Polish złoty

Not to be confused with Zloți.
Polish złoty
Polski złoty  (Polish)
200-złotych banknote obverse (1994 series)5-złotych coin obverse
ISO 4217
Code PLN
1100 Grosz
Plural The language(s) of this currency belong(s) to the Slavic languages. There is more than one way to construct plural forms.
Grosz gr
Banknotes 10zł, 20zł, 50zł, 100zł, 200zł
Coins 1gr, 2gr, 5gr, 10gr, 20gr, 50gr, 1zł, 2zł, 5zł
User(s) Poland
Central bank National Bank of Poland
Website www.nbp.pl
Mint Mennica Polska
Website www.mennica.com.pl
Inflation −0.5%
Source [1] (July 2016)

The złoty (pronounced [ˈzwɔtɨ];[2] sign: ; code: PLN), which literally means "golden", is the currency of Poland. The modern złoty is subdivided into 100 groszy (singular: grosz; alternative plural form: grosze). The recognized English form of the word is zloty, plural zloty or zlotys.[3] The currency sign, zł, is composed of the Polish lower-case letters z and ł (Unicode: U+007A z LATIN SMALL LETTER Z & U+0142 ł LATIN SMALL LETTER L WITH STROKE).

As a result of inflation in the early 1990s, the currency underwent redenomination. Thus, on January 1, 1995, 10,000 old złotych (PLZ) became one new złoty (PLN). Since then, the currency has been relatively stable, with an exchange rate fluctuating between 2 and 4.5 złoty for a United States dollar.

Before the złoty

The predecessors of the złoty were the Polish mark (grzywna) and a kopa. Grzywna was a currency that was equivalent to approximately 210 g of silver, in the 11th century. It was used until sometime in the 14th century, when it gave way to the Kraków grzywna (approximately 198 g of silver). At the same time, first as the complement to grzywna, and then as the main currency, came a grosz and a kopa. Poland made grosz as the imitation of the Prague groschen; the idea of kopa came from the Czechs as well. A grzywna was worth 48 groszy; a kopa cost 60 groszy.[4][5][6]

First złoty

Kingdom of Poland and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

5 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
10 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
25 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
50 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
100 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
500 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
1,000 Zlotych, first issue of 1794
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth first issued złoty banknotes on 8 June 1794 under the authority of Tadeusz Kościuszko. The 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 złotych are depicted above. The latter two are very rare.

The złoty (golden) is a traditional Polish currency unit dating back to the late Middle Ages. Initially, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the name was used for all kinds of foreign gold coins used in Poland, most notably Venetian and Hungarian ducats, (however, in Ukraine, Volyn and Galicia, the name for them were the золотий - golden).[7] One złoty at the very beginning of their introduction cost 12–14 groszy; however, groszy had less and less silver as time passed. In 1496 the Sejm approved the creation of a national currency, the złoty, and its value was set at 30 groszy, a coin minted since 1347 and modelled on the Prague groschen, and a ducat (florin), whose value was 1 12 złoty.[8] The 1:30 proportion stayed (12 of a kopa), but the grosz became cheaper and cheaper, because the proportion of silver in the coin alloy diminished by time. In the beginning of the 16th century, 1 złoty was worth 32 groszy; by the middle of the same century it was 50 groszy;[9] by the reign of Sigismund III Vasa 1 złoty was worth 90 groszy, while a ducat was worth 180 groszy.

The name złoty (sometimes referred to as the florin) was used for a number of different coins, including the 30-groszy coin called the polski złoty, the czerwony złoty (red złoty) and the złoty reński (the Rhine guilder), which were in circulation at the time. However, the value of the Polish złoty dropped over time relative to these foreign coins, and it became a silver coin, with the foreign ducats eventually circulating at approximately 5 złotych.

The matters were complicated by the extremely intricate system of coins, with denominations as low as  13 groszy and as high as 12,960 groszy fit into one coin. There were no usual decimal denominations we use today: the system used 4, 6, 8, 9 and 18 groszy, which are now most uncommon. Moreover, there was no central mint, and, apart from Warsaw mint, there were the Gdańsk, Elbląg and Kurland (Riga) separate mints which did not produce the same denomination coins with the same materials. For example, the szeląg had 1.3g of copper while minted in either Kraków or Warsaw, but the local Gdańsk and Elbląg mints made it using only 0.63g of copper. This facilitated forgeries and wreaked havoc in the Polish monetary system

Following the monetary reform carried out by King Stanisław II Augustus which aimed to simplify the system, the złoty became Poland's official currency and the exchange rate of 1 złoty to 30 groszy was confirmed. The king established the system which was based on the Cologne mark (233.855 g of pure silver). Each mark was divided into 10 Conventionsthaler of the Holy Roman Empire, and 1 thaler was worth 8 złotych (consequently, 1 złoty was worth 4 grosze. The system was in place until 1787. Two devaluations of the currency occurred in the years before the final partition of Poland.

