation of privileges ......
of Lithuania by King Sigismund, whereby ....freed from
special military duties and taxes and placed on an
equality, ..... with the other inhabitants of the
land..... They were included among the Jewish
communities of Lithuania upon which a tax of 1,000 kop
groschen was imposed by the king in 1529, the entire
sum to be subject to a pro rata contribution
determined upon by the communities."

see: http://www.jewishgen.org/belarus/je_pinsk.htm

I have just read this amusing account of the coin and
its history vis-a-vis the rouble and yiddish
vernacular:

http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/yampol/yam090.html

There were even silver groschen in Prussia - which
attests to their higher status. For the value of
silver groschen see:

http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/Sosnowiec/Sos273.html

These types of currency conversions are notoriously
difficult unless we have precise data on average
earnings in that area and in that era. Hopefully
someone, somewhere has the missing link.

Celia Male [U.K.]

Footnote: In the General Discussion Group archives I
found an unanswered question in 1997: "Does anyone
have any suggestions as to how I can determine the
present dollar value of the 1827 Polish gilden and
groschen?"

But in this question today, we are going even further
back, namely to Lithuania in 1626 - **help**. CM

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