Divisional coin

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Dividing coin 3 Pfenninge, B (Hanover under Prussia)
Dividing coin 1 Pfenning, A

Dividing coins were called coins at the time of the Kurantgelde - in Germany and Austria until the beginning of August 1914, the beginning of the First World War - whose inner coin metal value was lower than their legally imposed nominal value . They represent - like emergency money - credit money. The term "Scheidemünze" meant "separating on pennies and pennies in the purchase process". It thus describes the low to medium value change . Since 1915, in Germany, all embossed coin including today's Euro coins small coins. The opposite term is the Kurant coin , a "full, circulating, viable, circulating" coin whose nominal value is (almost) completely covered by the metal it is made of.

Compulsory acceptance

Dividing coins were only legal tender in private payment transactions to a limited extent. There was a limited debt-discharging acceptance requirement for this type of coin . However, state coffers had to take back coins (mostly) indefinitely in peacetime when making payments to the state. Before 1871, the rule was that no private person had to accept more coins than the amount of the smallest curant coin. In order to avoid devalued exchange rates for the Kurant coin, the legal relationship to the Kurant coin was often stamped on coins in addition to the inscription “Scheidemünze”. See picture: “3 Pfennings, 120 one Thaler”.

In Germany from 1871 to 1914, silver dividing coins only had to be taken in payment up to an amount of 20 marks from private individuals; for penny coins in bronze or copper-nickel alloy, the maximum amount was only 1 mark.

However, the Vereinstaler (= 3 Marks) , which were still valid until 1907, were also practically “Kurant coins” ( bimetallism ) until around 1878 due to their silver value . After that, the silver price fell . Nevertheless, the status of the "Kurant coin" was formally maintained for the taler until its final disrepute on January 1, 1910, although it fell to a "Scheidemünze". Until then, thalers could therefore be spent instead of gold coins when exchanging divorce money or banknotes at the main cash registers established by the Reichsbank. Many contemporary economists therefore described the German gold standard currency as a limping gold currency because of the former Kurant silver coins that circulated parallel to the gold coins . However, if banknotes were presented to the Reichsbank for disbursement, it actually only disbursed gold coins. In actual economic life, the formal characterization as a limping gold currency therefore had no effect.

In the Latin Coin Union , based on official bimetallism , the silver 5-franc pieces were not only gold coins , but also curant coins , the smaller silver coins from 2 francs had a relatively lower fineness and were therefore divisive coins. Because of the fall in the price of silver from around 1878, (Latin) bimetallism could no longer be maintained. Therefore, the number of issues of the 5-franc coins was simply greatly reduced in favor of the smaller silver coins from 2 francs to ½ francs.

Today there is a limited private acceptance requirement for euro and euro cent coins, regardless of their face value.


In ancient times there were forerunners of the modern divisional coin, e.g. B. the Roman As (as 1/16 of the denarius from 27 BC), which, however, all perished in its inflations with the collapse of the Roman Empire and therefore could not regain acceptance in the later successor states due to a lack of permanent state authority. With antique coins there was usually no limited acceptance of this type of coin, i. H. a debtor could redeem a debt of 100 aurei with physical 10,000 sesterces made of brass, provided that he could take them out of circulation.

Also those in (Indo-) China, Korea and Japan since about the 6th century BC. " Cash coins" made of copper, brass or bronze with mostly square holes, which were in circulation until the beginning of the 20th century , are to be regarded as divisional coins, although at times they can also be viewed as a parallel currency to the Tael silver bar coins, which were reserved for higher value payments .


16th to 19th century

The first harbinger of the German subsidiary coins originated in the late 16th century, when the monetary standard of the "still" -Kurantkleinmünzen as cruisers , become the Reichstaler noticeably deteriorated and the statutory nominal parity is no longer practically had to comply with United silver coin. There was a deterioration in the exchange rate of the small coins to the large coins, which reached their peak in the Kipper and Wipper times around 1621 to 1623. Only when the state undertook to exchange these smaller coins of lower value at the “full” face value at the public coffers for curant money on request, the actual modern “Scheidemünze” was born, which was completed around 1700. In the Zinna Monastery Coin Agreement in 1667, z. B. between Kurbrandenburg and Electoral Saxony the "Schiede-Müntz" footing is set at the lower coin rate of 10½ thalers to 9 thalers for the Kurant coins.

August II. , 6 pfennigs 1701, land coin (dividing coin) " Red Sigh ", Leipzig Mint

Many older coins with lower denominations with the mint “ Landmünze ” or “Stadtmünze” were practically also “Scheidemünze”, as they were mostly minted in a smaller than the prescribed “Reichsfuß”. However, this was often not the case for the larger city coins, such as B. for the city thaler (Moneta civitas), who were often full after the imperial foot. See also valvation table . Emergency money and siege coins were practically always "dividing coins", provided they were not made of high-quality requisitioned church metal.

The term “Landmünze” should not be confused with the term “Landesmünzen”, which encompasses all coins of a country.

In times of need, divisional coins were subject to a significantly higher decline in value than Kurant coins, so that legal rates between different denominations (types) became meaningless, see Kipper and Wipper times around 1621–1623. In times of need, divisional coins (and banknotes) were no longer exchanged at face value by the state coffers for Kurant coins, so that Kurant money could even become goods with a premium (agio). Originally, the circulation area of the coins was limited to the area of ​​issue ("land coin"). However, if this money was taken back by the issuing country without hesitation and exchanged for curant money there, it was often eligible for exchange in neighboring countries when there was a shortage of change there, but occasionally with a devalued exchange rate. Most of the time, the further the issuing country was geographically distant, the more unfavorable the rate was, or the further there were doubts about the withdrawal. The currency or the disrepute of foreign coins was made known in coin dictates and in valuation tables by the respective sovereigns.

