Why was old foreign paper money so darn large?

Discussion in 'Paper Money' started by hotwheelsearl, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Cheap B-Tard

    I've noticed that older foreign bills are often HUGE, at least compared to modern US bills.


    At first I thought it was due to buying power. For example, the 1912 500 ruble note at the time had an exchange rate of approximately $20,000 in 2018 dollars.

    The 1931 Yugoslavia 1000 dinara is about $270 in today's dollars.

    So quite a bit. But, the US had $100,000 notes that were not HUGE.

    What gives?
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  3. George McClellan

    George McClellan Active Member

    $100,000 US dollars in silver dollars would fetch ballpark $1,700,000 today.
  4. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    First, $100,000 notes were never released to the public, they only circulated between banks.

    Your perspective is kind of culturally biased. U.S. notes have always been of standard size regardless of denomination - so that's what you are used to. But many countries did (and still do) have denominations that varied in size, so citizens there came to expect high-value notes to be physically larger than small change. They would ask an American why our currency is so small.
    harrync likes this.
  5. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    Older U.S. currency was large too. You do mean measured size, and not purchasing power, right?
    enamel7 likes this.
  6. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    That is correct; pre-1929 is considered large size currency. However, it was all uniform in size.
  7. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    100,000 silver dollars , 1 at 90% contains a little more than 3/4 of an ounce of silver, .7735 at current spot is 11.42.
    That's 1,142,000 in silver and not 1.7M.
  8. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Cheap B-Tard

    Now my question is, how would people carry around these enormous bills?

    The Russian 100 and 500 ruble bills are forearm-sized. There’s no reasonable way anybody could carry this around, except in an A4 size folio or something.

    Even smaller ones, like old Yugoslavian notes are way too big to fit in anything less than a straight up folio.
  9. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    Short answer -- they folded them in quarters. :)
  10. Clawcoins

    Clawcoins Well-Known Member

    Imagine the size of the old cash registers
  11. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    I think people routinely used coins in day to day market transactions.
    Perhaps the bed sheet sized money was a way to store wealth, status symbol without really spending it, rather than keep it in a bank which may not have been insured then, and, perhaps that made it more difficult for counterfeiters?
    It is a fair question.
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  12. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    The early European banknotes were basically documents about a contract. You would bring so and so much money to a bank (or other trusted "money dealer") and get an elaborate receipt, some even hand-written, about the amount. Later these documents were used just like the "real money" they represented. Note that on some banknotes you still find statements such as the BoE's "I promise to pay the bearer on demand ..."

    KSorbo, Dave M, Kentucky and 2 others like this.
  13. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Size matters. Would you value a piece of paper the size of a postage stamp? Would you value a half dimes as much as silver dollar? Sure, much of that is psychological but much of the value of paper money, anybody's paper money, is just that, psychological.
  14. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    In the old "All Creatures Great And Small" TV series, I often notice the size of the British paper currency and it is often either folded or wadded in a pocket.
  15. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    Folding money.
    Kentucky likes this.
  16. techwriter

    techwriter Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, think about the 1998 Philippines note: size of a legal sheet of paper. Here we go:
    100000-banknote-1-1024x626.jpg 100000-banknote-2-1024x623.jpg

    Not sure about carrying it; maybe roll it up. LOL
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  17. KSorbo

    KSorbo Well-Known Member

    Is that still legal tender? If so it’s a couple grand in US currency.
  18. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    The Philippine peso devalued right around that time, I don't think it's worth that much.
    "In the early 1990s, the peso devalued again to 28 per dollar. Due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the peso devalued from 29 per dollar in July 1997 to 46.50 in 1998 and about 50 in 2001."

    So IDK if this is worth the same as the new peso after the devaluation.
  19. lettow

    lettow Senior Member

    The piso was only devalued meaning the exchange rate was adjusted. It was not replaced by a new unit of currency.

    The Central Bank of the Philippines demonetized the 100000 piso note in the last year or two.
    Michael K likes this.
  20. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    If it was demonetized, is it worth zero? That would be less, then.
  21. George McClellan

    George McClellan Active Member

    Somali shingli have a value as paper. Notes less than 1000 S. are not accepted.
    The printers can't earn any seigneurage (profit) for lower denominations.
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