Project Description

2013+ HISTORY OF POLISH COINS by the National Bank of Poland

There’s little more interesting in modern coins than a series that looks at coins of old. While looking at all the latest and greatest issues from the high-tech mints of today, it’s easy to forget what an integral part of history coins are, especially the further back in time you go. The National Bank of Poland started a series back in 2013 that continues to this day, called ‘History of Polish Coin’.

Each of the sterling 0.925 silver coins showcases a coin from Poland’s history, going right back to the first such issue by Boleslaw the Brave in the 990’s. The series has been divided into three main parts. The first three issues (the titles below have a red border), constitute the Denarii of the Boleslaws from the 10th-12th centuries, the second part (blue border), the Middle Ages from the 12th-15th centuries. The last and current phase (yellow border), covers the coins of the Commonwealth from the 16th to the 18th century. Weights have varied over time. The first two issues were 7.07 gram coins of 24 mm diameter. Through 2014, the weight increased to 14.14 g, with an increase in diameter to 32 mm. For 2015 issues and onward, the weight doubled to 28.28 g and the diameter to 38.61 mm. It’s certainly unusual to see a series change specification like this, but not a major negative regardless.

What makes this series work so well is the way the designer, Dominika Karpińska-Kopiec, has incorporated and framed the original coins on the new one. The reverse face reproduces the same face of the original issue, in most cases, in its entirety. There’s often some modern reinterpretation of elements of the originals in the background field. The obverse likewise has a reproduction of the original, also with modern imagery in the background where needed. All of the modern requirements of a Polish coin, the spread-eagle and issue details, are all ring-fenced in a small ‘coinlet’ on the obverse.

A few of the coins have some gilded areas, but at heart it’s a simple proof finish series relying on its depiction of old numismatics rather than gimmickry. If you have any interest in the coins of old, this is about the best of the modern offerings at bringing them to life. Each coin comes in a small box with a certificate of authenticity, although a couple of early issues were card mounted. Up until the end of 2016, each coin had a mintage of 20,000 pieces. The next two years saw that reduced slightly to 18,000 coins, while 2019 reduced it further to 13,000. A 2020 issue is coming in June next year, featuring the Gdansk Złoty of Augustus III. This has a mintage of 12,000, so lower still.

What the NBP does better than anyone else is the backstory to each coin. We’ve reproduced the excellent explanations of each coin by Stanislaw Suchodolsk, which are fascinating reading for anyone interested in coin history. There are some really fascinating characters there, although the name ‘Elbow-high’ would send the current generation of the greatly offended into apoplectic fits. As we said earlier, the series is ongoing with a new one mid-2020 already confirmed. A super series about the history of a country with a turbulent and rich one.

2013 Denarius of Boleslaw I the Brave

Until recently, it has been widely held that Mieszko I (approx.960-992 AD) was the founder of the Polish coinage. But when it was proven that the coins with the name Misico had not been minted by Mieszko I, but by his grandson Mieszko II (approx. 1013-1025-1034 AD), it turned out that the first Polish ruler to have struck a coin was Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslaw i the Brave, 992-1025). As 17 different types of silver denarii were minted under the reign of the latter monarch, it was unknown for a long time, which of them was the oldest one. Among the coins were long-known and extremely valuable coins with the symbolic portrait of the prince and the name of the town of Gniezno, (GNEZDVN CiViTAs – the borough of Gniezno) or with a depiction of a peacock and the oldest reference to the name of Poland (PriNCEs POlONiE – the ruler of Poland).

Finally, recently discovered and still very rare denarii – dating back to the end of the 10th century – featuring the depiction of an arrow emerging from a bunch of six twigs have been considered to be the oldest Polish coins. The image on the coin probably refers to Christian symbolism, as this was widely present also on other coins from that period. The arrow is the symbol of the God’s Word, while the twigs symbolize a simplified Tree of life.

Around this depiction, there is an inscription: BOliZlAVO DVX (Bolesław the Prince). On the original coin the words were mistakenly put in the reverse order (see the drawing on the box). In the currently issued coin, for educational purposes, the words are set in the right order. What attracts attention is an atypical form of the monarch’s name – spelled with “i” in the middle and “o” at the end – but this was how Bolesław was also named in some other writings from that period.

The tail of the coin, i.e. its reverse, features no inscription. The entire area of the coin is just a single depiction – a crosslet of the Byzantine type with crossed arms and small circles placed at their ends. Similar crosses appear on silver Byzantine coins from the 10th century. Polish coins, however, borrowed this motif from Danish coins. It is possible that Danish influence is linked to the marriage of Chrobry’s sister with Danish King Harald Bluetooth.