Often, token coins and especially depreciated Kurant coins were specially minted to pay soldiers or to sell out other countries. This happened particularly frequently in the war times of the 17th and 18th centuries. But this was very quickly recognized by the local merchant, and then this money was heavily devalued or rejected and finally disreputed by law. See Ephraimites .

1 Kreuzer 1808, Tyrol, front side.jpg
1 Kreuzer 1808, Tyrol, back side.jpg

Dividing coin from 1809, Andreas-Hofer-Kreuzer

The 1-Kreuzer piece of the Fürstete Grafschaft Tirol, the Andreas-Hofer-Kreuzer , which was minted to cover the need for money during the Tyrolean struggle for freedom, was issued as a divisional coin (land coin) , in contrast to the Hofer-Zwanziger, the Sandwirt 's Twenties .

The “ Frankfurter Judenpfennige ”, which circulated in the Frankfurt area and the Rhineland in the early 19th century, especially at the time of the trade fair , also functioned as “ dividing coins ”. They are still gladly collected today. These small copper coins were counterfeit coins that did not have national coats of arms, but symbols such as cock, clay pipe and the like. a., wore; and sometimes instead of a currency denomination, such as "1 Pfennig", had a fancy currency denomination, such as B. "1 Halbac". The origin of these coins is unclear and is believed to be private (suspected Birmingham or Holland). If these coins had been tokens, they would have been made of a brass alloy - as was prescribed at the time - since copper was then reserved exclusively for small currency coins.

Dividing coins brought the minters a good "Schlagschatz" (= coin profit). This tempted many minters to spend these in larger quantities, and not just in times of war. The reason for the issue of cutting coins was the relatively higher minting costs compared to the Kurant coin - measured by the respective face value. This argument is not entirely unjustified. In addition, a penny (made according to its purchasing power) made of pure gold or silver would have been much too small and therefore impractical for circulation. In addition, the amount of precious metal available would never have been sufficient to produce all means of payment from gold and silver. Otherwise deflationary conditions would have arisen and the rulers were financially “clumsy” at all times because - apart from temporal exceptions - the amount of precious metals always increased more slowly than the amount of goods available. For a stable currency it was therefore important to ensure a good balance between the amount of currency, currency, paper and book money, which of course had to be in line with the general material economic strength of the country and the average speed of money circulation.

Groschen, 1863 Dresden VS.JPG
Groschen, 1863, Dresden RS.JPG

New penny from 1863, divided into 10 pfennigs, 30 pieces resulted in a thaler (diameter = 18 mm, Dresden mint )

In many cases, cutting coins used to be in circulation for a very long time, so after the introduction of the mark from 1871, coins up to 1750 were exchanged for the new imperial money. The very long circulation of many German cutting coins, which sometimes even ran for almost 200 years, explains the large number of poorly preserved pieces of small German coins and, conversely, the high collector's rating of “freshly minted” pieces.

The dividing coins not only included bronze and copper coins as well as coins made of other base metals, but also many silver coins, the intrinsic value of which was in some cases greatly reduced to the nominal value of the coin by base alloy. This applied, for example, to many silver penny, cruiser and groschen coins in circulation in Germany before 1871. If the silver content of a divisional coin was below 50 percent, one speaks of a billon coin . Since these coins already had a noticeable reddish shimmer due to the dominant copper content, silver dividing coins were boiled "white" in a silver nitrate - tartar solution before delivery from the mint . On the surface, they looked like full-fledged Kurant coins - until the thin layer of fine silver was worn off after a short time in circulation.

The "Eichbaum" - dividing coin for 5 Reichsmarks 1927–1933

20th century

In the German Empire from 1871 to 1918, with its gold currency or gold mark currency (until 1914), all silver coins in mark currency were divisional coins, which, however, had a fineness of 90 percent and were therefore not billon coins. Around 1875, 10 marks in silver coins corresponded to a gold value of 9 marks with the gold-silver value ratio of 1: 15.5 at that time.

From 1915 onwards, all coins minted in Germany up to and including today's euro coins are “Scheidemünzen”. Consequently, paper and book money would also have to be included, even though large amounts of money are involved.

Due to material price increases or inflation, it can happen that the intrinsic material value of valid coins - but also that of silver commemorative coins with currency denominations - rises above the imprinted face value . These are then disreputed or no longer minted or continue to be minted with inferior material and / or with smaller dimensions or taken out of circulation by private individuals or their nominal value is set higher by law. See Gresham's law .

The terms “Scheide- und Kurantmünze” were increasingly avoided in the German-speaking area with the introduction of the Mark currency from 1871. In Austrian federal law, the euro coins are still referred to as dividing coins.

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Sprenger (1981) Monetary and Monetary Policy in Germany from 1834 to 1875. Research Institute for Social and Economic History at the University of Cologne. P. 33; see. also the original quotation there by Rittmann, Deutsche Geldgeschichte, p. 793.
  2. § 8 Scheidemünzengesetz


  • Heinz Fengler: transpress Lexicon Numismatics. Publishing house for traffic, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-344-00220-1 .
  • Association of scholars and practical merchants: trade lexicon or encyclopedia of all trade sciences for merchants and manufacturers. Ernst Schäfer Publishing House, Leipzig 1847.
  • Rudolf Hilferding: Finance Capital. Verlag JHW Dietz Successor, Berlin 1947 (reprint from 1910 unchanged)
  • C. Schaeffer, H. Brode: General Economics. Publishing house C. L. Hirschfeld, Leipzig 1927.
  • Wolfgang Trapp : Small handbook of coinage and the monetary system in Germany. Verlag Reclam, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-15-018026-0 .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Scheidemünze  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations