HISTORY OF ZLOTY
Poland has officially been a member country of the European Union since May 2004 and it is anticipated to eventually adopt the common currency, Euro, within no strict timeframe – at least not until the Union’s specifications concerning the stability criteria are met. In addition to this, article 227 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland will need to be amended first, so it seems unlikely that Poland will adopt the Euro any time before 2019. But what is this “mysterious” national currency which is in circulation throughout the country?
The word is derived from the Polish term “zloto” which literally means “gold”. As one could easily deduce, “zloty” in Polish means ”golden”. The modern zloty is subdivided into 100 groszy. The widely used abbreviation PLN stands for ”Polish New Zloty” and, if interested in pursuing a career in Poland or if you have any plans visiting it, you might find useful to know that 1 PLN is equal to 0.25 Euros and 0.35 US Dollars.
The zloty (golden) has a remarkably long History, dating back to the Middle Ages. Originally, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the name zloty (often also referred to as “florin”) was used to signify alls sorts of foreign gold coins used in Poland, predominantly Venetian and Hungarian ducats. Zlotys were also considered to be a broad spectrum of coins in circulation at the time, ranging from the 30 groszy coin or polski zloty, theczerwoni zloty (Red zloty) and thezloty relski (the Rhine Guilder). In 1496, however, the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament, approved the creation of a national currency. On these terms, the freshly minted zloty acquired a set value of 30 “groszy”, a coin minted since 1347 and modelled on the “Prague groschen”. The grosz was subdivided into 2 pólgrosz or 3 solidi. However, the value of the Polish zloty dropped over time relatively to these foreign coins and it eventually became a silver coin.
Due to the monetary reform carried out by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the zloty became Poland’s official currency and the exchange rate of 1 zloty to 30 groszy was confirmed. Until 1787, the zloty was tied to the “Conventionsthaler”of the Holy Roman Empire, with 8 zloty being equal to one Conventionsthaler and, consequently, 4 groschen equal to the zloty. Two debasements of the currency occurred in the years before the final partition of Poland.
Numerous alterations in appearance and adjustments to zloty’s value occured over the centuries. Nowadays, zlotys are utilised from Gdansk to Krakow and from Szczecin to Bialystok, being Poland’s official national currency. Zlotyscome in bills and coins, whereas the National Bank of Poland, is the only bank authorised to issue them in Poland. The coins range from 1 groszy to 5 zlotys, while the bills range from 10 to 200 zlotys.
The appearance of the modern zloty resembles most bank notes since they also feature historical figures and symbols. For instance, the 50 zloty bill carries a depiction of King Casimir III on the front side and his royal seal, an eagle, on the reverse side. Also, on the 200 zloty bill, you can see Sigismund I face one side and an eagle with the letter S, Sigismund I’s royal seal, on the other side.