After the third partition of Poland, the name złoty existed only in Austrian and Russian lands. Prussia had introduced the mark instead.

The Kościuszko Insurrection and Russian part of Poland until 1807

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth also issued banknotes of smaller denominations, under the authority of Tadeusz Kościuszko. There are 5, 10 gr (1zł=30gr), 1 and 4 zł

On 8 June 1794 the decision of the Polish Supreme Council offered to make the new banknotes as well as the coins. 13 August 1794 was the date when the złoty banknotes were released to public. At the day there was more than 6.65 million złotych given out by the rebels. There were banknotes with the denomination of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 złotych (dated as of 8 June 1794), as well as 5 and 10 groszy, and 1 and 4 złoty coins (later banknotes, dated as of 13 August of the same year. Table)

However, it did not last for long: on 8 November, Warsaw was already held by Russia. Russians discarded all the banknotes and declared them invalid. Russian coins and banknotes replaced the Kościuszko banknotes, but the division on złote and grosze stayed. This can be explained by the fact the Polish monetary system, even in the deep crisis, was better than the Russian stable one, as Poland used the silver standard for coins. That is why Mikhail Speransky offered to come to silver monometalism ("count on the silver ruble") in his work План финансов (Financial Plans, 1810) in Russia. He argued that: "... at the same time ... forbid any other account in Livonia and Poland, and this is the only way to unify the financial system of these provinces in the Russian system, and as well they will stop, at least, the damage that pulls back our finances for so long."

Duchy of Warsaw

The złoty remained in circulation after the Partitions of Poland and the Duchy of Warsaw issued coins denominated in grosz, złoty and talar (plurals talary and talarów), worth 6 złoty. Talar banknotes were also issued. In 1813, while Zamość was under siege, Zamość authorities issued 6 grosze and 2 złote coins.

Congress Poland

Models of Polish coins under the reign of Alexander I

On 19 November O.S. (1 December N.S.) 1815, the law regarding the monetary system of Congress Poland (in Russia) was passed, according to which the złoty stayed, but there was a fixed ratio of the ruble to the złoty: 1 złoty was worth 15 silver groszy, while 1 grosz was worth 12 silver kopeck. From 1816, the złoty started being issued by the Warsaw mint, denominated in grosze and złote in the Polish language, as well as the portrait of Alexander I and/or the Russian Empire's coat of arms:

At the same time kopecks were permitted to be circulated in Congress Poland. In fact foreign coins circulated (of the Austrian Empire and Prussia), and the Polish złoty itself was effectively a foreign currency. The coins were as well used in the western part of the Russian Empire, legally from 1827 (decision of the State Council).

In 1828 the Polish mint was allowed to print banknotes of denominations of 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 złotych, on the condition of their guaranteed exchange for coins at the will of Saint Petersburg. That meant that there should have been silver coins that had the value of 17 of banknotes in circulation.

November Uprising

5 złotych from the November Uprising of 1830-1831

At the time of the November Uprising, the rebels released their own "rebellion money" – the golden ducats and silver coins of the denomination of 2 and 5 złotych, with the revolutionary coat of arms, and the copper 3 and 10 groszy. The 1-złoty coin was as well released as a trial coin. The Polish bank, under the control of the rebels, having few precious metal resources in the reserves, released the 1 złoty banknote. They released the 5, 50 and 100 zł banknotes as well, all yellow. By August 1831 735 thousand złotych were released as banknotes. After the defeat of the uprising the decisions from 21 November (3 December) and 18 (30) December cancelled all the uprising monetary politics. All the coins were to be replaced by Russian coins, but it took a long time till the currency was circulating – only in 1838 was the usage of rebel money banned.

The last years of the first złoty of Congress Poland

At the same time the question arose about the future of the Polish złoty, as well as drastically limiting Polish banking autonomy. Russian finance minister Georg von Cancrin suggested to "value everything in rubles, not florins [złoty]".

There was a problem, however. The monetary system in the Russian Empire was still severely unbalanced. Banknotes, for example, cost much less to produce than their denomination. For that reason, the decision was taken to show both currencies on coins, which was a rather mild punishment for the November Uprising. From 1832 on the Petersburg and Warsaw mints decided to start minting new double-denominated coins. The exchange rate was 1 złoty to 15 kopecks.

In 1841 the main currency of Congress Poland became the Russian ruble.

From 1842, the Warsaw mint already issued regular-type Russian coins along with some coins denominated in both groszy and kopecks. At that time the złoty-to-ruble ratio changed again: 1 ruble was now worth only 2 złote.

The Warsaw mint still issued three coin types: double currency coins (up to 1850), złote and grosze (up to 1865), and the Russian Empire standard coins till 1865. From 1865 the Warsaw mint stopped making coins, and on 1 January 1868 the Warsaw mint was abolished.

