An Austrian 500 Gulden breaks all records in Norway

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by Marius Ringsrud

October 31, 2013 – A 500 Gulden banknote changed the official auction history in Norway recently when it was sold for 912 times its estimate. It is now known as the most expensive banknote ever sold in a Norwegian auction.

A sleeping beauty
The banknote was registered as a 500 Gulden from 1916. Carefully estimated to be worth around 1,000 kroner (ca. 123 euro), it was hard to see what a treasure this was from the printed catalogue only, which had no illustration of the banknote. However, the auction firm’s homepage offered a good picture of a quite worn banknote from 1816 for the same lot number.

As opposed to the previous 185,000 kroner record in Norway, this 500 Gulden note was sold for 912,000 kroner including buyer’s fee. This is equivalent to almost 113,000 euro. It has been stated that the selling price could have been even higher if the banknote had been presented on its home market, although this is speculative.

A very rare piece from Privilegirte Österreichische Zettel-Bank
The European wars and conflicts during the 18th century damaged the economies of many great countries, including Austria. The constituting of central financial authorities was necessary to rebuild each country’s economy and reputation.

Inspired by the French and English central banks, Austria constituted its own “Privilegirte Österreichische National-Bank” on 1 June 1816, in order to fight inflation. Privilegirte Österreichische National-Bank was a private, independent stock company, which was granted the right to print banknotes. This 500-Gulden note, however, was issued by Privilegirte Österreichische Zettel-Bank, which still printed banknotes until mid-1817. The banknote that was sold on 11 October 2013 in Oslo was a so-called “redemption coupon”, worth 500 Gulden. It was printed shortly after the establishment of the central bank, and is of great rarity because of its high face value.

The banknotes, or coupons, were a result of a shortage of coins and precious metals due to the wartime expenses. However, the Austrians were successful in their handling of monetary crises; by 1847 most coupons had already been exchanged with Convention coins and Austria was again able to strike coins of precious metal. Unfortunately, this success was not to be long-lasting, as in 1848, Austria faced a new monetary crisis with the commencement of the 1848 revolution and two wars with Hungary and Italy.

To learn more about the “Privilegierte Oesterreichische National-Bank” give a look at the Oesterreichische Nationalbank website which has a section on the bank’s history.