Only few coins have survived (3 pieces), which might imply that the volume of the oldest Polish coinage was not extensive. The minting of coins was initiated in order to make an effect rather than for economic reasons. However, Bolesław Chrobry’s intention was to demonstrate not his autonomy but the fact that he belonged in the circle of the rulers of Christian Europe. Stanisław Suchodolsk

2013 Denarius of Boleslaw II the Bold

At the final period of Boleslaw I the Brave’s rule, Polish coins ceased to be struck. It was only half a century later when his great-grandson – Boleslaw II the Bold – started to mint new coins. The latter ruler did not, however, stick to the mintage habits of his great forefather. While previously several types of coins had been struck in small volumes, under Boleslaw II the Bold only two basic types of coins were issued. The first of them (type 1) appeared when Boleslaw ruled yet as a prince. The second one (type 2) appeared following his coronation to the King of Poland, which took place in 1076. Hundreds of these coins have survived until present, so they must have been minted on a mass scale. This corroborates the thesis that they were aimed for general circulation and served primarily economic purposes.

The obverse of type 1 coin depicts the head of the Prince in profile with his name, devoid of any title, written around the image. The reverse again shows an image of the Prince, this time mounted on a horse, holding a spear and a shield in his hands. For the purposes of the present issue series, we have chosen type 2 coin – the royal one. From the first glance, there is no doubt that the coin depicts a king. The obverse holds a schematic image of the bust in profile, with a protruding crown on his head and a sword in his hand. The reverse side depicts a three-spire structure topped with domes. It is most probably a symbolic representation of the royal residence. This may be either his Krakow-based palatium, or the Krakow as such – as it was the capital of Poland at his times.

The imagery on both coin types may be said to be void of any elements related to sacred symbolism – in its stead the symbols employed on the coins manifest the prestige of the ruler. Even though type 2 coins bear no name of the monarch, the recipients of the coins had no doubt that the coins were issued by the holder of the royal insignia – King Boleslaw.

What makes, however, the value of the coin is not just the visual side of it, but rather – and perhaps even more significantly – the metal from which it was struck. The royal denarii of Boleslaw II the Bold contain unusually little silver, and the content of their latest issues is almost exclusively copper. This monetary fraud may have been one of the reasons behind the resistance of the people against the monarch, which in consequence led to his dethroning. Stanisław Suchodolski

2014 Denarius of Boleslaw III the Wry-mouthed

Denarius of Prince Boleslaw III the Wry-mouthed is the third coin in the series. Type 2 was selected from among the six types of coins minted during his reign. The obverse depicts the prince on a throne holding a sword in his right hand, his left hand raised in the air. The sword is a royal insignia, a forecast of strong but fair rule, while the raised hand promises peace to those commended to the care and protection of the ruler. The reverse shows a religious symbol – a cross with four dots between its arms.

The inscriptions that surround the representations are no less interesting. On the obverse, the likeness of the prince is accompanied by his name BOLEZLAVS, and the reverse says DENARIVS. On another variety of the coin, the legends are intertwined and the inscription says: DVCIS BOLEZLAI – DENARIVS, which means “Denarius of Prince Boleslaw.” This is the only instance in the early Middle Ages that a Polish coin would state its denomination. This confirms information we have from written sources that coins issued at that time were indeed denarii.

We believe that Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed started minting these extraordinary denarii at an important moment, i.e. in 1107. That was when he seized full power to rule the country, removing his stepbrother Zbigniew.

It should be noted that Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed issued relatively many types of coins. His father, Władysław Herman, issued only one coin type for twenty years of his rule, and the appearance of the coins did not change. However, forced by the political and economic situation, Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed started a new monetary policy. It consisted in regular replacement of coins in circulation with new coins, with different presentations. The exchange rate was, of course, unfavourable to his people, for example only two new denarii were given for three old ones. This way of gaining profit was considerably expanded by Boleslaw the Wry-mouthed’s sons, especially by Mieszko III the Old. Stanisław Suchodolski

2014 Bracteate of Mieszko III the Elder

Coin minting under the rule of Mieszko III the Elder (1173–1177 and 1181–1202) opens a new period in the history of Polish coinage – the period of bracteates or thin coins struck on one side only. They replaced the heavier, double-sided silver coins which had been in circulation until then.