The banknotes were changed much faster, as no Polish banknote was in circulation (at least officially). The Polish Bank started issuing Russian banknotes, denominated only in rubles and valid only in Congress Poland. At the same time the national credit banknotes, made in St. Petersburg, could be used everywhere in the Empire as usual Russian banknotes, as well in Poland.

The Free City of Kraków złoty

1 złoty, released in Kraków in 1835
Main article: Kraków złoty

Between 1835 and 1846, the Free City of Kraków also used a currency, the Kraków złoty, with the coins actually being made in Vienna. There were 5 and 10 groszy coins and 1 złoty coins. They were all the same: the obverse had the coat of arms and the writing: WOLNE MIASTO KRAKÓW ("Free City of Krakow"), the reverse had the nominal and the year of production.

Poland without the złoty

10 Polish marks, 1917

From 1850, the only currency issued for use in Congress Poland was the ruble consisting of Russian currency and notes of the Bank Polski. The monetary system of Congress Poland was unified with that of the Russian Empire following the failed January Uprising in 1863. However, the gold coins remained in use until the early 20th century, much like other gold coins of the era, most notably gold rubles (dubbed świnka, or "piggy") and sovereigns. Following the occupation of Congress Poland by Germany during World War I in 1917, the ruble was replaced by the marka (plurals marki and marek), a currency initially equivalent to the German Papiermark.

Polish currency in 1918–24

Main article: Polish marka

New Poland started releasing new currency – Polish marks, after the defeat of the German Empire and Austro-Hungary. The first banknotes had either Tadeusz Kościuszko (5, 10, 100, 1000 marks) or Queen Jadwiga (10 and 500 marks). 1 and 20 marks also circulated, but they showed nobody on the banknotes.

The Polish marka was extremely unstable because of the constant wars with its neighbours. Attempts to reduce the expenditures of Polish budget were vain – all the money gained went to conduct war with the USSR. To complicate the matters, those attempts did not please the elite, which ruled the country. The government's actions were not popular at all, so the taxes did not rise significantly, in order to avoid popular resentment. Even worse, the territories that made up Poland were rightly coined "the country of three parts", as each part of Poland developed differently during the 123 years after Stanisław II Augustus' abdication, with post-Prussian territories the best developed, and Austrian Galicia and Russian Kresy the worst.

The last attempt to save the Polish marka was made in 1921, when Jerzy Michalski made out his own plan to raise taxes and reduce expenditure. The Sejm accepted it, albeit with many amendments. Realisation of that plan did not succeed, and it had only short-term influence.

This disrupted the whole economy of Poland, and galloping inflation began. The 12 marek and 5,000 marek banknotes became worthless in two years. As hyperinflation progressed, Poland came to print 1, 5 and 10 million mark banknotes. However, they were quickly almost valueless. 10 million marks cost only US$1,073 in January 1924. Immediate action was needed. Władysław Grabski was invited to stop the pending hyperinflation. As a result, the second Polish złoty was created.

Second złoty

Grabski monetary reform

The złoty was reintroduced as Poland's currency by Grabski in 1924, following the hyperinflation and monetary chaos of the years following World War I. It replaced the marka at a rate of 1 złoty = 1,800,000 marek and was subdivided into 100 groszy, instead of 30 groszy, as it had been earlier. 1 złoty was worth 0.2903 grams of gold, and 1 US dollar cost 5.18 złotych. New coins had to be introduced, but were not immediately minted or in circulation. The temporary solution of the problem was ingenious. 500,000 marek banknote were cut in two, and on each side there were overstamps that showed they were 1 grosz "coins". Similarly 10,000,000 marek notes were divided and overprinted to make two "coins" each worth 5 groszy. This was an emergency measure to provide the population with a form of the new currency.

Transition to złoty

When the second złoty was created, it was pegged to the US dollar. The Sejm was a weak in its financial control. Yet political parties demanded the government spend more money than had been projected in the budget.

Budget defecit ballooned and inflation was developing coming out of control. The government struggled to cut expenditure, and as a result often came into conflict with the Sejm. However, the government could not allow hyperinflation to reoccur. To achieve that, the government authorised issue of securities, which went along with the temporary "bilety zdawkowe", coins and złoty banknotes printed in 1919.

By the end of 1925 the Polish government was unable to redeem the released securities. The Polish economy was on the brink of collapse.

86. Regiment of Infantry's 1 złoty coin from Mołodeczno

Despite the crisis, Grabski refused to accept foreign help, because he was concerned Poland would become dependent on the League of Nations. The Polish PM thought that after the złoty stabilised, foreign financiers would be persuaded to give credits and make investments on more favourable conditions than were recently on offer. However, deep-rooted lack of confidence in the Polish economy had made these expectations unrealisable. Grabski's government was forced to sell some of the country's property on unfavourable conditions, without any significant effects. Eventually, the złoty depreciated some 50% from its 1923 value and Grabski resigned as Prime Minister. However renewed hyperinflation was averted.

