The book is written by a group of paper money collectors from the Danish Numismatic Society. The greater part of the notes illustrated originate in The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Copenhagen. All the photographs of the notes are reproduced in the same scale: 55 per cent linear of the actual note, equivalent to 30 per cent in size. This is the upper limit for which it is possible to get permission to reproduce the current Danish notes.
The book concentrates on the official paper money in the kingdom of Denmark. The private issues are not included, neither are the notes from Danish West Indies, Greenland, nor the former Danish Duchies of Slesvig and Holsten.
The edition of "The official Paper Money of Denmark" has been made possible by a magnificient grant from Danmarks Nationalbank together with other benefactors, page 5.
References to the numbering in Standard Catalog of World Paper Money by Albert Pick are made with the permission from Krause Publications, Inc.
A preliminary draft of this summary has most kindly been corrected by Courtney L. Coffing from Coin World. Any errors in the final summary are due to the Danish editor.
Abbreviations for Literature are listed in the Danish indices, page 13 and 332.
N.B. The use of periods and decimal points in Denmark is opposite to the English practice. In Danish, one hundred thousand is written 100.000, ten dollars and fifteen cents is written 10,15 dollars instead of 100,000 and $ 10.15.
In former times the notes were redeemable (indløselige) in silver and later in gold. Sometimes the notes were inconvertible (uindløselige), compare table 1.
The regulations for silver or gold backing for the notes have varied through the ages. Until 1908 the banks were allowed to issue notes up to a certain limit; if they sent out more notes, they had to have full metal backing for the surplus. After 1908 the rule was altered so that half of the notes must be backed by metal. In later years Danmarks Nationalbank has been granted an exemption from this rule.
(*) A detailed catalogue of this paper money is contained in a Norwegian book, Rønning, Bjørn R.: Norges pengesedler og seddelbanker inntil 1874. Bind I: Sedler udstedt i København. (See Numismatic Literature, No. 104, September 1980, page 227, review No. 1199). The main part of the book deals with the Danish-Norwegian notes from 1713 to 1813, printed in Copenhagen. Apart from an issue in 1695, Norway did not get her own separate notes until 1807.
Before starting the history of the first period it is necessary to say a few words about a matter that is important for the understanding of the monetary history of Denmark in the 18th century:
Specie and Kurant. In 1713 when Denmark got her first notes, the monetary standard for coins in this country was silver, but the standard for large coins, rigsdaler specie (rd.sp.), differed from the standard for the small change, rigsdaler kurant (rd.k.). The law provided that the content of pure silver in 1 rd.sp. was to be 25,28 grams and the content in 1 rd.k. = 96 skilling in small silver coins, 4 and 8 sk pieces, was to be 20,63 grams. The specie coins would have to be paid when a contract specified these coins; tolls and dues payable by foreigners also had to be met in speciedalers. Kurant coinage was used in daily retail transactions. The notes followed the kurant-reckoning except for a short period.
Corresponding to the silver contents the rate of exchange between kurant and specie was 122 1/2 rd.k. (after 1794 125 rd.k.) = 100 rd.sp. This relation, however, was affected by the amount of large silver Coins available. When the rigsdaler species were scarce, one had to pay more small change to get them - and vice versa. After all this rate of exchange was rather constant until the war between England and Denmark, 1807-1814, when one had to pay up to 1200 rd.k. for 100 rd.sp.
The notes. The very first Danish paper money was the State notes of 1713. These notes bore six hand-written signatures. Four high officials and two clerks had to work through five months signing the first 120,000 notes (figure 1). The wording translated: "After His Royal Majesty's most gracious Decree, dated the 8th of April year 1713, this note pass for … Rigsdaler". Notes for 1 mark (1/4 rd.) - 100 rigsdaler kurant were issued (fig. 7-11).
The next issue came from Kurantbanken, established as a joint stock company in 1737. All Danish bank notes since 1737 have been signed by officials from the bank. Notes for 1 rd.k. - 100 rd.k. were issued (fig. 12-26). The wording translated: "The Bank in Copenhagen pays the Bearer on Demand the sum of ... Rigsdaler, in writing ... Rigsdaler courant currency. Until then this Banco-Note, as long as it exists, is valid without any certificate or endorsement for the above-mentioned ... Rigsdaler; value in bank received. Copenhagen Year ..."
