Goznak's history1 июля 2018 года

Goznak's history

Dear friends,
Goznak is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2018. We will describe the most interesting samples of paper money, security papers, coins, stamps and medals produced at the Expedition of Storing State Papers and Goznak at various times. They all illustrate the history of our company, which in its turn goes hand in hand with the history of Russia.

The money two centuries ago

The first paper money in Russia appeared during the reign of Catherine II, in 1769. It was called “assignations” and exchanged for copper coins. Assignations had a plain design and therefore were counterfeited quite often. During the Patriotic war of 1812, the French flooded the country with false assignations buying food and fodder with them. It is interesting that the French “product” was of much higher quality than the Russian banknotes. That fact predetermined the necessity of founding a new institution where all banknote production stages would be carried out (beforehand, paper used to be made at the paper mill in Tsarskoye Selo, and printing – at the Senate printing works in Saint Petersburg).

As a result, the Expedition of Storing State Papers – a special factory designed for the production of assignations and other special (or as we would say today, security) paper – was founded in Saint Petersburg in 1818. It was equipped at a state-of-the-art level of the time. The modern Goznak counts its history since the date of its foundation. Assignations became the most important product of the new factory at once.

Here is one of the first assignations produced at the Expedition – 25 roubles of the model of 1818. Such assignations were designed much better than the previous ones and were printed on stronger paper. However, they were quite expensive, and therefore only a few of them have survived till now. Anybody who brought such an assignation to the Assignation Bank, could receive 25 roubles in copper coins. The sum weighed more than a pood (16 kilograms) at the time! The assignation was printed on white paper with a watermark in the shape of inscriptions of the face value, the name and the year of issue. There were two signatures on it – of the Manager of the Expedition Duke A.N. Khovanskiy and the cashier. The assignation had a unique number put at the same time with the cashier’s signature, thus providing a formal “permission” for putting the banknote into circulation.

Here we would like to remind that at the beginning of the 19th century in Russia, there were actually two currencies in Russia – rouble in assignations and rouble in silver. The rate of the assignation rouble teetered between 20 and 40 kopecks in silver. Calculations in all official documents were carried out in assignations. They became deeply embedded into the Russian classic literature. During those years, it became a habit to call them by their color – “blue”, “red”, “grey” etc. The 25-rouble banknote received the name “white”.

These assignations remained in circulation for over twenty years – only in 1839 a currency reform was carried out, and the assignations were gradually replaced with new currency units – the state credit notes also produced at the Expedition of Storing State Papers.

Andrey Bogdanov,
The Exhibition Complex of Goznak

Translated by Tatiana Ugryumova
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