Groschen (Latin: Grossus, German: Groschen (help·info), Italian: grosso or grossone, Czech: groš, Lithuanian: grašis, Estonian: kross, Polish: grosz, Albanian: grosh, Hungarian: garas, Ukrainian: грош, Russian: грош, Macedonian: грош, Bulgarian: грош, grosh, Romanian: groș) was the (sometimes colloquial) name for a coin used in various German-speaking states as well as some non-German-speaking countries of Central Europe (Bohemia, Poland), the Danubian principalities. The name, like that of the English groat, derives from the Italian denaro grosso, or large penny, via the Czech form groš. The Qirsh (also Gersh, Grush, Γρόσι (Grósi) and Kuruş), Arabic, Ethiopian, Hebrew, Greek and Turkish names for currency denominations in and around the territories formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, are derived from the same Italian origin.
Names like Groschen, grossus/grossi, grosso, grossone, Grosz, gros, Groš, groat, Grote, Groten, Garas etc. were used in the Middle Ages for all thick silver coins, as opposed to thin silver coins such as deniers or pennies. Historically it was equal to between several and a dozen denarii.
The type was introduced in 1271 by Duke Meinhard II of Tyrol in Meran. The 1286 example depicted here weighs 1,45 g, it is marked with ME IN AR DVS and a Double Cross (Obverse), and with DUX TIROL and the Eagle of Tyrol (Reverse)
It was minted since the Middle Ages in the following areas:
- Tirol (since 1271)
- England (since 1279, the groat, )
- Bohemia (since 1300, the Prague groschen, later adopted by most of the Central European countries)
- Poland (since 1367, the Cracow Grosz, 3,2 grams of silver, an equivalent of 12 denarius)
- Moldavia (since the reign of Petru I, 1375–1391)
Later the tradition of Groschen was dropped in most states while others continued to mint only coins smaller than the original coin. In Poland for example, since 1526 these included coins of 1/2 grosz, 1 grosz, 1,5 grosz, 2 grosz, 3 grosz, 4 grosz and 6 grosz. Their weight gradually dropped to 1,8 grams of silver and since 1752 they were replaced by copper coins of the same name.
In recent times, the name was used by two currencies in circulation:
- In Poland a grosz (plural: grosze or groszy, depending on the number) is a 1/100 part of a Złoty
- In Austria a Groschen (plural: Groschen) was a 1/100 part of a Schilling (1924–1938 and 1945–2001)
Likewise, in Germany Groschen remained a slang term for the 10 Pfennig coin, thus a 1/10 part both of the (West German) Deutsche Mark and the East German Mark. The word has lost popularity with the introduction of the Euro, although it can still be heard on occasion, especially from older people.
In Bulgarian, Macedonian and Croatian and Serbian, the term has been retained as a general word for a coin or currency in a number of money-related proverbs and sayings, and can also be regularly encountered in folk tales or stories set vaguely in the past.
In Palestine during the British Mandate, a grush was a coin with a hole in it, valued at 1/100 part of a pound. It was named after an Ottoman coin. When the pound was replaced by the lira after Israeli statehood in 1948, the name was transferred to a coin (no longer with a hole) worth 1/100 of a lira. The name persisted for a while after the lira was replaced by the shekel in 1960, but it gradually lost its standing as the name of a certain coin. Now it is a slang for a very small value.
In Germany, the name Groschen (both singular and plural) replaced "Schilling" as the common name for a 12 Pfennig coin. In the 18th Century it was used predominantly in the northern states as a coin worth 1/24 of a Reichsthaler (equal to 1/32 of a Conventionsthaler). In the 19th century, beginning in 1821 in Prussia, a new currency system was introduced in which the Groschen (often called the Silbergroschen (Prussia, since 1821) or Neugroschen (Saxony, since 1840) to distinguish it from older Groschen) was worth 1/30 of a Thaler (Taler). Following German unification and decimalization, the Groschen was replaced by the 10 Pfennig coin and Groschen remained a nickname for the 10 Pfennig coin until the introduction of the Euro. For the same reason, the name "Sechser" (sixer) remained in use regionally for the half-Groschen coin, 5 Pfennigs.
The type was also minted during various times in the Duchy of Luxembourg, such as the 22 millimeter 1/2 gros produced from 1418 to 1425 under John III the Pitiless of Bavaria, bearing slightly varying inscriptions of "IOAH DVX BAVAR Z FILIVS" on the obverse, and "MONE NOVA LUCE BURS" on the reverse.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Groschen.|
- Prager Groschen, Krakau Groschen
- Die Dreigroschenoper, The Threepenny Opera