At the same time, the number of coin types significantly increased. More than 50 types are attributed to Mieszko III. Different presentations of the Prince, St. Adalbert and brutes, real and fantastic, appear on those coins. Also coins with no images at all, with inscriptions only, are known. It is also surprising that the inscriptions on the coins attributed to Mieszko III are not only in Latin but also in Hebrew. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that mints employed Jews, who also rented mint income. The income was generated during the exchange of coins carried out periodically. Such a “ renovation of the coin”, which took place even three times a year, explains the abundance of coin types.

A bracteate with the image of a lion looking to the left, but with its head facing backwards, has been chosen for the series illustrating the history of Polish coins. It is accompanied by a circumscription along the rim, which due to its form and content is totally unique. A sentence in Polish, meaning “Polish King Mieszko”, was written in Hebrew letters. However, since Mieszko, as it is known, was not a crowned head, naming him king means that in the eyes of the Jewish minters he was a powerful ruler, outdoing minor local princes in importance. In this context, we can guess that the lion – the king of animals – impersonated Mieszko III.

On our new coin, the image of the lion from the frame of the Gniezno Doors refers to the lion from the bracteate of Mieszko III, while on the reverse, we see a scene modelled on the paten which Mieszko III donated to the Cistercian abbey in Ląd. The images depict the donor Prince (on the left), St. Nicholas – the patron saint of the monastery (in the centre) and Abbot Simon (on the right). Stanisław Suchodolski

2014 Bracteate of Leszek the White

The end of the 12th century and the whole of 13th century was a period dominated by bracteates, i.e. thin, one-sided coins. At the same time, it was the darkest period in the history of the Polish minting, coinciding with the fragmentation of Poland. It was the time of simultaneous rule over the Polish territory by many princes, each of them minting their own coins. Most of these coins have no inscriptions at all, which makes identification of the issuers extremely difficult. Some aid in this area has been provided by the large coin hoard recently discovered in Cracow, which had been hidden in the first half of the 13th century. From this find comes the bractreate depicting a winged dragon. The coin was most likely struck under the rule of Prince Leszek the White (1206-1227).

The image of a specimen of this very bracteate was placed on the reverse of the new coin, the fifth in our series. The dragon is turned to the left, with its head turned backwards, wings spread out wide and the tail curled under its body. This monster either symbolises the Prince’s power or, perhaps, it was meant to ward off any evil spirits which might threaten the monarch. The outline of the façade of the Late Romanesque Cistercian church in Sulejów was used as the background.

Our coin’s obverse also features two groups of elements. On the one hand, the coin particulars including the State emblem and name, face value and the year of issue. On the other hand, the Prince’s seal depicting the Prince standing in full armour with a spear and a pennant in one hand and a shield in the other. The legend contains data missing from the bracteate: +SIGIL[LVM] LESTCONIS D-VCIS POLONI-E (the seal of Leszek, Prince of Poland). Stanisław Suchodolsk

2015 Florin of Ladislas the Elbow-high

The coinage of Ladislas the Elbow-high (1306 –1333) has transition features. On the one hand, it is inspired by the previous bracteates period, where small coins reigned. On the other hand, it also exhibits characteristics of a coming groat period. These coins are now not single-sided, thin bracteates anymore, they are double-sided denarii. However, according to Ryszard Kiersnowski, the most famous coin ‘worthy of a place among the most prominent historical monuments of the Polish Middle Ages’ is a florin, called ducat in the past. This is the first Polish coin made in gold, which is ahead for about two hundred years of next issues in this ore.

The obverse shows the king on the throne, with a crown on his head, and a lily sceptre and a reign apple in his hands. Circular inscription: WLADISLAVS D[e]I G[ratia] REX explains that this is ‘Ladislas, by the Grace of God, the King’. On the reverse, there is a figure of a standing bishop, with a halo around his head, and a mitre on it. In his left hand he holds a crosier, and he rises the right one to the blessing. As legend holds, S[anctus] STANISLAVS POL[oni]E, is Stanislaus – the saint of Poland.

In the past, this magnificent and unusual coin was associated with the Royal Coronation of Ladislas the Elbow-high in 1320. Ryszard Kiersnowski’s study has shown that the coin was issued later, in 1330 only. It was connected with double indulgence established in honour of Saint Stanislaus (8 May and 27 September) by the Pope. To obtain it, the faithful lodged two foreign golden coins which were in circulation at that time. Ore obtained in this way enabled the king to mint his own coin. It helped him to make war with the Teutonic Knights. The issue was not large and is estimated at several thousand pieces. Only one of them has preserved to our times. This is a pride of Emeryk Hutten-Czapski’s collection which is kept in the National Museum in Cracow.

