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The zloty (plural: zlotych) was gold coin of Poland originally minted during the Middle Ages. Literally translating to ‘gold coin’, the zloty was also a moniker for any type of gold coins used in Poland prior to its own currency standardization. The original currency of Poland prior to the 1500s was comprised of ducats or ducato from Venice or Hungary which were used as de facto currency of Poland. By around 1496, the Sejm (Parliament) of Poland opted for and approved the creation of a national currency based on an earlier unit of account – the groszy. The coin, referred to as the zloty was equivalent to 30 groszy.
The zloty coin was no more than a revamp of the already preexisting groszy coin that had been in circulation since 1347. Changing the metal content from silver to gold resulted in the creation of the official zloty coin, although by this time the term was still used colloquially to refer to any type of gold coin which was used in both local and international transactions.
The production of official zloty however was designated only to the National Bank of Poland, and even before its becoming an official currency in 1496, Poland already began minting their own zloty since 1025 until well into the 1980s.
Divided into denominations of 10, 20, 500, and 2000 zlotych, every Polish zloty is made from .900 fine gold, although each denomination has varying gold content relative to the size and diameter of the coin.
The official zloty was not at first the general currency of Poland, simply due to the fact that an external supply of gold and silver coinage from other areas did not necessitate any sort of insistence on a national currency. It was not until the monetary reform done by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski that Poland’s officially minted zloty became the true and unrivalled coin of the realm after having faced debasement, turning (from a gold) into a silver coin sometime during the middle of the 1500s.
With Poland’s complex history, a number of officially minted and sanctioned ‘coin of the realm’ zloty were created from the early 1600s until the latter part of the 20th century. Types of zloty from the early Kingdom of Poland, the Partitions of Poland, the Congress of Poland (under Russian rule) and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth are still sought-after today. One the distinct features of Polish gold zloty are the lack of uniformity found on all gold coins, not only in the depictions found on its face, but in the hue of the gold used in its minting as well. Nowadays, some newbie collectors or investors may be amazed to find red-hued gold zlotych alongside yellow-hued ones and even copper-hued or rusty gold zlotych. This is not due to any alloying on the part of the gold used in its production, but due to natural impurities found in the gold used in its creation. Older zlotych dating from the 1600s display more of this variance in coloration than more modern zlotych (circa early 1900s), although zlotych dating from the 1920s does possess a somewhat reddish or coppery hue due to the use of ‘Russian gold’ in its creation. These variations in color do not however make the zloty any more or any less precious as bullion investment than other (more typically hued) gold coins.
By around the 1930s the production of gold zloty had ceased alongside the use of Polish denominations in their currency. With the modernization of currency from gold, silver and billon to base metal and paper bills, the zloty then became a relic of a bygone era. It was later demonetized, losing any capacity to purchase, albeit retaining a degree of worth in its gold content. Today, zlotych have become rare and collectible coins that are sought-after by numismatists and bullion investors alike.
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Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for coinandbullionpages.com © coinandbullionpages.com 2012
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