From 1775 and onward the clause from the Law dealing with Counterfeiting was quoted with small letters on the note: "Hvo som giør falske Banco-Sedler, straffes paa Ære, Liv og Gods; og den, der beviisligen angiver saadan en Falskner, nyder til Belønning Eet Tusind Rigsdaler, og Navnet forties". Literally translated: "Whoever makes forged Banco-Notes will be punished upon Honour, Life and Property; the person who demonstrably denounces such a forger will benefit by an award of one thousand Rigsdaler and the name will be kept secret".
Small notes, 1 and 5 rd.k. were put in circulation 1762-75. A footnote, page 24-25, tells about the way different countries looks upon small notes. In 1773 the state took over the bank and from 1786 a new type of notes printed on blue paper was introduced. Today it may be difficult to distinguish the faded colour.
The value of the Kurantbank-Notes in proportion to silver species fluctuated and in 1791 it was attempted to replace them by notes with denominations in species (fig. 32-35) from a new bank, "Speciebanken". The experiment failed and new notes for 2 and for 20 rd.k. were issued from a new body Skatkammerfonden (The Treasury Fund) based on incomes from landtaxes (fig.37-38).
Due to a shortage of bank notes in 1799 and again in 1806 the Copenhagen Chamber of Commerce issued Credit Notes (fig. 36).
In 1809-1810 it became necessary to print small notes for 8, 12 and 24 skilling (fig. 39-40). The wording, translated: "Emitted for ... skilling on the basis of the Decree, dated ...”.
During the war between Denmark and Sweden 1807-09, the Danish king, Frederik VI intended to invade the southern province of Skaane in Sweden. Skaane is a former Danish province and Frederik VI therefore decided that the invading army should pay for their requisitions from the civil inhabitants, and to that end notes in Danish and Swedish currency were printed. The invasion, however, was abandoned and the notes destroyed; only one set (crossed over, fig. 42-44) is to be seen in The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals in Copenhagen.
In 1807 it became impossible for Denmark to preserve her neutrality. The Danish state was compelled to participate on the French side in Napoleon's war against England. The war expenses were excessive and in 1812 the Danish government had to suspend the payment of interest and repayment of the foreign debt, a situation which continued until the payment was resumed in 1815. At home the government met the rising expenses by issuing more notes, with the result that eventually Denmark had to devalue the Kurant notes. In Danish literature this is often referred to as "the State-Bankruptcy of 1813".
The reorganisation of the Danish currency began with the foundation of a new bank, "Rigsbanken" to supersede Kurantbanken. The capital for the new bank came from a once-for-all levy imposed on all real property in Denmark equivalent to 6 per cent of the value of it. The owners could choose either to pay this amount in silver or to pay an interest at a rate of 6 1/2 per cent per annum, also in silver.
A new unit was introduced, The "Rigsbankdaler" (rbd), equivalent to 1/2 rd.sp. The old notes were changed in proportion 6 rd.k. = 1 rbd, a devaluation which was ruinous to many people and many firms.
The public had no confidence in the new notes and would not receive them for the full value (table 5-6). The situation was not improved until a new bank completely independent of the government, "Nationalbanken i Kjøbenhavn" was founded in 1818. During the next 20 years Nationalbanken succeeded in reducing the superfluous amount of notes from the times of war into sufficient quantities. In 1838 they came at par and were made redeemable.
When the Rigsbankdaler unit was introduced in 1813 it took a long time to print the new notes and so various temporary notes were issued (DOP 50-57). The first notes from Rigsbanken came in the autumn of 1814. They were rather primitive (DOP 58-62); the wording is rended as Legend 4, page 356. The notes from Nationalbanken in 1818 had almost the same wording, only the name of the bank was altered, Legend 5. They were printed on very thin paper.
During the civil war against the German insurgents in Holsten in 1848 and against Germany and Austria in 1864 the Danish state had to issue interest-bearing credit notes to cover the war expenses. The same was done as a matter of precaution during the war between Germany and France in 1870 (DOP 73-85). In a footnote it is discussed whether interest-bearing credit notes are paper money or not.
In 1865 France, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland formed the Latin monetary convention. The Scandinavian countries contemplated joining this convention, but instead they united in the Scandinavian Monetary Union, in force from 1875 to 1923. The coins from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were free to circulate all over Scandinavia, no matter where they were minted. The union was not extended to the notes as Nationalbanken was a body, independant of the State. For a short period, 1901-1905, the Scandinavian central banks made their notes interchangeable.
When forming the union it was decided to leave the duodecimal system, the Rigsdaler and Skilling. It was decided to introduce the decimal system with 1 krone = 100 øre as the common coin in the three countries. Gold was chosen as the monetary standard.
New notes with the denomination in Kroner were issued. The smallest note was for 10 kr., but in 1898 a 5 kr. note was introduced. A footnote enumerates the smallest notes sent out from the note-issuing banks in 1897.
The Charter for the first Nationalbank expired in 1908, but was prolonged for 30 years with some alterations, i.e. the bank had to pay an annual fee of 750,000 kr. to the state for the right to issue notes. The sum corresponded to 6 per thousand of the yearly noteissue. A footnote compares this amount with the conditions in other countries. In this connection a Mexican note with a tax-stamp is illustrated in fig. 49.
Before the prolonged Charter terminated, the Danish Parliament, Rigsdagen, discussed a reorganization of this Charter. The Social Democratic Party wanted a State bank, but the majority voted for an independent, autonomous hank. In 1936 a new Charter was elaborated and the name was altered to "Danmarks Nationalbank".
After World War II a currency reform was carried through on the 22nd of July 1945. This was done partly in order to make the illegally exported notes invalid and partly to discover fortunes concealed from the taxation authorities. Nationalbanken had printed new notes for this purpose during the war, but this printing was kept as a top secret until the last moment. A coupon from the ration card served as validation for the exchange (the coupon illustrated in fig. 51 belongs to a collector who renounced the 500 kr. which it represented so that he might keep it in his collection). The result of the currency reform was that 71 million kr. were not exchanged, a sum corresponding to about 6 per cent of the quantity of notes circulating. Fortunes to a total amount of 2,500 million kr. not hitherto taxed were discovered. This corresponds to 18 per cent of the fortunes declared. - The notes issued in Denmark before 1945 were hereafter obsolete and not redeemable.
In 1952 a new series was issued. The 5 kr. and the 10 kr. notes carried (somewhat misleading) only the ordinance date 7.4.1936. However, the year of printing is given implicitly in the serial number which consists of three parts: a capital letter + the first digit indicate the series, the next two digits are equal to the two last digits in the year of the printing, and the last digit plus the following letter show the position of the note on the printed sheet (the notes were printed in sheets of 42). To indicate the position of the note figures from 1 to 7 and the six letters A-F were used. This may be illustrated by an example: A 10 kr. note has the red serial number H 2632 E at the left and the red number 8735733 at the right. This means that the note is number 8735733 in the series H 2 printed in 1963 and placed as number 5 (=E) in the second column of the sheet. As a control the position specification 2 E is printed in very small types near the bottom at the right of each note.
If anything went wrong during the printing, a replacement sheet was used. On this sheet the last figure was 0 and the last letter for all the notes was J in stead of A-F (the correct position number still appears at the bottom at right). If only a single note was rejected, a replacement note with K instead of J was used. This, however, infrequently happened, Consequently, the numbers with K as the last letter, for instance B 7710 K, are very rare. The 1952 series is the only one in which replacement notes were used in Denmark and only a very few Danish collectors are interested in the J and K notes. The 1972 series has the same number system as that of the 1952 series, but replacement notes are not used. The last digit in the 1972-series numbers indicates the position on the paper web: 1, 2 or 3 for the smaller notes placed three side by side on the printing cylinder and 1 or 2 for the larger notes.
The design of the Danish notes has varied through the ages. The first ones were very primitive. In 1834 Professor Gustav F. Hetsch introduced the late classicism and the early romanticism, through himself and his pupils influencing the following 50 years' style in notes. French influence manifested itself about 1900, only the 50 kr. note from 1883 (DOP 100) was drawn by a German artist working in Copenhagen.
