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Pulp Currency

Page history last edited by Michael 2 weeks, 2 days ago


 

value of currency unit in U.S. dollars for the stated year

country

name 

1921

 1933

1934

1935

 notes 

Austria

schilling 

$0.10

$0.14 

$0.19

$0.19

bank notes are issued for 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 schilling. In 1924 the previous kronen were converted to schillings at 10,000 kr = 1 shilling; the 1921 rate is given for 10,000 kr

Austria

Maria Theresa thaler

$1.00

$0.30

$0.34

$0.37

a silver coin widely used in trade in North Africa, all around the Indian Ocean, and in Asia. The design has not changed since 1780.

Britain

pound sterling 

$3.85

$3.50 

$5.04

$8.24

... and Australia, New Zealand, some colonies. £5 and £10 notes make up most of the paper money; £1 notes have been issued since 1928. Larger denominations rarely encountered include £20, £50, £100, £500, and £1000. Britain went off the gold standard in September of 1931.

Britain

guinea

$4.04

$3.68

$5.29

$8.65

supposedly a gold coin with the value of 21 shillings; see notes below.

British East Africa

shilling

$0.19

$0.175

$0.25

$0.41

Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar after 1935. Linked to the British pound.

France

franc 

$0.07

$0.04

$0.06

$0.07

bank notes are issued for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 francs; nickel coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes are issued -- a 5 centime coin is known as a sou. Gold coins worth 20 francs, still colloquially called napoléons (although his face isn't on them), are still sometimes seen; they haven't been issued for circulation since the start of the Great War. Even more rare is a 100 franc gold coin, minted from 1929 to 1936. Monaco uses French currency, and makes some bills and coins of its own. Since about 1931 there are restrictions on gold and French currency leaving the nation.

French colonies

franc

$0.07

$0.04

$0.06

$0.07

various colonial currencies, not always convertible except to francs, and only convertible in the colony or at a branch of the Banque de France or the Banque de l'Indochine:  Morroco, Algerie, Afrique occidentale française, Côte française des Somalis, Djibouti, Madagascar, Pondichéry, Polynésie, Nouvelle-Calédonie, Indo-Chine, etc.. In Indochina (i.e., modern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), the piastre is used, at 1 piastre = 10 francs.

Canada

dollar

$0.90

$0.88

$1.01

$1.69

 

China

Shanghai tael

$0.75

$0.30

$0.45

$0.50

common Asian silver currency. Since 1930 there is also a gold tael, worth about the same amount; it's issued as paper notes in denominations of 0.10, 0.20, 1, 5 and 10 CGU ("customs gold units").

China

Yuan dollar

$0.55

$0.22

$0.34

$0.37

common Asian silver currency

China

Hong Kong dollar

$0.52

$0.25

$0.39

$0.56

common Asian silver currency

Egypt

pound 

$3.96

$3.60 

$5.17

$8.37

1 Egyptian pound = 21 British shillings (or thus the same as a guinea); divided into 100 piastre. Pounds are paper currency, in £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations; silver coins are 20, 10, 5, and 1 piastre; nickel coins are 1 and 1/2 piastre. Gold coins in 1 and 5 pound denominations exist but are rare.

Germany

reichsmark

n/a

$0.24

$0.39

$0.40

introduced 1924. Bank notes issued for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 RM. Since December of 1931, there's a 25% capital tax on funds over 200,000 RM leaving Germany (50,000 RM after May of 1934). It's a complicated system, aimed mostly at emigres, but quite capable of catching adventurers, too. Historically, the various currencies in use between 1919 and 1923 experienced massive inflation.

Greece

drachma 

$0.05

$0.01 

$0.01

$0.02

the gold standard was abandoned in 1932. Taking any large amount of money or gold out of the country requires a license from the finance ministry.

India

rupee 

$0.29

$0.25 

$0.38

$0.62

banknotes are issued for 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 1000 and 1000 rupees

Italy

lira 

$0.04

$0.05 

$0.08

$0.09

there are 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lira notes; the 500 and 1000 lira notes may not be taken out of the country. Italian East Africa also uses lira after July of 1936.

Japan

yen 

$0.48

$0.28 

$0.30

$0.84

 

Mexico

peso 

$0.48

$0.30 

$0.28

$0.56

pre-1918, also a common Asian silver currency

Monaco

franc

$0.07

$0.04

$0.06

$0.07

worth the same as French currency, and can be used as legal currency in Francy and Andorra. Actual paper notes all date from 1920.

Netherlands

guilder

$...

$0.402

$0.675

$0.681

notes are issued in denominations of ƒ10, ƒ20, ƒ25, ƒ50, ƒ100, ƒ200, and ƒ1000; silver coins are issued for ƒ1 and ƒ2.5, along with various smaller coins (cents). Gold coins exist, but are rarely seen after the early 1930s; the country went off the gold standard in September of 1936. 

Palestine

Palestine pound

$3.85

$3.50 

$5.04

$8.24

used in Palestine and Jordan. Divided into 1000 mils, with coins in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 mil denominations; the 50 and 100 mil coins have significant amounts of silver content. Notes are in half-pound, pound, 5 pound, 10 pound, and some very rare 50 and 100 pound denominations.

Poland

zloty

$ ...

$0.19 

$0.19

$0.19

 

Romania

leu, pl. lei

~$0.01

~$0.01

~$0.01

~$0.01

196 lei to $1 in 1936. Coins common are 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, and 100 lei; notes are 500 and 1000 lei. Taxes and customs are required to be paid in gold, almost always foreign coinage (there are no current Romanian gold coins). There are 100 bani to the lei, but the small value makes it rare.

