Polish marka

The marka (Polish: marka polska, Polish mark, abbreviated Mp, Polish-language plural declensions: marki, marek) was the currency of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Republic of Poland between 1917 and 1924. It was subdivided into 100 fenigs (phonetic Polish spelling of German "pfennig"), like its German original after which it was modeled.

Polish marka
marka polska  (Polish)
Polish banknote from 1917 - 10 Marek Polskich.jpg
Mp10 banknote of 1917
Denominations
Subunit
1100fenig
PluralThe language(s) of this currency belong(s) to the Slavic languages. There is more than one way to construct plural forms.
SymbolMp
 fenigf
BanknotesMp½, Mp1, Mp2, Mp5, Mp10, Mp20, Mp50, Mp100, Mp500, Mp1,000
Coins1f, 5f, 10f, 20f
Demographics
Date of introduction9 December 1917
ReplacedPolish rubel
Date of withdrawalApril 1924
Replaced byPolish złoty
Official user(s)Poland Kingdom of Poland (1917–1918)
 Second Polish Republic
Unofficial user(s)Flag of Central Lithuania 1920.svg Republic of Central Lithuania
Issuance
Central bankPolish Loan Bank (Polska Krajowa Kasa Pożyczkowa)
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.
A rare example of a Mp1 note printed in 1919, when the name of the new Polish state was still not certain and was thus used the neutral phrase Polish state
20 fenigów coin
Mp10 and Mp20 from 1919
Obverse
Reverse
Mp100 note (1919)

HistoryEdit

During the World War I, in 1915, after defeating the Russians, the Central Powers occupied the whole territory of the former Congress Poland and appointed two Governors General: a German (Hans Hartwig von Beseler) in Warsaw and an Austro-Hungarian (Karl Kuk [de]) in Lublin. The civil administration of the country was laid into the hands of imported German (mostly Prussian) and Austrian (mostly Polish) officials. Four currencies circulated: the Russian ruble, the German Papiermark, the German Ostruble and the Austro-Hungarian krone. On December 9 the following year, after consultations with the Austrians, the chief of the German Administration, Wolfgang von Kries [de] proclaimed the foundation of a new bank, called the Polish Loan Bank (Polska Krajowa Kasa Pożyczkowa) and the creation of a new currency unit, the Polish mark, equivalent to the German mark. The stability of the new currency was guaranteed by the German Reichsbank up to the amount of 1 billion marks.

In 1917 new coins (1f, 5f, 10f and 20f) and banknotes (Mp½, Mp1, Mp2, Mp5, Mp10, Mp20, Mp50, Mp100, Mp500 and Mp1,000) were introduced and started to replace all the previously-used currencies. All the banknotes were white with the White Eagle of Poland on a red field. At the time of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, 880 million marks were already in circulation. The new Polish government decided to retain the mark as the national currency and to allow the Loan Bank to continue operating. The following year the German-made banknotes were replaced in circulation with new locally printed ones. These featured Polish historical motifs. The notes of Mp1, Mp10 and Mp500 displayed a picture of Queen Jadwiga, the notes of Mp5, Mp10, Mp100 and Mp1,000 showed Tadeusz Kościuszko. A silver coin of Mp50 was planned but never issued due to the galloping inflation.

Poland, already devastated after 123 years of partitions and by 5 years of war, now entered a series of armed struggles, which crippled the economy even more. In 1920, during the Polish-Bolshevik War, new banknotes of Mp½ with Kosciuszko and Mp5,000 with both the Queen and Kosciuszko came into use. There were now 5 billion marks in circulation. However, the following years the crisis deepened and by 1922 a period of truly ruinous inflation began. By then there were 207 billion marks in circulation. It was necessary to print notes of Mp10,000 and Mp50,000. At the beginning of the following year the inflation gained even more momentum and speed, and notes of Mp100,000, Mp250,000, Mp500,000 and Mp1,000,000 were introduced, only to be followed by notes of Mp5,000,000 and Mp10,000,000 later that year.

Early in 1924, financial reforms devised by politician and economist Władysław Grabski were instituted. The Bank Polski was proclaimed as the new central bank of Poland. The mark was exchanged for a new, gold-based currency, the złoty, at the rate of Mp1,800,000 to zł1. One American dollar was then worth zł5.18—or Mp9,324,000.

Exchange ratesEdit

Exchange rate of 1 United States dollar to the Polish mark:

  • 1919 - Mp90
  • 1921 - Mp6,000
  • May 1923 - Mp52,000
  • July 1923 - Mp140,000
  • Beginning of November 1923 - Mp2,000,000
  • End of November 1923 - Mp5,000,000
  • January 1924 - Mp9,300,000

ReferencesEdit

  • Tadeusz Kałkowski, Tysiąc lat monety polskiej, Cracow 1981
  • Paweł Zaremba, Historia dwudziestolecia 1918-1939 (1 - 2), Paris 1981

External linksEdit