On the currently minted collector coin, besides the representation of the florin presented here, one can see the portrait of Ladislas the Elbow-high taken from his tomb sculpture situated in the Wawel Cathedral. On the other side of the coin, the king is imaged on his seal of majesty, sitting in state on his throne. This image correlates well with the same motif on the florin. The similarity is not accidental – the author of coin dies probably relied on an older and more carefully elaborated seal. Stanisław Suchodolski

2015 Grosz of Casimir the Great

Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki) (1333 -1370) introduced fundamental changes to the Polish minting system. In addition to a variety of denarii that were still minted, he also issued three larger silver coins, known as the grosz (groat), the kwartnik (half-grosz) and the ćwierćgrosz (quartergrosz, or the small kwartnik). Their chronology, place of origin and mutual relation are not entirely clear and remain the subject of debate. However, it is the largest and the most impressive of these coins – the Kraków grosz – that is generating the biggest interest. It was modelled on the Prague groschen and was created – as suggested recently by Borys Paszkiewicz – around the year 1360. It weighed 3.27 g and was the equivalent of 16 small denarii.

The Kraków grosz has been selected as the seventh coin in our series illustrating the history of Polish coin. As the first large silver coin, it began the grosz era in Poland. However, we should first explain the origin of the word grosz, currently associated with the smallest coins. This was not the case in the Middle Ages, when it was a “thick” coin. In fact, in Latin grossus means “thick” and originally referred to the denarius (denarius grossus, or the thick denarius). On the front the grosz of Casimir the Great bears an image of a royal crown. It is surrounded by the following inscription within two concentric circles: +KAZIMIRVS PRIMVS / +DEI GRACIA REX POLONIE. A White Eagle wearing a crown appears on the reverse side of the coin. It is surrounded by the inscription: +GROSSI CRACOVIENSES. Therefore the inscription indicated both the issuer – Casimir the First, by the Grace of God, the King of Poland, and the denomination – Kraków groats. We notice the plural, where we would expect to find the singular form. In reality this inscription related not to this particular coin, but to the affiliation with the Cracovian monetary system.

On our new coin, both sides of the grosz of King Casimir are reproduced. The contemporary elements added to the original design include the state emblem of the Republic of Poland, the date 2015 and the face value of PLN 20. Additional elements include the kneeling figure of King Casimir the Great with a model of the Collegiate Basilica in Wiślica, which he founded, and a fragment of the door to the Wawel Cathedral with King Casimir’s monogram (the letter K under the crown). Stanisław Suchodolski

2015 Half-grosz of Ladislas Jagiello

Ladislas Jagiello (1386–1434) was not a great reformer of money in Poland. However, he made significant adaptations to the system introduced by Casimir the Great. He stopped striking the largest unit – the grosz (groat) and made the basis of the system half of this – the half-grosz, known originally as the large kwartnik. He also struck small kwartniks, which had the value of a quarter of a grosz and were called trzeciaks (Ternars). The most common coin, as previously, was the denarius, which no longer contained very much silver. The system based on the half-grosz and lowvalue denarius established itself in Poland for a whole century.

The most important denomination, the half-grosz, has been selected for our collector series. On the coin’s obverse there is a crown and the following inscription along its rim: +MONE*WLADISLAI. This inscription is continued on the back, where the following runs around the eagle: +REGIS*POLONIE. When read together, the text informs us that this is a “Coin of Ladislas King of Poland”.

It is worth noting the mint marks under the crown. They signify the names of the successive mint masters who ran the mint operating in Kraków. In our case this is the letter n, the initial of the name Nicolaus, or Mikołaj (Bochner).

On the new coin, apart from a representation of both sides of the half-grosz, there are also motifs borrowed from the tombstone of Ladislas Jagiello in Wawel Cathedral. On the obverse, next to the obverse of the half-grosz with the crown there is a beautiful portrait of the king wearing a crown. The third element is the mandatory certification with the emblem of the Republic of Poland, the date 2015 and the designation of the denomination – 20 zł. On the reverse, the eagle of the half-grosz correlates well with the eagle represented on the shield of the king’s tombstone. Stanisław Suchodolski

2016 Ducat of Sigismund the Elder

Sigismund the Elder’s reign (1506–1548) marks the beginning of a new era in the history of Polish money. The epoch of late medieval coins, based on the half-grosz, was over, and the era of modern money began. It was then that a complete monetary system was born. It was based on the złoty, a unit of account which was equal to 30 real grosz. There were also multiples of the grosz, namely the trojak (three grosz) and the szóstak (six grosz), as well as smaller denominations – the półgroszek (half-grosz), denarius and ternar (worth three denarii).