Soviet Union

ruble 

n/a

$0.50 

$0.50

$0.50

value approximate, as illegal to export from or import into the USSR. Historically in 1921 the ruble was also experiencing massive inflation.

Spain

peseta 

$0.14

$0.08 

$0.14

$0.33

 

Straits Settlement

dollar 

$0.44

$0.40 

$0.59

$0.96

the Straits Settlement dollar is used in Singapore and the Malay states; it is linked to the British sterling currency at S$1 = 2 shillings 2 pence.

Sweden

krona

$0.22

$0.22

$0.26

$0.25

1 krona is worth 100 ore; silver ore coins are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 25 and 50; silver coins are also minted for 1 and 2 kronor; very few gold coins (value 5, 10 or 20 kronor) produced after 1902; kronor notes of 5, 10, 50, 100 and 1000 are current.

Switzerland

franc 

$0.17

$0.20 

$0.32

$0.33

bank notes are issued for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 francs

Turkey

lira

$0.53

$0.48 

$0.79

$0.74

divided into 100 silver piastres, and linked to the British pound

 

Exchange Restrictions

 

     Keep in mind that during the Depression some many countries have currency, capital, foreign exchange, lending and banking restrictions of various sorts:  where and how money can be exchanged, banked or spent, who can have what currency or valuable metals, in what quantities, etc. Diplomats are exempt from these restrictions, and in any case their luggage and persons are rarely subject to searches.

     For example, British subjects aren't normally allowed to take more than £75 out of the country in the form of British coins or bills. Denmark and Germany instituted foreign exchange controls in 1931, and Italy in 1934 -- these limited the amounts of funds you could remove from the country. In 1934 the United States applied restrictions on foreign exchange, and on the movement of gold and currency. From 1931, Austria and Estonia have complete prohibitions on the export of capital (travellers can't take more money out than they took in).

     On May 26, 1934 the Italian government prohibited the export of Italian currency (or checks, etc. denominated in lira).

     Starting in March of 1935 the remaining "gold standard" nations (notably Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Poland and Switzerland) began to abandon the gold standard; currency values become much more variable after that.

     In the 1930s Greece has strong restrictions on foreign exchange; every foreigner entering the nation must declare the sums in foreign currencies carried (including traveller's checks, letters of credit, etc.). When the foreigner leaves Greece, they cannot remove more money than they brought in -- at least, not without permission from the central bank.

     The three main methods of illegally circumventing currency restrictions in 1930s Europe: 

 

  • bribery of central bank employees

  • smuggling

  • bribery of diplomats

 

     Conditions, at least as far as adventurers are concerned, began to stabilize beginning in 1936.

 

Egyptian common coins, circa 1934

 

Sight Drafts

 

     A "sight draft" is a method of sending funds between banks. An example, the size of a typical personal check, mailed to the person who will be receiving the funds. The reverse side gets the usual endorsements and stamps as seen on a personal check. There are revenue stamp(s) affixed on the front, for tax purposes, along with an official stamp by the issuing bank, and the signature of a bank official. Here's an example, which would be typed.

 

     L20.  10s.  0d.                            MAY FIRST, 1935.

 

     AT SIGHT PAY TO THE ORDER OF THE BANK OF ATHENS THIS SOLE OF

     EXCHANGE THE SUM OF 20 POUNDS TEN SHILLINGS. VALUE RECEIVED.

     PAYABLE AT THE COLLECTING BANK'S SELLING RATE ON DAY OF PAYMENT

     FOR SIGHT DRAFTS ON LONDON.

 

     TO - MR. CLIVE WHITE,

                  CORFU 

 

 

 

British Currency in the 1930s

 

     The guinea has not been minted or used in trade as an actual coin or note for over a century -- it's a conventional description of 21 shillings, or just slightly more than one pound sterling. Prices in guineas are usual for expensive items, such as luxury cars, racehorses, expensive rifles and shotguns, yachts, prizes at sporting events, art and expensive items at auctions, large amounts of land, rents and leases of properties in upper-class parts of cities, doctors' and other professionals' fees, tailored clothing and other things perceived as being "upper class". The abbreviation for an amount in guineas is a lower-case 'g'.

     The sovereign was a gold coin, worth £1, but was last minted in Britain before the Great War. Australian gold sovereigns were last minted in 1932; with the currency problems of the Thirties, they're rarely seen in use as money in Britain -- but are still used in the Middle East and North Africa.

     Paper banknotes seen in circulation are 10 shillings, and £1, £2, £5, £10 and £50. Some of the older 10 shilling notes are issued by the Treasury; the others are usually issued by the Bank of England. £50 notes are not very common, and attract attention when used; larger notes exist (£100, £500, and £1000), but mostly for use by large companies or banks -- it would be a rare shop that would accept any of these notes as payment, for example. 

     Amounts of money are usually presented as an amount in pounds, shillings and pence, such as:

 

£4 12s 6d

or

4/12/6

 

     For amounts under a pound, it's usually presented as x/y. Twenty shillings make up a pound; twelve pence make up a shilling. The usual abbreviation for "pence" is the lower-case letter 'd'. Other coins are in use, but less often used to "price" things.

 

  • shilling:  the basic silver coin, one-twentieth of a pound sterling. In slang, called a bob.

  • florin:  2 shillings (one-tenth of a pound sterling), another silver coin. In slang, called two bob (being worth two shillings).

  • crown:  5 shillings (one-quarter of a pound sterling), a silver coin.

  • sixpence:  6 pence, thus half a shilling; also known colloquially as a tanner. A common amount of a tip.

  • threepence:  3 pence of course; a minimum sort of tip.

  • penny:  one-240th of a pound sterling.

 

     Smaller coins such as the half-penny or farthing aren't too important for adventurers ...

 

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