In 1908 Nationalbanken arranged a competition which was won by a Danish designer called Gerhard Heilmann. His draft in art nouveau style dominated the Danish notes for the next forty years.
The notes used for the currency reform in 1945 were manufactured in deep secrecy and it had not been possible for Nationalbanken to call in artistic assistance. In 1952 a new competition resulted in the very fine 1952 series. In 1972 the new printing-house made it possible for Danmarks Nationalbank to issue the fine and technically advanced 1972 series.
In the course of the 19th century the prices rose slightly. At the beginning of this century the prices were still rather low, but after 1914 it was different. In table 8, page 53, the consumer prices in Denmark are quoted for the following items:
Heading for the rightmost columns:
Number of minuts work for an unskilled labour to aquire the mentioned amount.
The text for the groups in the table are as follows:
The notes issued between 1713 and 1813 (DOP 1-49) are illustrated in the chapter dealing with the first part of the history of Danish Paper Money, page 19-51.
It is difficult to illustrate the watermarks clearly, so different ways have been used: sketching from old, worn notes, drawing from better items and photographing the notes in light from the back side. In some cases the forms from the paper manufacture have been preserved; they show that for the first Nationalbank-notes from 1819 the same watermarks as used earlier were employed with an addition of undulating lines. Later on an impression in the wire-mesh from a model was used. The watermarks in notes of comparatively recent date are reproduced from photos of the watermarked paper before printing.
All the descriptions are given in the same form with detailed specifications as follows (the Danish words in italics):
The denomination, first year.* The DOP number. Authority of issue. The Pick number. The name of the series.
(*) First year the note is valid. Where practically some characteristic year is given instead. Sometimes a note is dated one or two years before it is valid. If so, that year may be indicated.
NB. The legends on the notes together with a literal translation is to be found at page 355-365.
The watermarks for this series are as follows:
With a few exceptions the name of the engraver is not known.
It has always been a rule in the Danish note design that neither the artist nor the engraver sign their works. Nethertheless the following exemptions have been found.
The engraver P. C. Batz has put his name BATZ in microtypes on three notes:
The engraver W. FERSLEW, known from the first Danish stamp, has put his name on the 20 rigsbankdaler (DOP 70 and 90) in microtypes within the slanting down stroke of the N in No. in the number-field at the bottom.
The artist Gerhard Heilmann has drawn his initials within the pattern on the 10, 100, and 500 kr. notes in the three Heilmann series:
The list, page 266-269, contains date and series numbers for the Danish notes between 1910 and 1983. Down to the year 1953 the list is based upon numbers collected by the group and some shortcomings may occur. After 1953 the list rests on information from Danmarks Nationalbank.
Before 1860 the banknotes carried 3 signatures; for notes with high denominations (50 and 100 rbd.) those of a director, a cashier and a book-keeper. Since 1875 the banknotes carries two signatures; one of them (1875-1950 the left one and thereafter the right one) is that of the chief of the bank's notedepartment. The other signer was - between 1875 and 1952 - one of the eldest of the head clerks. After 1952 the signer at left is a director; three members of the direction alternate after a fixed scheme. Lists containing the name and the (final) position of the signatories are given and a list of the directors of the Nationalbank from the first year and down to 1980 is added.
The paper used for Danish notes was handmade until 1957. From 1713 to 1873 the paper was manufactured at a papermill, "Strandmøllen", north of Copenhagen; this papermill was owned by the same family, Drewsen, for 200 years. To get the order for the paper the owner and his workers had to be sworn in, now serving the bank.
The paper for the new Krone notes in 1875 was delivered from the Swedish State Papermill in Tumba, near Stockholm. It had produced the paper for the official Swedish notes from 1755 and is still doing so. Tumba delivered the paper for the Danish notes until 1906. From 1907 to 1972 the paper for the official Danish notes was again fabricated in Denmark (at Silkeborg in Jutland). In 1957-62 machinemade paper was introduced. The 50 kr. and 100 kr. note from these years exist in two types, the first one on handmade paper, the second on machine-made paper.