The appearance of coins also changed. Gothic letters in inscriptions were replaced by what was referred to as Latin letters. Truly Renaissance-style, realistic portraits of the king appeared, and dates of issue started to be included in the legends.

Of crucial significance was the introduction of a gold currency – the Polish złoty called the ducat – in 1528. We have chosen a ducat from 1529 for our series. The obverse of the coin features a bust of the king wearing armour and a crown, turned to the right. A striking element is the caul that the king is wearing under his crown, which resembles a hairstyle. The inscription along the rim reads: SIGIS[mundus]◆I – REX◆POL[onie]◆, i.e. Sigismund the First – King of Poland. At the bottom, horizontally, there is the date 1529 and a plant ornament. On the reverse, beneath the crown, there is a five-field shield. At the top it bears the Polish Eagle and the Lithuanian Chase, at the bottom – the Russian Lion and the Prussian Eagle, while in the centre – the Habsburg coat–of-arms. This last one commemorated the king’s mother, Elisabeth of Austria. On the sides of the shield there are the letters C – N, denoting the place of minting (Cracovia) and the first name of the Crown Treasurer, Mikołaj Szydłowiecki (Nicolaus). The inscription along the rim reads: IVSTVS VT PALMA FLOREBIT (The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree).

The central motif on the new coin is of course the representation of the ducat. The obverse additionally features a round label with the Eagle, the denomination – 20 złoty and the date – 2016. The whole coin has been placed in a most impressive framing alluding to the interior of the dome of the Sigismund Chapel in Wawel Cathedral in Cracow. On the opposite side, the reverse of the ducat is accompanied by the Eagle (in the form of laser ground print) beneath a crown from a 16th-century woodcut. Stanisław Suchodolski

2016 Schilling and Thaler of King Stephen Bathory

The reign of Stephen Báthory (1576–1586) brought a further modification and development of the minting system. New minting regulations issued in 1580 played a pivotal role in its formation. In the regulations, the king decided to establish a Polish-Lithuanian monetary union and to mint harmonized monetary units in both parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The coins that were introduced included, among others, the thaler, the trojak (three grossi), the grosz and the schilling (szelag). The first and the last of these coins are particularly noteworthy. That is because the thalers had until that time been very rare and the schillings were only known in the lands of Prussia. For this reason, we have selected both of these coins for presentation in our series.

On the obverse of the thaler minted in Olkusz we see the half-lenght figure of King Stephen Báthory with a crown on his head, in full armor, with a sceptre and a sword in his hands. On the sides there is the divided date: 15 – 80, and in the rim there is an inscription: +STEPHANVS+D+G+REX+POLONIÆ+. On the reverse, there is a crowned Eagle with a small shield on the chest, with the coat-of-arms of the House of Báthory – wolf’s teeth. In the rim, there is an inscription: MAG[nus]+DVX+ LITVA[niæ]+RVSSIÆ*PRVS[siæ]MASO[viæ]&C[et cetera]*. We are therefore informed that the coin was minted by Stephen, by the grace of God King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia etc.

Against the background of the reverse of this largest silver monetary unit, we present the smallest and most common monetary unit, that is the schilling. On the obverse, it carries a decorative letter S under the crown – a monogram of the king’s name. A miniature coat-of-arms of the House of Báthory was placed in the top arc of the letter. In the rim there is an inscription: ·STEPHA[nus] · D[ei] · G[ratia] ·REX·POL[oniæ]. On the reverse of the schilling (not visible on our coin) beneath a royal crown there are two shields with the coats–of-arms of Lithuania and the Crown of Poland. In the rim there is an inscription: ·SOLIDVS- ·REG[ni]·POL[oniæ]·15–80. It is therefore a schilling of the Kingdom of Poland.

Due to the lack of space, it was not possible to present both historical coins in full on the present coin. In addition, it was also necessary to add an imprint with the state emblem, the name RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA, the date 2016 and the face value of 20 złoty, and an explanatory inscription “SZELĄG, TALAR STEFANA BATOREGO” (The schilling and the thaler of King Stephen Báthory) on the other side of the coin. Stanisław Suchodolski

2017 Ducats of Sigismund Vasa

The reign of Sigismund Vasa (1587-1632) was a golden era in the history of Polish coinage. Various mints were operating at that time as in addition to the old facilities new ones were also launched, the most important of which being located in Bydgoszcz. All these mints were producing – with certain interruptions – great quantities of coins of various denominations. Minting, however, was affected by the European economic crisis, as a result of which the smaller silver coins were suffering from inflation.