Poland's economy weakened further to the point it was evident that the system could no longer function. The crisis climaxed in November 1925 leading to the Sanacja coup d'état.

Piłsudski's reforms

In May 1926 a coup d'état was effected. It resulted in Józef Piłsudski becoming the authoritarian leader of Poland. Almost immediately the budget was stabilised. Tax incomes rose significantly, credits was received from the USA, and the Bank of Poland's policy came more strongly under the government's control. These developments prevented the Polish economy's further deterioration.

As had happened earlier in the case of both Austria and Hungary, a special monitoring commission arrived in Poland to analyse the economic situation. The commission was headed by Edwin W. Kemmerer, an American economist and "money doctor".

The złoty started to stabilise in 1926 (thanks chiefly to significant exports of coal), and was re-set on the dollar-złoty rate 50% higher than in 1924. Up to 1933 złoty was freely exchanged into gold and foreign currencies. From these developments the government concluded adopted the Gold Standard for its currency.

In 1924–1925 the banks experienced large capital outflows, but by 1926 people were investing actively in the banks. The economic progress built on increased demand for and exports of coal slowed down because of over-valued złoty during 1927. As a result, imports became relatively cheaper as compared to exports, and the Balance of Trade trade balance turned to negative. Again, Poland plunged into crisis. In total, the economic growth in years 1926 to 1929 was not strongly felt. The main reason for that was the decline of industry, which was influenced by declining demand for Polish items. The crisis deepened with the Great Crisis of 1929–1932 and lasted until the mid-30s.

Polish złoty in 1930s

Poland entered another economic crisis, causing the government again to attempt reduction of its budget deficit by cutting public expenditure other than for military purposes. Despite cutting spend by a third, deficit persisted. Tax income that should have been used to lead the country out of crisis was instead financing the debt burden. Money required to stimulatee the economy was devoted by the government to creditors and foreign banks. Further spending cuts necessitated Poland importing less and exporting more. Import tariffs were increased again for foreign products, while subsidies were given to exporters.

In 1935 Piłusdski died, and the power passed to the generals. They were very disturbed by the crisis. Poland was still an agarian country with 61% of the population involved in 1931. To reform the economy, the government was thinking about further intervention. As a result between 1935 and 1939, Poland nationalised its major industries, initiating the changes the communists complteted after 1945. Volumes of produced goods output from state-owned factories exceeded expectations. The result was instant - the economy stabilised, and fears of further złoty devaluation reduced while rapid growth was seen. However, World War II abruptly terminated all prosperity. With the Russian invasion from the east the government had to flee the country. Already in emigration, the government released new banknotes of the denomination of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 złotych which were dated by 15 or 20 August 1939 and were mostly cyan, blue or blue-green (with the exception of 1, 2, 10 and 100 złotych). These were printed in the USA but never released.

General Government

When German invaders established the General Government, they withdrew the 100 złotych banknotes from 1932 and 1934 and 500 złotych banknotes from 1919. The banknotes had to be accounted on the deposits of the people who gave them to the bank.

1 złoty bilet zdawkowy, issued in Będzin at the beginning of Nazi occupation

The 100 złotych banknotes were overstamped in red with: "Generalgouvernement / für die besetzen polnischen Gebiete" (The General Government / for the occupied Polish territories). It was massively counterfeited.

A little later the bank division of the Główny Zarząd Kas Kredytowych Rzeszy Niemieckiej was organized. It started to print the Reichsmarks, but later, on December 15, 1939, a decision came to create the new Bank Emisyjny (Emissary Bank) in Kraków, as the Bank Polski officials fled to Paris. It started working on 8 April 1940.

In May 1940, old banknotes of 1924–1939 were overstamped by the new entity. Money exchange was limited per individual; the limits varied according to the status of the person. The fixed exchange rate 1 Reichsmark = 2 złote was established. A new issue of notes appeared in 1940-41. The General Government also issued coins (1, 5, 10 and 20 groszy in zinc, 50 groszy in nickel-plated iron or iron), using similar designs to earlier types but with cheaper metals (mainly zinc-copper alloy). 1, 5, 10 and 20 groszy coins were dated 1923 and 50 groszy were dated 1938.

Banknotes were also issued, called unofficially "młynarki" (from the name of President Feliks Młynarski) or "krakowiaki" (from the place of release), in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 złotych. 1000 złotych did not come into public circualtion at all, and only reconstructions survive (although shown below). The total amount of them was approximately 10,183 million złotych. Additional 20 millions were manufactured by the conspiratory typography of the Union of Armed Struggle. From summer 1943 the Home Army received the złote produced in Great Britain.

Communist Poland (1945-1950)

The advance of the Red Army meant the transition to socialism, Poland being no exception.

