Riigitaalrite kasutusest Rootsi Läänemereprovintsides 17. sajandil

Enn Küng


The use of riksdaler in the Baltic provinces of the Swedish realm in the seventeenth century

This article gives an overview of the use of riksdaler in the Baltic provinces of the Swedish realm from the end of the fi rst third of the seventeenth century to the beginning of the eighteenth century. The article relies mainly on the customs books of port towns in the Baltic provinces of the Swedish realm, and to a lesser extent on account books from Estland, Livland, and Ösel (Saaremaa), individual contracts for purchase or sale, lease agreements, and other archival materials containing monetary transfers. According to these documents, coins with different values circulated the Baltic provinces in the seventeenth century, resulting in different financial systems in Livland and Estland. Tallinn was clearly part of the Swedish financial system, since Estland had established close economic relations with the mother country. But the lack of direct economic relations between Sweden and Riga, as well as Livland in general, meant that the use of Swedish currency in those territories was not widespread. Commercial contacts with Poland-Lithuania and Russia were preferred to those with Sweden. As a result, Polish coinage was used in Riga.
However, it was benefi cial for central authorities to have financial proceedings between the province and the state (customs, taxes, rent, etc.) conducted with common coin currency: riksdaler (for everyday use) and silver daler (which served as a unit of account). The number of öre silvermynt (rundstück) as well as other silver and copper coins in riksdaler changed with time, offi cially remaining between 36 to 64 öre in the seventeenth century. The exchange rate of silver daler used as a unit of account was fi xed at 32 öre and did not vary over time.
Since riksdaler had to be used for day-to-day dealings, it resulted in a permanent shortage of those coins. Consequently, the need to mint more coins changed their value, in other words, there were more öre in riksdaler according to the market exchange rate than according to the official exchange rate. Th e rate diff erence fluctuated between two to almost ten öre. Th ese phenomena were characteristic to both the Swedish mother country as well as its overseas provinces, although there were significant variations between different towns and provinces (see also the table). In practice, it meant that the official exchange rates of coins deviated from reality. As demand grew, central authorities had to consider the actual exchange rate
and increase the content of öre in riksdaler over time.

KEYWORDS: Estonian history, Swedish history, monetary history, early modern period, 17th century.

ENN KÜNG (b. 1963) is Associate Professor at the Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu.53

Correspondence: Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia. E-mail: enn.kung@ut.ee

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12697/AA.2013.2.02

ISSN 1406-3859 (print)
ISSN 2228-3897 (online)
Journal DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/issn1406-3859