The crisis did not affect full-value gold coins, however. In this regard we are particularly interested in a coin with a weight of one hundred ducats which was minted in Bydgoszcz. The dies used to mint the coin were prepared by the excellent Gdańskbased medalier Samuel Ammon (1591-1622) who came from Schaffhausen in Switzerland.

On the obverse he depicted a right-facing bust of the King, without a crown and in a richly ornamented armour. Under the bust the coin carries the medalier’s initials SA and the date 1621. Along the rim there is an inscription: ESIGISMVNDVS·III·D:G:POLONI·ET ·SVECIÆ·REXE. On the reverse, beneath the crown, there is a nine-field shield with the coats of arms of Poland and Lithuania as well as Sweden and Gotland, and the Vasa crest (sheaf of hay) in the middle. On both sides of the shield there are the initials of the lessee of the Bydgoszcz mint Jacob Jacobson van Emden: “II” on the left and “VE” on the right. Above the crown there is the date 16–21. Along the rim there is a continuation of the legend: EMAGNVS·DVX·LITVAN:RVSS: – :PRVSS:MAS:SAM:LIVON:ZC:E (Magnus Dux Lituaniae, Russiae, Prussiae, Masoviae, Samogitiae, Livoniae et cetera, i.e. Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia etc.).

It is the most impressive Polish coin, originally measuring almost 70 mm and weighing as much as 348.3 g of gold. The issue was most likely ordered by the King, who needed gifts for the most distinguished guests and dignitaries. Only a few original coins of full weight survived to this day. There are more lighter coins preserved, weighing 90, 60 or 30 ducats, and even silver coins weighing 10 or 3.5 thalers. All of these coins were minted with a single pair of dies.

It is not surprising therefore, that this numismatic item has been selected for our series to illustrate the history of Polish coin in the first half of the 17th century. The obverse of a modern coin depicts the reverse of a historic coin and, in line with tradition, certification with data concerning the new coin: the image of an Eagle, the name of the state, the face value and the year of issue. On the reverse of the modern coin there is the King’s bust from the obverse of the historic coin, and an inscription under the bust reads: 100 DUKATÓW ZYGMUNTA III (100 ducats of Sigismund Vasa). Stanisław Suchodolski

2017 Thaler of Ladislav Vasa

What distinguishes the mintage of the times of King Ladislas Vasa (1632–1648) is the lack of small coin. As early as in 1627, the Sejm banned the issue of such coin. The reasons behind the ban were the debasement of domestic coin and an inflow of a substantial amount of foreign low-quality coins for speculative purposes.

Consequently, the mintage of King Ladislas Vasa is associated with impressive thick coins such as gold ducats and silver half-thalers and thalers. They were minted both by the crown mint in Bydgoszcz and mints in Gdańsk and Toruń. We will be particularly interested in the thaler struck by the Bydgoszcz mint in 1642 as the coin served to produce a coin commemorating the mintage of the oldest son of King Sigismund Vasa. The obverse of the new coin features a round stamp with the coat of arms and name of the Republic of Poland, date 2017 and face value 20 ZŁ. The background of certification is the reverse of the ancient thaler of King Ladislas Vasa of 1642, with the crowned nine-field escutcheon with the coats of arms of Poland, Lithuania, Sweden and Gotland, and the Vasa family (sheaf of hay) in the centre. The escutcheon is encircled with the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is separated by an inscription at the bottom. The escutcheon is flanked by the date 16 – 4Z and letters G – G, the initials of Gabriel Gerlöff, the lessee of the Bydgoszcz mint. Surrounding the escutcheon is the legend: ·SAM[ogitiae]:LIV[oniae]:NEC:NO[n]:SV[ecorum] (Golden Fleece) GOT[orum]:VAN[dalorum]:Q[ue]:HAE [reditarius]:REX·

Ladislas Vasa on horseback is placed against this background. The image is modelled on the scene of the homage paid by the Russian boyars to the King after the Polish capture of Smoleńsk. The scene is pictured on the side of the royal sarcophagus at Wawel Cathedral in Cracow.

The reverse side of the commemorative coin, that is the main side of the thaler of Ladislas Vasa, features a beautiful bust of the richly dressed King wearing a crown, and the legend along the rim: VLA[dislaus]:IIII:D[ei]:G[ratia]:REX:POL[oniae]· (the small escutcheon features the coat of arms of Sas Jan Daniłowicz, the Grand Treasurer of the Crown) M[agnus]·D[ux]:LIT[uaniae]:RVS[siae]:PR[ussiae]: MA[soviae]·, which together is translated as: Ladislas Vasa, by the Grace of God, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia and also the hereditary king of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals. In the background of the image of the royal bust there is an explanation of the type of a coin: TALAR WŁADYSŁAWA IV (thaler of Ladislas Vasa). Stanisław Suchodolski

2018 Boratynka and Tymf of John Casimir Vasa

What distinguishes the mintage of the times of King Ladislas Vasa (1632–1648) is the lack of small coin. As early as in 1627, the Sejm banned the issue of such coin. The reasons behind the ban were the debasement of domestic coin and an inflow of a substantial amount of foreign low-quality coins for speculative purposes.

Consequently, the mintage of King Ladislas Vasa is associated with impressive thick coins such as gold ducats and silver half-thalers and thalers. They were minted both by the crown mint in Bydgoszcz and mints in Gdańsk and Toruń. We will be particularly interested in the thaler struck by the Bydgoszcz mint in 1642 as the coin served to produce a coin commemorating the mintage of the oldest son of King Sigismund Vasa. The obverse of the new coin features a round stamp with the coat of arms and name of the Republic of Poland, date 2017 and face value 20 ZŁ. The background of certification is the reverse of the ancient thaler of King Ladislas Vasa of 1642, with the crowned nine-field escutcheon with the coats of arms of Poland, Lithuania, Sweden and Gotland, and the Vasa family (sheaf of hay) in the centre. The escutcheon is encircled with the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is separated by an inscription at the bottom. The escutcheon is flanked by the date 16 – 4Z and letters G – G, the initials of Gabriel Gerlöff, the lessee of the Bydgoszcz mint. Surrounding the escutcheon is the legend: ·SAM[ogitiae]:LIV[oniae]:NEC:NO[n]:SV[ecorum] (Golden Fleece) GOT[orum]:VAN[dalorum]:Q[ue]:HAE [reditarius]:REX·

Ladislas Vasa on horseback is placed against this background. The image is modelled on the scene of the homage paid by the Russian boyars to the King after the Polish capture of Smoleńsk. The scene is pictured on the side of the royal sarcophagus at Wawel Cathedral in Cracow.

The reverse side of the commemorative coin, that is the main side of the thaler of Ladislas Vasa, features a beautiful bust of the richly dressed King wearing a crown, and the legend along the rim: VLA[dislaus]:IIII:D[ei]:G[ratia]:REX:POL[oniae]· (the small escutcheon features the coat of arms of Sas Jan Daniłowicz, the Grand Treasurer of the Crown) M[agnus]·D[ux]:LIT[uaniae]:RVS[siae]:PR[ussiae]: MA[soviae]·, which together is translated as: Ladislas Vasa, by the Grace of God, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia and also the hereditary king of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals. In the background of the image of the royal bust there is an explanation of the type of a coin: TALAR WŁADYSŁAWA IV (thaler of Ladislas Vasa). Stanisław Suchodolski

2019 Szostak (six grosz) of John III Sobieski

Minting activity during the reign of John III Sobieski (1674−1696) lasted for a short period of time. The mint of Bydgoszcz became operational only in 1677 and the mint in Kraków – in 1679, but they were shut down as early as in 1685. This implies that during the almost two decadxe-long reign, coins were struck for only 8 years. These were mostly silver crown coins: the trojak (three grosz), szóstak (six grosz) and ort (18 grosz) coins, and a small amount of gold coins. The szóstak was the most popular one. The obverse of the coin features the bust of the King in ancient style, wearing a toga and a laurel wreath. The bust is surrounded by the legend: IOAN[nes] III. D[ei].G[ratia] REX POL[oniae] M[agnus]. D[ux].L[ituaniae].R[ussiae].P[russiae], which means ”John III, by the Grace of God, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Prussia.” Below the bust, there are the initials T.L.B. of Titus Livius Boratini, the lessee of the two mints.

