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Electorate of Saxony, Reichstaler from 1575 from the Dresden mint , Mmz. HB

The Reichstaler (spelling to about 1,901 Reichsthaler ; Abbreviations: . Rthlr , . Rthl , . Rthl , . Thl ) is from 16 to the 19th century in the Holy Roman Empire spread large silver coin . Large silver coins with a similar silver content, sometimes with similar designations (e.g. Danish Rigsdaler ), were often imitated.

After the appearance of the first large silver coins of the early modern period in Central Europe, a need arose at the beginning of the 16th century for the nationwide standardization of these coins. After unsuccessful attempts to establish a large silver coin called the Reichsguldiner , the Reichsmünzordnung of 1566 allowed taler coins as official money of the Reich. The Joachimstaler guldengroschen and similar coins, which were widespread in northern, western and especially in central Germany with the silver-rich Saxony, leaned heavily on the monetary base of the first Reichstaler . They had a fine weight of almost 26 g.

The designation Reichstaler also established itself as a standard of value in silver currency that was independent of changes in the coin size ( bill coin ).

From 1750 Prussia minted a coin labeled “Reichsthaler” in the Graumann 14 thaler foot , which contained only about two thirds of the fine silver actually required.


Origin and name

Abbreviation for "Reichstaler". Of the two variants, the left one was also used in letterpress printing.

The immediate prehistory of the Reichstaler begins with the spread of a small gold coin in Europe, the ducat (guilder). In the Middle Ages, mostly only small silver coins were minted in succession to the Carolingian pfennigs. At the turn of the modern era, increased silver mining in Central Europe made it possible to mint large silver coins that corresponded to the value of a gold guilder. These silver coins were not initially referred to as thalers, but rather as guldengroschen or guldiner because of their value relationship to gold gulden. The Joachimsthaler Guldiner , from which the abbreviation 'T (h) aler' is derived , had a special meaning in the spread of these silver coins . An important predecessor of the Joachimsthaler was the Saxon guldengroschen, which came mainly from Annaberg and was later called Klappmützentaler (fine weight: 27.41 g).

The spreading thalers at the beginning of the 16th century differed in terms of shot ( rough weight ) and grain ( fineness ) as well as in their relationship to the small coins in circulation. Emperor Charles V met the need for nationwide standardization by issuing the First General Coin Order in 1524 . The aim was to define a large silver coin that was uniform throughout the entire empire and that could be used everywhere, which should and could bring out the different coin statuses according to a uniform coin rate, but different coinage .

The era of the Reichstaler unit of account ended in German-speaking countries with the signing of the Rheinbund act in 1806. In northern Germany, the Prussian thaler (14 thalers from the Cologne march silver) became the determining means of payment, which in the form of the Vereinstaler has spread across the entire German territory since 1857 Customs union expanded. In 1873 he gave way to the new gold mark , which was based on the gold standard . The Vereinstaler remained valid currency with a value of three marks until 1907 under the revived name Reichstaler .


Initially, the fineness was strictly adhered to. The initial equality of value between gold gulden and the silver guldiner around 1500 slowly diverged in the following decades or centuries due to the deterioration in silver fineness and the relative increase in value of gold compared to silver. The small coins, which were originally Kurant money around 1570 , sank from around 1600 to cutting coins that were difficult to convert into Kurant currency . From 1618 to 1623 in particular, the value of small coins fell sharply due to the deterioration of coins ( tipper and wipper period ). Finally, " Kippertaler " with a high copper content were minted in kipper minting sites, for example in the very numerous kipper minting sites in Saxony , as land coins, circumventing the imperial coinage system.

The first valuation tables date from around 1540 and give an overview of the value ratio of the individual regional thaler coins to the theoretical Reichstaler, the legal, nationwide monetary standard. These tables, also in an illustrated form, were published by the Reichstag , private trading houses and printing works until around 1870. They usually started with the full value and ended with the lowest value thaler coins and their fragments. The “good Reichstaler” became more and more a pure unit of account .

For the talers with the portrait of the emperor minted in the Habsburg hereditary country of Austria from 1566 to 1750 , separate coinage laws applied. Their meal and grain were lower in comparison to the Reichstalers.

See also: bank total

Coin data

In the Reichs Farewell of 1566, the Reichstaler was stipulated that 9 Reichstaler (9-Taler-Feet) were to be minted from a Cologne Mark of silver , the individual coin weighing 29.23 g, a fineness of 889/1000 and one Fine weight of 25.98 g.

