2008 | 52 | 2(186) | 209-236
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Moneta fałszywa w Polsce średniowiecznej

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It was in the early medieval period that appeared such phenomena in coinage as: the imitative issues made of pure silver; legal pennies with intentionally reduced amount of silver; relatively scarce forgeries. The latter had usually cores made of copper, brass or bronze and covered with a thin layer of silver or other base metal, such as tin, so as to resemble the original silver coins. Such forgeries could be produced both in the official mints and illegal workshops. They were made with the purpose of deceiving their recipients. Although the finds of Early Medieval forgeries from Poland have already been the subject of several studies (Kiersnowski 1959, pp. 197-203; Suchodolski 1998, pp. 37-47), a new analysis is possible thanks to the increase in the number of such finds. Until today, sixty forged coins from Poland have been registered. They should be dated to the 11th and the early 12th century. They were found in hoards or single finds in the regions of Pomerania, Great Poland, Kuyavia, Mazovia, Silesia and Lesser Poland. The oldest recorded forgeries were found at the emporium in Janow Pomorski (Truso). These are the three forged early Abbasid dirhams (dated to the former part of the 9th century), with copper core covered with silver. A bit later forgeries are dated to the 10th and the former part of the 11th century; these are forged German (mostly Saxon and Bavarian) pennies. There is also one forgery of £thelred II’s coin. It is difficult to determine the place of origin of these coins, but it seems that the vast majority of them were made outside the Polish lands. Some of them probably came out of the official German mints. There was a significant change in the latter part of the 11th century, when German-like coins dissappeared and forgeries of cross pennies, mostly younger types V and VI, began to dominate. Forgeries of cross pennies in Bavarian and Łupawa type are represented by one specimen each from the period in question. Although some of the forged cross pennies had still Saxon origin, the vast majority seems to be work of the local workshops. Hipothesis about local origin of the forged cross pennies of younger types is supported by several hints. The settlement in Zgłowiączka yielded ten out of 39 specimens of such forgeries and coins from the Kuyavia (partly identified hoard or group of single finds from Kruszwica and Wloclawek) and Mazovia (hoard of Naruszewa) account for 40 percent of all forged cross pennies of younger types. Among them are at least four pairs of coins struck with the same dies. All these facts are allow to conclude that at the end of the 11th century, perhaps even until the turn of the 12th century, there was a local production of the forged cross pennies of younger types in Kuyavia. The possible places of their production were first of all local centers of political power: Kruszwica, Wloclawek and Brest Kujawski. But they could have been also minted in smaller settlements, like Zgłowiączka, which was an important place of production salt since the latter part of the 11th century. Judging on the collected material and its nature, cross pennies were forged rather on a limited scale in the 11th -12th century. The total number of all forged cross pennies is only 0.078 percent of all cross pennies of the types in question. Those die links that have been so far identified (there are probably many more of them, yet difficult to identify because of corrosion) certify that the forged cross pennies constituted a small fraction of the mass of coins in circulation on the market. Most propably the representatives of the elite of that time, ruling in the peripheral, but still important centers of local power, were the forgers. Apart of some stylistic variations, Polish finds have many similarities in comparison with other forgeries, discovered in Mecklenburg, Latvia and Estonia. In all cases, it were coins in circulation on the market that were forged. They were produced in the local centers of power and they constituted a very small part of the total monetary mass on the market. The appearance of forgeries in the circulation marks the approximate time when it came to the monetization of the market in Slavonic lands in the early Middle Ages. It was thus the latter part of the 11th century in the case of the territory under the rule of Polish Piast dynasty. If so, we should assume that a currency economy based on the gross value of noble metal had to be introduced earlier. R. Kiersnowskiego stated that this moment was marked by the appearance of a large number of hack silver hoards, i.e. the end of the 10th century (3 figures, 2 plates with 41 coins illustrated).
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  • Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, al. Solidarności 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland
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