Information about currency: Swedish Riksdaler

Swedish Riksdaler (1604 - 1873)
Currency NameSwedish Riksdaler

The riksdaler was the name of a Swedish coin first minted in 1604. Between 1777 and 1873, it was the currency of Sweden. The daler, like the dollar, was named after the German Thaler. The similarly named Reichsthaler, rijksdaalder, and rigsdaler were used in Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Netherlands, and Denmark-Norway, respectively. Riksdaler is still used as a colloquial term for kronor in Sweden.

The daler was introduced in 1534. It was initially intended for international use and was divided into 4 marks and then a mark is further subdivided into 8 öres and then a öre is further subdivided into 24 pennings. In 1604, the name was changed to riksdaler ("daler of the realm", c.f. Reichsthaler). In 1609, the riksdaler rose to a value of 6 mark when the other Swedish coins were debased but the riksdaler remained constant.

In 1776, a new currency system was announced, which came into use at the beginning of 1777. The new currency was based on the riksdaler subdivided into 48 skilling (worth two old öre, sometimes spelled schilling with the plural schillingar), with each skilling further subdivided into 16 runstycken. Pre-existing copper coins were halved in value and only the most recent silver coins retained their face values.

The new currency was issued in banknotes (fiat money) and silver and copper coins. At first, only the Riksens Ständers Wexel-Banco (the Bank of the Riksdag of the Estates) could issue banknotes but, in 1789, the Riksgälds Contor (Swedish National Debt Office) was established and given the right to issue its own banknotes. The riksdaler specie was minted in silver, the riksdaler banco was issued by the Bank and the riksdaler riksgälds was issued by the Debt Office. Both the Bank and Debt Office issued copper coins.

The riksdaler specie was protected against inflation through its connection to silver but the banknotes suffered heavily from a seigniorage induced inflation. In 1803, the values of the two paper moneys were tied, with 1 riksdaler banco = 1 1⁄2 riksdaler riksgälds. In 1830, the exchange rate to the silver coinage was also fixed, with 1 riksdaler specie = 2 2⁄3 riksdaler banco = 4 riksdaler riksgälds. The value of the copper coins of the Riksens Ständers Wexel-Banco fell (relative to silver) in line with the bank's paper money. Thus, from 1830, there were 128 bank skilling to the riksdaler specie and these became the new standard subdivision of the riksdaler specie in 1834, carrying the name skilling banco.

In 1855 two reforms took place, the introduction of the riksdaler riksmynt and the change to a decimal system. One riksdaler specie was equal to 4 riksdaler riksmynt, each of which was divided into 100 öre. The Scandinavian Monetary Union replaced the riksdaler riksmynt in 1873 with a new currency, the krona. An equal valued krone/krona of the monetary union replaced the three Scandinavian currencies at the rate of 1 krone/krona = 1⁄2 Danish rigsdaler = 1⁄4 Norwegian speciedaler = 1 Swedish riksdaler riksmynt.

The now obsolete 25 öre coin was also often referred to as tolvskilling (12 skilling) during most of the 20th century. Although it is correct that 25 öre = 1⁄4 krona (after 1873) = 1⁄4 riksdaler riksmynt (1855–1873) = 1⁄4 riksdaler riksgälds (to 1855) = 12 skilling riksgälds, no such coins ever existed. However, since 1 riksdaler riksgälds = 1⁄4 riksdaler specie (silver), 12 skilling riksgälds = 1⁄16 riksdaler specie = 3 skilling specie (silver). Coins in the denomination 1⁄16 riksdaler specie were actually issued up to 1855. It is not clear if the name tolvskilling was used as a common name for this coin or if it simply was used to help people to get accustomed to the new decimal system.

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Swedish Riksdaler: Details
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Flag of Sweden Sweden Swedish Riksdaler 1777 1873