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The Reichsthaler (German: [ˈʁaɪçsˌtaːlɐ]) was a standard Thaler silver coin of the Holy Roman Empire, established in 1566 by the Leipzig convention. This original Reichsthaler specie was supplemented in the 16th century by various Reichsthaler units of account in northern Germany in the 17th century and by a Prussian Reichsthaler coin in 1750.
Reichsthaler coin or specie
The Leipzig convention set the Reichsthaler as a coin containing 1⁄9 of a Cologne mark or 25.98 grams of silver. The various German states within the Empire issued Reichsthaler together with smaller coins according to whatever system of subdivisions they chose.
This coin was continuously minted since 1566 in most of Northern Europe until the introduction of competing coins like the Conventionsthaler (coined 10 to a mark of silver) in 1751 and the Prussian thaler (coined 14 to a mark of silver) in 1750. However, it remained the primary trade coin in Scandinavia and the Baltics well into the 19th century.
The fine silver content of the Dutch rijksdaalder was maintained at 528.5 azen or 25.40 grams during the 17th century. This was close to the average silver content of 25.37 g for circulating reichsthalers. Exchange banks like the Hamburg Bank were established to receive silver from depositors and to credit their accounts in a Reichsthaler-equivalent bank currency called the Hamburg thaler banco. As of the end of the 18th century, each Cologne mark or 233.856 grams of fine silver was bought for 95⁄24 thalers banco (or 25.40 g per thaler) and was sold for 91⁄4 thalers (or 25.28 g per thaler).
Reichsthaler unit of account
At the same time as the Reichsthaler was being issued as a coin, efforts were made starting in the mid-17th century to define a new Reichsthaler unit of account for use throughout Northern Germany but worth a fraction of the circulating Reichsthaler coin. One example, the 1690 Leipzig thaler worth 1⁄12 of a mark or 3⁄4th of the original Reichsthaler specie, was widely used though not universally adopted.
In 1754 the Conventionsthaler became the standard coin in most of Northern Germany with the Reichsthaler unit of accounts defined as 1/(131⁄3) of a mark or 3⁄4th of a Conventionsthaler (or 17.54 g fine silver). Most states divide this Reichsthaler into 24 groschen or Gutegroschen, each worth 12 pfennig.
In 1750, Prussia adopted a Reichsthaler (also often called the thaler) containing 1⁄14 of a Cologne mark, or 16.70 g of fine silver. This standard was referred to as the Graumannscher Fuß after Johann Philipp Graumann, its originator.
The Prussian thaler existed both as a real coin as well as a unit of account. In the early 19th century, this thaler replaced the 17.54-gram North German reichsthaler as the standard unit of account.
The Prussian standard also became part of the currency used in southern Germany following the currency union of 1837. The thaler was worth 1 3⁄4 Gulden.
These thalers were replaced by the Vereinsthaler, of almost the same weight, in 1857.
- 200 azen = 9.613 g in p 353; hence 528.5 azen = 25.40 g. https://books.google.com/books?id=GrJCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA356#v=onepage&q=patacon&f=false
- 441.96 grains x0.886 = 28.639 g x0.886 = 25.37 g. https://coins.nd.edu/ColCoin/ColCoinIntros/Rix-Dollar.intro.html
- Shaw, William Arthur (1896). "The History of Currency, 1252-1894: Being an Account of the Gold and Silver Moneys and Monetary Standards of Europe and America, Together with an Examination of the Effects of Currency and Exchange Phenomena on Commercial and National Progress and Well-being".