The first monetary reform of post-war Poland was conducted in 1944, when the initial series of banknotes of communist Poland was released. This was essential for the recreation of the country, so the Polish Committee of National Liberation signed an act on 24 August 1944 introducing the banknotes. The older General Government banknotes were exchanged at par with the new ones. There were limits, however – 500 złotych only for an individual and 2000 złotych for the private enterprises and small manufacturers. The rest came onto the blocked bank accounts.

The banknotes had a very simple design, with no people or buildings featured. They carrieed the name of the as yet unformed Narodowy Bank Polski (the National Bank of Poland). Printing completed at the Goznak mint in Moscow. All the new banknotes of the series I (except for the 50 groszy, and 1000 złotych, which were only released later) had a faulty inscription, containing a russianism.

On 15 January 1945 the National Bank of Poland was finally created. Its first monetary action was the printing of 1000 złotych banknote in the newly built Polska Wytwórnia Papierów Wartościowych in Łódź. The first Communist series' banknotes were easy to counterfeit, so additional replacement banknotes were printed in 1946–48. As 500 złotych banknote was very easy to counterfeit, it was fully withdrawn in 1946.

The new (II and III) series were created from the graphic designs of Ryszard Kleczewski and Wacław Borowski.

The IV series banknotes had a longer life. Mainly due to their underdeveloped security features, the first three series were taken out of circulation in line with legislation signed on 28 October 1950, covering the introduction of the new Polish złoty (PLZ). Older banknotes had to be exchanged within 8 days for the new series IV, which had been designed, printed and distributed in great secrecy.

About in the same time, new coins were introduced, which circulated for more than four decades.

Third złoty

In 1950, a new złoty (PLZ) was introduced, replacing all notes issued up to 1948 at a rate of one hundred to one, while all bank assets were redenominated in the ratio 100:3. The new banknotes were dated 1948, while the new coins 1949. Initially, by law with effect from from 1950 1 złoty (zł) was made equal to 0.222168g of pure gold (Dziennik Ustaw 50, 459).

As in all the Warsaw Bloc countries, Poland started nationalising major industrial and manufacturing businesses. The necessary legislative act was signed in 1946. However, smaller enterprises remained in private hands, in contrast to the USSR. Despite this concession, the whole economy was under firm state control. In the agricultural sector, farmers (still the major generation source of Polish income) received additional lands from the government. These properties were the result of confiscations from the church, wealthy families as well from farmers who would no abide by the changed policies.

In the late 1940s, Polish currency became unstable. This was largely due to internal opposition to the new regime and made an already difficult economic situation no better. Eventually things changed and the złoty became stronger in 1948-9.

Beginning in 1950, the state started implementing the collectivisation policy on a mass scale. Some farmers were grouped into newly created PGRs (State Agricultural Farms). Others supplied produce to the state for distribution and had to comply with obligatory centralised food deliveries (first of cereals, in 1951; and from 1952 on, of meat, potatoes and milk). Privately owned and ndividually-run farms were bunkrupted, as the state bought at extremely low prices, much lower than market value.

Agriculture might have been ruined in a few years if not for the death of President and latterly Secretary General of the Central Committee of the PUWP Bolesław Bierut under mysterious circumstances in 1956. The new government under Władysław Gomułka began relaxing the earlier years' hardcore Stalinist policies. State Farms were reformed, enforged obligatory deliveries reduced and state buying prices were raised. On the whole the structure was little different from that of 1949: industry was state-owned, while agriculture was mostly in private hands.

Serious reforms were proposed in early 1970s by Edward Gierek, which aimed to improve the situation for normal people. Unfortunately, the government had inadequate funds to initiate these reforms. This explains Poland's growing financial indebtedness to the USSR and other Warsaw Bloc countries, promoting the view that "the investments will upgrade the Poland's potential, which will be aimed at export, so that the country will pay the interest and at the same time maintain a high industrial production". In fact, although the intention was to create employment, it never happened. Poland's debt burden grew too large, forming the main cause of further financial crisis. After a period of prosperity in 1971-8, Poland entered into a very deep recession, which worsened over time as Poland was unable to meet devt interest obligations. The crisis was to last until 1994. The first indications of the crisis was obvious by the mid-70s, when there began a period of rampant inflation. Złoty devaluation continued. In 1980 Gierek's government was accused of corruption. He was removed from the Presidency in 1980.

Financial crisis of 1980s

The first big strikes started in Gdańsk and GOP (Upper Silesian Industrial Area). These restricted industrial production which by then had become the main economical sector. The situation was worsened by the previous period of prosperity in the early and mid 70s, which had promoted increased demand and consumption. The government was forced either to lower salaries and wages or to make workers redundant. This accelerated the crisis. Moreover, the demand was more diminished, as the government provided food rationing. The martial law of 1981–83 deepened the crisis.

