The end of a 135 year long monetary history?

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September 23rd, 2010 – The Norwegian National Bank wants to follow its counterpart in Sweden and stop a 135 year old tradition issuing 50-øre-pieces.

Photo: Norwegian National Bank.

Since the Norwegian government changed its silver standard to gold standard by law of June 6. 1873, Norwegians have used the monetary units “krone” and “øre”. Ever since 1874/5 100 øre have been equal to 1 krone, and 1 krone was (not any more) equal to 0,40323 g of pure gold. The idea of a change from silver- to gold standard resulted in a Scandinavian monetary union agreement in 1875, and Denmark and Sweden changed their “speciesdaler” and “riksdaler” to “krone” and “krona”. The Norwegian speciedaler was equal to 4 kroner, and the Scandinavian governments hoped that this early “Euro”-cooperation would make it possible to use one land’s currency in the whole of Scandinavia.
Because of the continuous inflation during the last 50 years silver was abandoned for cheaper metals (copper and nickel). The last silver 50-øre was made in 1919 under the regime of king Haakon VII, only 14 years after the Norwegian independence from Sweden. In 1974 the 1-øre and 2-øre were not legal tenders anymore, and in 1984 the 5-øre expired as well. 25-øre and 10-øre went out of production in 1982 and 1991, though 50-øre is still in use. The current 50-øre is a 3,6 g cupper coin (97% Cu, 2,5% Zn, 0,5% Sn) which illustrates the royal Norwegian crown and a mythological portrait taken from an early medieval stave church in Urnes.
In 2009 the privately owned coin factory “Det Norske Myntverket” made 9,9 millions 50-øre coins for the Norwegian National Bank (“Norges bank”). In a letter of August 23, 2010 to the Ministry of Trade and Industry among others, the National Bank asks for comments on a hearing on evaluation of the need of 50-øre in Norwegian trade. The bank wants to stop buying 50-øre coins from Det Norske Myntverket, because they believe that these small copper coins are worth too little considering Norwegian prices. It is further stated that too many 50-øre coins are hoarded in private homes and is of no practical use. 50 øre is equal to 0,07 euro and 0,08 US dollars (September 2010). The bank’s closing date for submissions is October 15. 2010, and maybe the Norwegian government will follow Sweden which already abandoned the 50 öre on October 30. 2009.

By: Marius Ringsrud, fil.mag.