Silver denars were the first Polish coins were issued by the founder of the country, Mieszko I (960-962). Denars remained the primary coin in Poland for the next 500 years. Sigismund I (1506-48) reformed the Polish coinage, introducing a system of 1 Zloty/Taler equal to 30 groszy and 1 Ducat equal to 45 groszy. Mints in Vilius (Lithuania) and in Gdansk produced most of the coins for Poland. Sicilian scudos and French ecus (equal to 50 groszy) also circulated.
Although gold coins were produced under Sigismund III Vasa (1587-1632) and Ladislas IV (1633-48), military pressure from Sweden, Russia and the Tatars in the seventeenth century led to further debasements in Polish coins. Talers increased in value to 80 groszy and ducats to 18 zlotych. Debased boratinki (equal to 1/3 grosz) and tympfs (equal to 18 groszy) drove out good silver coins. Stanislas II Augustus Poniatowski reformed the Polish currency in 1794 with 1 ducat equal to 16 zlotych, but in 1795 the state of Poland.
Poland was incorporated into Russia on January 7, 1795, and became the Duchy of Warsaw under Napoleon on July 9, 1807. The Congress of Vienna established the Polish Kingdom, placing it in de jure personal union with, but de facto subordination to, Russia on June 20, 1815. Two insurrections against Russia failed in 1831 and 1863-1865. The Polish Kingdom was established on January 14, 1917, and it became the Polish Republic on November 22, 1918. Germany invaded Poland on September 30, 1939, annexing the western part of Poland, and turning the rest of Poland into the General Government of Poland. When Germany invaded Russia in June 1941, Poland was split in three between the General Government, the Reichskommissariate Ostland and Ukraine, and Bialystock, which was attached to East Prussia (though not formally annexed). The Polish Republic was reestablished on January 1, 1944.
The Cracow Republic existed as the "Free, Independent, and Strictly Neutral City of Cracow With Its Territory" from 1815 until March 3, 1846 when it became subject to Austria. It was reincorporated into Poland on October 18, 1918. Information on Danzig can be found in a separate entry.
Poland had two monetary systems prior to its partition between Prussia, Russia and Austria. Poland issued gold Ducats (PLD), mainly for trade, and silver Florin Zloty (PLF) for domestic use. Sigismund III Vasa reformed the currency in 1614. Ducats were issued for trade, as well as Thalers, with 5 Speciesthaler equal to 1 Augustus d'Or. There were many variations in the coins minted in Poland, but the basic divisions of the Zloty were 1 Florin Zloty (also known as the Talara) equal to 30 Groszy or 90 Shillings.
After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, the monetary systems of Germany, Austria and Russia were used in those parts that were absorbed by the respective countries. Poland was nominally in union with Russia.
After being incorporated into Russia, the Ruble was adopted as the medium of exchange in Poland. Russia had reformed the Ruble (RUEI) under Elizabeth II on November 23, 1755, setting 1 Gold Imperial equal to 10 Silver Rubles or 1000 Copper Kopeks. Paper Assignatzia (Ruble-Banco) also circulated, though usually at a discount to specie money. The monetary system was reformed on July 1, 1839 with 1 Silver Ruble (RUES) set equal to 3.5 Ruble Assignatzia (RUEA). Credit Ruble Banknotes (RUEP) replaced the Ruble Assignatzia on June 1, 1843. Russia went on the Gold Standard on January 3, 1897 and introduced the Gold Ruble, which was used until the outbreak of World War I.
The Austrian Kronen was used in Cracow, both while it was an independent state and after it had been absorbed into Austria.
After Germany invaded Poland, German Marks (DEP) were used in occupied territories. Germany introduced the Polish Marka (PLM), divisible into 100 Fenigow, at par with the German Mark in 1916. It remained legal tender until January 11, 1924. After the war, Austrian Kronen (ATK) also circulated in Poland until 1919. Following a severe inflation of the Marka, Poland introduced its own currency, the Zloty (PLO) on September 26, 1922, setting it equal to 1 Franc Germinal or 1,800,000 Marka. The Zloty was divisible into 100 Groszy.
The old Zloty remained in use until September 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Poland was divided between Germany, Lithuania and Russia, with German Reichsmarks (DER) and Reichskreditkassenschein (XDEK) used in the Western Provinces and the 'General Governorship', Lithuanian Litas (LTA) in the Province of Wilno, and Soviet Gold Rubles (SUG) used in the Eastern provinces and in Galicia before Galicia was reoccupied by German troops, who then reintroduced Reichsmarks.
The General Government, set up by the Nazis, introduced the Cracow Zloty (PLK) on May 20, 1940, forcing Polish citizens to exchange Zloty issued by the Bank Polski for banknotes of the Bank Emisyjny w Polsce in Cracow. When the Soviet Union invaded Poland, they created the Lublin Zloty (PLL) at par with the Ruble, which were issued by the Polish National Bank.
After the war, the Zloty (PLO) was reintroduced by the Government of National Unity. The Heavy Zloty replaced the Old Zloty on October 28, 1950, and it was aligned to the Ruble at par. Banknotes, debts, and credits were exchanged at the rate of 100 Old Zlote for 1 Heavy Zloty. Salaries, prices and deposits were exchanged at the rate of 3 new Zlote for 100 old Zlote. Throughout the Communist era, there were various government exchange rates on the Zloty, as well as Foreign Exchange Certificates (PLX), denominated in US Dollars and black market rates.
As in most Socialist countries, the collapse of Communism led to inflation. The Zloty was replaced by a new Zloty on January 1, 1995 with 1 New Zloty equal 10,000 Old Zlote.
Banknotes were issued by the Bank Polski under Russian Administration between 1830 and 1866. The Polska Krajowa Kasa Pozyczkowa (Polish State Loan Bank) issued banknotes between 1917 and 1924; and the Bank Polski was created on January 25, 1924, and issued banknotes until it was liquidated in October 1940. The Bank Emisyjny w Polsce issued banknotes under German occupation; and the Narodowy Bank Polski (Polish National Bank) issued banknotes from January 1945 until present.