In 1750, the real was Konventionstaler introduced to 10 dollars from the fine of Cologne silver marks in several German states, who was 32 pence, which Taler-foot-13⅓ corresponded to a at 24 pence. That was the end of the "old" Reichstaler at 24 groschen. At the same time, a "new", lighter Reichsthaler was introduced in Prussia in 1750 based on the Graumann 14 thaler foot , which was valid for 24 good groschen and later from 1821 30 silver groschen . The term Reichstaler was shortened to Taler from 1800 and renamed to Vereinstaler from 1857 in the countries of the German Customs Union and was valid as 3 Marks until 1907.

From 1750 to 1806 a Reichsthaler in Prussia was equivalent to 90 new groschen at 18 pfennigs each. In addition, 1 Polish gulden (Fl, Zloty) ⅓ Prussian Reichthaler (= 30 new groschen) was valid.

From 1821 to 1871 (1873) a New Reichstaler or Thaler (ℛst.) 30 silver groschen (Sgr.) Of 12 copper pfenni (n) g ( ) was valid in Prussia .

From 1871 to 1873, in all states of the German Empire, the thaler was replaced by the 100 pfennig mark , which corresponded to ⅓ thalers.

Talers, which were minted after the decree of 1566, were called Reichstaler or simply Taler in German-speaking countries , if the context made it clear that a coin was being referred to. One spoke of Speciesthalers , Reichsthaler species or minted Thalers as soon as it had to be made clear that a coin and not the unit of account was meant. For supraregional merchants, prices were always given in the unit of account Reichstaler , but then they were paid with the regional money, which then resulted in a conversion rate to the theoretical Reichstaler.

Coined Reichstaler of the Netherlands and Brabants were not bound by the language regulation; with them, the name Rijksdaalder referred to coins that corresponded to the value of the unit of account that conquered international payments under the same name.

International currency unit

Regardless of the coinage, a currency unit called the "Reichstaler" prevailed - with a value of 3/4 of the thaler minted in the Reich. In it, prices were given, annual salaries negotiated and bills of exchange for cashless transfers were issued.

The independence from coinage meant an advantage for the "Reichstaler" unit of account on the international stage. In addition, there were actually circulating coins that actually corresponded to or came very close to the Reichstaler:

In international payment transactions between Hamburg , Amsterdam , Copenhagen and Stockholm, transfers in Reichstalers became common - in Scandinavian they were called Rigsdaler or Riksdaler , in Dutch Rijksdaalder , here and there, as everywhere in the Reich, a decision was made on site which coin conversion of the stable and supraregional currency unit Corresponding to: 6 marks in Copenhagen, 3 marks in Hamburg, 24 good groschen in Leipzig , 36 Mariengroschen in Hanover .

Inflation took place locally below the supraregional currency unit: in 1680, 80 Albus were counted on the Reichsthaler in Cologne , in 1700 it had to be divided into 100 Albus. In Sweden the Riksdaler was divided into 2 Silberthaler from 1681 to 1715, from 1715 to 1719 the rate deteriorated, from 1719 and until 1776 3 Silberthaler had to be counted on the Reichsthaler - the value of the unit of account remained unaffected by devaluations of local coins as well from the introduction of the convention thaler in 1750, which ended the era of the original speciestaler in German-speaking countries. In international trade, however, confusion was caused by the fact that the German species thaler as a coin was worth more than the known unit of account "Reichstaler" (1 speciestaler = 1 13 Reichstaler = 32 groschen). Reichstaler coins in Dutch usage corresponded to the value of the unit of account. Isaac Newton noticed the grievance in 1720 when, as overseer of the Royal Mint in London, he was asked for an opinion on the value of the Reichsthaler in international payments with Scandinavia.

In other countries like the Netherlands, the Reichstaler became nationalized. In the Netherlands, the parity of the year 1700 remained: 2.5 guilders were still called “rijksdaalder” or “riks” for short in 2001.


  • Arthur Suhle: The coin. Verlag Koehler & Amelang, Leipzig, pp. 135 ff.

Web links

Notes and individual references

  1. Jump up Coin status: imperial status in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation entitled to coins . See Helmut Kahnt, Bernd Knorr: Old measures, coins and weights. A lexicon. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1986; Licensed edition Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-411-02148-9 , p. 390.
  2. Sir Isaac Newton: On Sweden's Rix Dollars