A paper with a complicated watermark containing both light and dark parties was specified for the new Danish notes in 1972. The Danish firms were unable to make this paper in their machinery. The order was given to the English firm Portals Ltd., the world's largest manufacturer of cylinder mould made security paper for banknotes. Founded in 1712, Portals has supplied the paper for the Bank of England Notes since 1724 and now the firm produces mould made paper for printing 10,000 million bank notes for 130 countries every year.
Since 1972, the Danish firms have experimented with developments in their machinery at Silkeborg and in 1979 they succeeded in manufacturing paper with a simplified watermark for the new 20 kr. note (DOP 149).
Technical innovations have always introduced rather rapidly in the Danish bank. In 1844 a galvanic apparatus was purchased and in 1845 the reverse of the 100 rbd. note (DOP 72) was printed with a mechanically relief engraved copperplate. The cost of production for a note in Denmark in the 19th century was 3 3/4 øre (approx. 1/2 d). A third of this price was paid for the handwritten signature and the numbering.
The Danish notes were printed in sheets until 1972 when Nationalbanken installed two rotary presses in the new printing-house. One was from the West-German factory, Goebel, in Darmstadt, the other from Masson Scott Thrissell Engineering Ltd. in Bristol.
The procurement of rotary presses was necessitated by the quickly increasing number of notes in Denmark. In 1875 the consumption was 1 million notes yearly, in 1900 7 million in 1935 25 million, in 1972 75 million and in 1978 140 million yearly.
The cost of production before World War II was the same as in the previous century: 3 3/4 øre, but after 1945 the price went up and in 1980 the cost of production for a note was 15 øre (approx. 1 p). That was the reason why a 10 kr. note, lasting only 9 months was replaced by a 10 kr. coin, costing 50 øre but usable for many years. In 1983 a 100 kr. note costs approx. 50 øre.
An interesting picture of the value of notes in circulation is obtained in figure 169 by a comparison with the gross domestic product at factor cost. The ordinate in this graph gives the value of the circulating notes as per cent of the domestic product. In 1820 the circulation was far too great - 22,5 per cent! - owing to the excessive emissions during the war 1807-1814. It was gradually reduced to a sensible amount and from 1870 to 1960 the value fluctuated between 6 and 7 per cent (apart from a brief rise during World War II), but in 1960 the curve began to drop. The decline continued during the following years and in 1978 the value was only 3,6 per cent. This development is probably due to the fact that many money transactions are now settled by cheques and post office transfers.
The distribution of the circulation upon the individual denominations is shown in table 22 and figure 170. It will be seen that the 10 kr. and the 100 kr. notes are those most frequently used.
In order to compare the circulation in Denmark with the circulation in other countries, the state of affairs in 1935, one of the more stable years between the two wars, has been examined (table 23). The difference between the ten countries is not very large; converted to U.S. dollars the average is 45 U.S.dollars, Switzerland twice as much, and Denmark the half.
In Denmark the notes have always been destroyed immediately after they were withdrawn. It is impossible to find old Danish notes cancelled with punched holes or by other means. Before 1908 the obsolete notes were burned. Between 1908 and 1914 a rather expensive chemical method was used. From 1914 to 1950 the cancelled notes were ground. Between 1950 and 1970 they were burned, but after 1970 a special form for grinding has been employed.
From 1767 to 1777 a gang in Jutland counterfeited the 10, 50 and 100 rd. notes. Eventually the criminals were captured and the Danish Supreme Court approved according to the law, a death sentence for the three leaders. The death sentence was appealed to the king who decided that only one of the, three men should be executed. Which of them was to be determined by a throw of the dice as provided in the military penal code for similar cases. Consequently a game of dice between the three men was organized at the place of execution outside the town wall. Immediately after the game was ended the loser was decapitated and the two others put in jail for life.
In 1793-1794 a merchant from Danzig, Nicolaus Fischer, counterfeited the Danish 5 rd.k. notes (DOP 29). He was captured in Jutland and the Danish Supreme Court approved a sentence of amputation of the right hand. The king altered this sentence to prison, but when Nicolaus Fischer escaped from the jail and was captured again, he was transported to the Danish colony of Trankebar in India. Some of the notes that Fischer forged still exist in the KM, PM, RA and in a few private collections.