By the early 80s inflation in Poland becoming out of control – over 100% per annum in 1982. It was reduced in the mid-80s to about 15% per annum, but again started in late-80s. Economic conditions did not allow any salary and pension increases because of the huge debt burden, which doubled in the 1980s. By 1981 it was admitted that the situation was beyond management. In an effort to escape such situation, Poland started massively printing banknotes, without any covering from bank resources. Banknotes denominated at 5,000 złotych were introduced in 1982, 10,000 złotych in 1988, 20,000 and 50,000 złotych in 1989, and 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 złotych in 1990. Grosz coins were rendered worthless and coins were mostly made out of aluminium (with the exception of the commemorative ones).

Given the circumstances, the only solution appeared to be the liberisation of the economy. In 1988 Mieczysław Rakowski was forced to accept the possibility of transition of the state enterprises into private hands. In fact, as stated earlier, smaller enterprises were private, and 18% of GDP was made by private sector, additional 10% – by the cooperatives. These were not, however, the Perestroika cooperatives, but ones with limited experience in the market economy. These were ready to transfer to a market economy. The Communist authorities had to admit they had no grip on the economy, which was another reason to introduce changes.

Leszek Balcerowicz was behind the idea of shifting the economic basis from state-based to free-trade. To achieve this, the following were introduced:

The worst years of the crisis began in 1988, when the level of inflation rose higher than 60% per annum. Inflation peaked in 1990, characterised as hyperinflation, as the monthly rate was higher than 50%. However by December 1991 it decreased below 60% per annum, and by 1993 it firmly established below 40%, which was an acceptable inflation rate for the economy. As a result, the złoty regained the confidence of foreign investors. The remaining issue was the redenomination of the depreciated złoty.

Polish złoty coins (PLZ)

In 1949, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 groszy and 1 złoty coins were issued. The first two denominations were minted only in 1949, the rest also later.

In 1952, Poland's official name was changed from "Republic of Poland" to "People's Republic of Poland". Coins minted in 1949 featured the former name. The 5 groszy brass coin was withdrawn in 1956. The rest circulated until 1994.

The 2, 5 and 10 złotych banknotes were withdrawn in 1960s to be exchanged for coins.

The coins from 1 grosz to 2 złote were quite simple designs but the 5, 10 and 20 złotych coins featured people (5 złotych had a fisherman, 10 złotych had Copernicus, Mickiewicz with Prus on its obverse, and 20 złotych, most notably, Marceli Nowotko), until the 1980s. As the Polish złoty became cheaper over time, older coins were rendered worthless (however, they stayed in circulation), and the simple new coins were released only in złote denominations. All the PRP and 1990 issued coins were withdrawn in 1994, as a result of the monetary reform conducted at that time.

Polish złoty banknotes (PLZ)

Normal złoty

The banknotes issued in 1948 were already stable version. They were taken out of circulation in 1978 completely.

From 1974 the new banknotes featuring "Great Polish people", and comprising the fifth series, were issued. Previous series were withdrawn from circulation. However, the replacement banknotes rapidly lost their real value. New larger denominations were necessary and printed.

In 1982, the 10 and 20 złotych banknotes were released instead of billon.

The last banknote released in Polish People's Republic was 200,000 złotych note, issued on 1 December 1989, which, because of its inadequate security features, was withdrawn from circulation. Starting on 27 December 1989 new banknotes were issued in the name of "Rzeczpospolita Polska", ie omitting the word "Ludowa" (People's), and from the coat of arms were altered to show the eagle wearing a crown restoring the situation that existed before World War II.

Banknotes of this series were redenominated at the rate of 10,000 PLZ to 1 PLN (new złoty). All the existing PLZ denominations were legal tender and exchangeable into the PLN until the date of each value's withdrawal. After 31 December 2010, no PLZ banknote could be exchanged into PLN.

From 50,000 PLZ on, there were two versions released: older ones (dated differently) and the newer ones (all dated 16 November 1993). The older banknotes had less efficient security features than the new ones. Newer printings had the denomination printed in red which shone under ultraviolet light instead of the previous grey-blue (which did not).

Złoty dewizowy

A traveller cheque, one of the types of "złoty dewizowy"

Between 1950 and 1990, a unit known as the złoty dewizowy (which may be roughly translated as the "foreign exchange złoty") was used as an artificial currency for calculation purposes only. It existed because at the time the złoty was not convertible (like most Warsaw Bloc currencies) and its official rate of exchange was set by the Government. Additionally several exchange rates existed depending on the purpose of the transaction and who was exchanging, for example złoty could be exchanged for, say, US dollars at one of several official exchange rates depending on what was to be bought with the hard currency and the entity that was buying. In reverse it worked when an individual or a business had western currency earnings and wanted (or needed) to convert them into złote. The exchange rate did not depend on the amount being converted. Visitors from countries outside of the Soviet Bloc were offered a particularly poor exchange rate. Concurrently, the private black-market exchange rate contrasted sharply with the official government exchange rate until the end of communist rule in 1989 when official rates were tied to market rates.