The reverse shows, below the crown, a Roman numeral, VI, and three escutcheons with the coats-of-arms of Poland, Lithuania and Janina (of the Sobieskis). Along the rim, there is an inscription: GROS[si]. ARG[entei].SEX – REG[ni].POLONIAE, i.e. “The silver On 10 July 2019, Narodowy Bank Polski is putting into circulation a silver coin of the series “History of Polish Coin” – The Szóstak (six grosz) of John III Sobieski, with a face value of 20 zł. Face value 20 zł Metal: Ag 925/1000 Finish: proof Diameter: 38.61 mm Weight: 28.28 g Edge: plain Mintage: up to 13,000 pcs Coin designer: Dominika Karpińska-Kopiec Issuer: NBP The coins, commissioned by NBP, were struck by Mennica Polska S.A. six grosz coin of the Kingdom of Poland”. In the middle of the inscription, there is the coatof-arms Leliwa of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn, the Grand Treasurer of the Crown. At the bottom, the date 16–82 divided by the escutcheon of the Sobieskis.

It is obvious that the image of this coin, which was representative for the minting activity of the King, should be shown on a new coin of NBP. The main side of the new coin depicts the reverse of the szóstak and, traditionally, a small round stamp with an inscription: Rzeczpospolita Polska (Republic of Poland), the image of the Eagle established as the emblem of the Republic of Poland, the face value of 20 ZŁ and the year of issue: 2019. Above the bust, there is a fragment of the bas-relief from Wilanów Palace showing John Sobieski on horseback shortly before the royal coronation. On the reverse side of the coin you can see the obverse of the six-grosz coin, and on its right side there is the Eagle bearing on its breast the Janina coat-ofarms from the armorial of Wacław Potocki of 1696. An inscription on the left side: SZÓSTAK JANA SOBIESKIEGO (six grosz coin of John Sobieski) completes the design.). Stanisław Suchodolski

2020 Gdansk Zloty of Augustus III

The Saxon era is a period marking the fall of the Polish coin. Practically speaking, coins were not struck in the Commonwealth at that time. As early as in 1685 the Sejm passed a resolution to close the mints. However, this does not mean that there are no coins bearing the names and titles of both kings of the Saxon dynasty – Augustus II the Strong (1697– 1733) and his son, Augustus III (1733–1763). Such coins were issued by these rulers, but in the territory of Saxony. Saxon coins with Polish coats of arms were also struck there. One should also recall the Polish coins that were falsified by the King of Prussia, Frederick II, and the Lithuanian szóstaks (six-grosz) produced in the years 1706–1707 in Moscow.

The ban on minting operations in the Commonwealth did not cover Royal Prussia. Among thecoins of Augustus III struck there, we are interested in the beautifully made Gdansk złoty (gulden) made at Prussian standard with the denomination of 30 grosz of 1762. On the obverse it has the crowned bust of the king facing to the right, with the Order of the Golden Fleece around his neck. Along the rim, the legend: D[ei] G[ratia] AVGVST[us] III R[ex] POL[oniarum] M[agnus] D[ux] L[ithuaniae] R[ussiae] P[russiae] D[ux] S[axoniae] & EL[ector], in other words, By the grace of God Augustus III, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Russia, Prussia, Duke of Saxony and Prince-Elector. On the reverse was the great coat of arms of Gdansk (an oval shield held by two lions). Above it, the face value: 30 GR[osz] and a wreath. Below the coat of arms, the initials of the Gdansk master of the mint Rudolf Ernest Oeckermann: R – E – Œ and the date 1762. Along the rim, the legend: MON[eta] ARGENT[ea] CIVIT[atis] GEDANENS[is], in other words: Silver coin of the city of Gdansk.

The main element on the obverse of the new commemorative coin is the reverse of the Gdansk złoty of 1762 described above, with the coat of arms of the city. Next to it is a circular imprint with the image of the Eagle established as the state emblem of the Republic of Poland, an inscription: Rzeczpospolita Polska (Republic of Poland), the year of issue: 2020 and the face value: 20 ZŁ. In the background can be seen a pattern from the coronation robe of Augustus III, which complements the decorations of the Gdansk coat of arms. The obverse of the Gdansk złoty, with the portrait of the king, is located on the reverse of the coin. The background is a laser underprint of a fragment of the plan of Warsaw of 1762. It is partly covered by the legend: ZŁOTÓWKA GDAŃSKA AUGUSTA III Stanisław Suchodolski

EARLY AND LATER PACKAGING

SPECIFICATION

HISTORY OF POLISH COIN
DENOMINATION 5 Zloty (Poland) 10 Zloty (Poland) 20 Zloty (Poland)
COMPOSITION 0.925 silver 0.925 silver 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 7.07 grams 14.14 grams 28.28 grams
DIMENSIONS 24.00 mm 32.00 mm 38.61 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None Some issues gilded Some issues gilded
MINTAGE 20,000 per design 20,000 per design 12,000 – 20,000 per design
BOX / C.O.A. Card-mounted Yes / Yes Yes / Yes