In 1819 the police captured all the members of a gang of counterfeiters who worked all over Denmark. The punishments were severe. Eleven of the criminals were whipped and afterwards imprisoned for life. 23 were put in jail for life and 15 were imprisoned for a shorter time.
In the following years counterfeiting was continued on a smaller scale. The Nationalbanken paid the recipients of the forged notes full compensation even if the bank was not juridically bound to do so; the expenses were small, in the years 1825-1845 about 1600 rbd. yearly.
During the trial in 1883 against a businessman who had counterfeited the 100 kr. note from 1875 (DOP 96), the experts from Nationalbanken doubted the prisoner's assertion that he had carved the printing block without any assistance. The business man was given a boxtree-block and demonstrated that he was able to do it himself. In the Police Museum, an impression of the printing block is kept showing how extremely clever the imitation was.
In New York two Swedish criminals, I. Moberg and J. A. Skog, tried to forge different European notes at the beginning of this century. They manufactured the paper for the notes in the good old way as hand-made paper with the proper watermarks and then printed the notes by means of printing blocks. The crime was discovered by chance; two stockbrokers from New York happened to discuss the remarkable coincidence that both of them had received a fairly high quantity of Danish 50 kr. notes on the same day. Secret Service was informed and discovered the counterfeiting workshop. When the police arrived, J. A. Skog who was armed with a revolver tried to escape. He did not succeed in this and shot himself. I. Moberg was severely ill at that time and got off with a short imprisonment. In figure 173 the Danish 50 kr. note from 1883 and a 20 pound note from the Bank of Scotland (Pick SA 4) can be seen together with other unidentified notes. Two years later the Danish 10 kr. note from 1891 was forged in Copenhagen. A lithographer and a lithographic printer manufactured some 2,200 forged notes and the lithographer's father-in-law, a tailor, put them in circulation. The forgery was discovered, when the tailor in a shop paid with five notes carrying the same number.
A comical touch was added to the serious crime through the tailor's drinking-orgies at the pubs where he was nicknamed the "Champagne-Tailor" as shown in a drawing from the Danish satirical yearbook "Blæksprutten" (The Cuttle Fish), figure 175.
Later on other criminals tried to counterfeit the Danish notes without success. It is difficult to forge the modern Danish notes. Banks are very watchful, so counterfeiting has not as yet been a problem in Denmark. Nationalbanken, however, is still on guard against forgeries and attempts to prevent this crime through continuous advances in safetygraphics and security printing.
In Denmark the law provided capital punishment for imitation or counterfeit until 1840. Between 1840 and 1860 the punishment was from 6 to 16 years imprisonment, and later on 12 years. The same punishment was meted out to anybody who, with the intent of bringing the imitated or counterfeited notes in circulation as genuine, provides himself or others with such notes. The penalty range also applies to the person who distributes the notes.
The penalty for the person who passes money he has reasons to believe is not genuine, will be imprisoned up to 3 years. If the person has received the money bona fide his penalty may be reduced to a fine or - if there are extenuating circumstances - annulled.
The law also prohibits manufacture, import or distribution of objects having essential likenesses to money. Infringement is punished with a fine. Fines have been imposed in connection with some advertising prints imitating notes.
Reproduction of banknotes. According to the Danish law of Rights of Origin for Literary and Artistic Works, Danmarks Nationalbank has exclusive copyright to the notes. That means that reproduction is normally prohibited. In certain cases, for instance in this book, a special permission may be obtained from Danmarks Nationalbank to reproduce the notes in reduced size.
The section "Fagudtryk m.m." (terms) explains the meaning of special words and serves at the same time as an index with reference to the pages and the DOP no's where the words are mentioned.
All symbols described on the notes are collected in a register with an English translation of most of the terms and with the DOP number where they can be found.
In the list of words (page 347-353) the languages are arranged alphabetically after the Danish names for the 7 languages.
Tilbage til Danmarks Pengesedler
Tilbage til Dansk Mønt