There were special banknotes, denominated in cents and dollars (as the US dollar), which were legal tender only for goods imported to Poland. They were issued by two authorities only: Pekao S.A. (from 1 cent to $100) and Baltona (from 1979 for 1 cent to $20).

From January 1, 1990, Polish złoty became a fully convertible currency, with market-set (rather state-determined) rates against foreign currencies.

Fourth złoty

Normal coins and banknotes

On 17 July 1990 Władysław Baka (the then head of the National Bank of Poland) (NBP) stated that development work upon złoty denomination would start soon. At the same time PLN coins were minted (bearing dates 1990-1994) and released into circulation in 1995. This influenced the further process of money exchange in 1995, as exchanging low-value banknotes became considerably easier.

The banknotes posed a bigger problem. In 1990, a new series of banknotes from 1 to 500 zł was created by Waldemar Andrzejewski, was proposed, but failed acceptance testing due weak counterfeiting protection features. The designs featured buildings and structures from Greater Poland cities and proofs produced. Additionally 1,000 zł (Kalisz) and 2,000 zł (Biskupin) banknotes were proposed (but not essayed) to facilitate an exchange rate of 1 new zloty to 1000 old zlotys).

At the same time, to conduct redenomination, the inflation had to be stable and below 10% per annum. Balcerowicz plan helped very much to achieve that in four years' time. On 11 May 1994 the Economical Committee of the Council of Ministers accepted the denominalization project from the NBP. The act allowing the project to come into force was ratified on 7 July 1994 (Dziennik Ustaw Nr 84, 386).

At the same time, new banknotes were printed (dated 25 March 1994), which are still legal tender today. These feature the most prominent Polish monarchs. Their author is Andrzej Heidrich.

These designs were revealed to the public on the 21 November 1994. The following day TVP, (Polish television), began publicising the designs on TV in a campaign that lasted until 1 January 1995 when the redenomination took place. 10,000 PLZ became 1 PLN. Unlike previous redenominations there were no restrictions on where the money was or who owned it.

The new Polish złoty (PLN) was released it co-existed with the PLZ, for two years. All prices had to be indicated in both PLZ and PLN. The priority was to take the low-denomination PLZ to convert them to coinage. After 31 December 1996, PLZ was no longer legal tender. Between then and 31 December 2010, any PLZ banknotes and could only be exchanged into PLN by the NBP, its affiliates, or any bank. The sum for exchange had to be the multiple of 100 PLZ, which were worth 0.01 PLN. As of 31 December 2009, NBP estimate that some 1,748,000,000,000 PLZ (178,400,000 PLN) had not yet been exchanged.

There was one thing that did not change: the official name of the currency. Although the ISO 4217 was altered the relevant legislation made the point that the official name of the currency is still the złoty. New Polish złoty is an unofficial way to address the Polish currency (Dziennik Ustaw nr 50, 459, with later changes).

Issue details of zloty and grosz coins are shown in the table below:[15]

In 2012 new banknotes were printed, with added security features. They do not differ greatly from the first version (except for the 200zł note), but may be distinguished by the colour of the field with the watermark on the obverse. In the original banknotes, these correspond to the note's main colour, while they are white on the newer ones. Starting from 50 złotych, the new security features differ from those on the older banknotes. Newer banknotes also have some randomly arranged dots, which are part of the EURion constellation.

A 500 złotych banknote will be also produced in this series, currently scheduled for introduction in February 2017.

Commemorative coins and banknotes

Poland has released commemorative banknotes since 2006. As of June 2016, eight have been issued.

There are also very many commemorative coins (listed below). These are legal tender in all payments, but such use is not recommended by the National Bank of Poland (NBP).

Future of złoty

One of the conditions of Poland's joining the European Union in May 2004 obliges the country eventually to adopt the euro, though not at any specific date and only after Poland meets the necessary stability criteria. Serious discussions regarding joining the Eurozone have ensued.[18][19][20] However, article 227[21] of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland will need to be amended first,[22] so it seems unlikely that Poland will adopt the euro before 2019.[23] Public opinion research by CBOS from March 2011 shows that 60% of Poles are against changing their currency. Only 32% of Poles want to adopt the euro, compared to 41% in April 2010.[24]

Exchange rates

1990 9500,00 12070,50 5864,19 16862,50 6884,05 65,45
1991 10584,26 13088,29 6378,62 18 652,81 7379,05 78,7235
1992 13630,12 17662,35 8761,51 24009,90 9742,76 107,7766
1993 18164,84 21204,91 10975,20 27274,86 12308,00 164,16
1994 22726,95 26913,49 14049,60 34772,23 16670,93 224,16
1995 2,4244 3,1358 1,6928 3,8257 2,0545 0,0258
1996 2,6965 3,3774 1,7920 4,2154 2,1826 0,0248
1997 3,2808 3,7055 1,8918 5,3751 2,2627 0,0272
1998 3,4937 3,9231 1,9888 5,7907 2,4149 0,0268
1999 3,9675 4,2270 2,1612 6,4197 2,6413 0,0350
2000 4,3464 4,0110 2,0508 6,5787 2,5747 0,0403
2001 4,0939 3,6685 end 1,9558 5,8971 2,4298 0,0337
2002 4,0795 3,8557 6,1293 2,6288 0,0329
2003 3,8889 4,3978 6,3570 2,8911 0,0339
2004 3,6540 4,5340 6,6904 2,9370 0,0337
2005 3,2348 4,0254 5,8833 2,5999 0,0294
2006 3,1025 3,8951 5,7116 2,4761 0,0266
2007 2,7667 3,7829 5,5310 2,3035 0,0235
2008 2,3708 3,4908 4,2200 2,2291 0,0234
2009 3,1175 4,3276 4,8563 2,8665 0,0333
2010 3,0179 3,9939 4,6587 2,8983 0,0345
2011 2,9636 4,1190 4,7463 3,3474 0,0373
2012 3,2581 4,1852 5,1605 3,4724 0,0409
2013 3,1608 4,1975 4,9437 3,4100 0,0324
2014 3,0315 4,1631 5,0167 3,3816 0,028778
2015 3,5725 4,3078 5,5296 3,5833 0,029671
2016 3,9011 4,2615 5,7862 3,9394 0,032411
Current PLN exchange rates

Name and plural forms

The name złoty is pronounced like zwoti [ˈzwɔtɨ]. There are two plural forms: złote (zwoteh [ˈzwɔtɛ]) and złotych (zwotikh [ˈzwɔtɨx]). The correct usage of the plural forms is as follows:

The rules are the same for larger numbers, e.g. 1,000,000 złotych; 1,000,002 złote; 1,000,011 złotych; 1,000,024 złote. Fractions should be rendered with word złotego [zwɔˈtɛɡɔ] and grosza [ˈɡɾɔʂa], e.g. 0,1 złotego; 2,5 złotego, etc. It is customary in Poland to use space (non-breaking) for digit grouping (“thousands separator”) and comma for separating fractions from whole numbers; cf. decimal mark.

Here one can find general rules for declension of cardinal (among others) numerals in Polish: classes one, few, many and other for “złoty” are złoty, złote, złotych, złotego respectively and for “grosz” are grosz, grosze, groszy, grosza respectively.

See also


  1. http://www.nbp.pl/home.aspx?f=/polityka_pieniezna/dokumenty/projekcja_inflacji.html
  2. The nominative plural, used for numbers ending in 2, 3 and 4 (except those in 12, 13 and 14), is złote [ˈzwɔtɛ]; the genitive plural, used for all other numbers, is złotych [ˈzwɔtɨx]
  3. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed., p. 2078.
  4. НС 1980, «Копа».
  5. НС 1980, «Гривна польская (марка)».
  6. НС 1980, «Грош краковский (польский)».
  7. СН 1993, «Золотой».
  8. Рябцевич В. Н. (1995). "Глава VII. Денежное обращение Беларуси в конце XV — 2-й трети XVII века". Нумизматика Беларуси в конце 2-й трети XVII — середине 90-х гг. XVIII в. Мн.: Полымя. pp. 173, 687. ISBN 5-345-00737-3.
  9. НС 1980, «Злотый».
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "монеты 1-й Польской Республики 1923-1939 гг.(Coins of II Rzeczpospolita)". site coins.lave.ru. Archived from the original on 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
  11. 1 2 3 4 https://cenum.pl/katalog/Polska/II_RP/Obiegowe:10_zlotych/
  12. 1 2 "5 злотых 1936 г. яхта "Дар Поморья"". сайт ww2.ru. Archived from the original on 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
  13. "5 злотых серии Ника". сайт coins.su/forum. Archived from the original on 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
  14. "Narodowy Bank Polski".
  15. "Narodowy Bank Polski".
  16. Grupa Wirtualna Polska. "500 zł jednak powstanie. Jest deklaracja NBP". biztok.pl.
  17. The National Bank of Poland's Collector's Banknote page
  18. "Poland may hold euro referendum in 2010-Deputy PM". Forbes. September 18, 2008. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  19. "Poland may push back euro rollout to 2012". The Guardian. London. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  20. "Poland may push back euro rollout to 2012". BizPoland. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  21. "Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2nd April 1997, as published in Dziennik Ustaw (Journal of Laws) No. 78, item 483". Parliament of the Republic of Poland. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  22. "Polish charter must change before ERM-2". fxstreet.com. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2008.
  23. Sobczyk, Marcin (May 18, 2011). "Poland Backtracks on Euro Adoption". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  24. "CBOS za przyjęciem euro 32 proc. Polaków, przeciw 60 proc.". bankier.pl. March 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
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