Supplementary Appendix: Currencies and Their Abbreviations

Currencies and Their Abbreviations

The question of currencies and equivalents in the late-eighteenth, early-nineteenth century German territories can be complicated given the often confusing territorial political divisions: [1]

The enduring political fragmentation of territorial sovereignty into 314 independent territories and over 1,400 Imperial Knights even at the end of the eighteenth century — of which only 39 individual states, including free Imperial States, remained after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 — constituted a natural drag on both trade and general traffic circulation; differing currencies and a myriad of tolls similarly contributed to these impediments.

Roger Paulin offers a useful excursus on currency and financial considerations in the life of Wilhelm Schlegel, especially concerning individual currency units and their equivalencies: [2]

The standard currency in the German lands was the taler, a silver coin, also the coinage in which he was mainly paid. There were 24 groschen to one taler. Publishers also used the gold Friedrichsd’or, worth 5 talers, or the Louisd’or, also worth 5 talers. Other coins in use were the ducat (Dukaten), worth 31/2 talers, or the Carolin, worth 6 talers. In the southern territories and in Austria, the standard currency was the florin or Gulden, worth one half of a taler; there were 60 Kreutzer to one Gulden.

Abbreviations for the ubiquitous unit of the Thaler include: [3]

Thlr, thlr

Abbreviations for the Reichsthaler (Imperial Thaler), a unit appearing with particular frequency in the present edition, include:

R., r., Rh, rh, Rth, rth

The particular rendering can also depend on how one transcribes the various abbreviation “tails” often used at the ends of words to indicate omitted letters or endings, though such is of perhaps less importance for the general reader. [4]

Here some general renderings for reference:

gr. or Gr. : Groschen; silver coin; 1/24 Reichsthaler
℔: German pound
Car.: Carolin; French gold coin = 11 Gulden = 5.5 Reichsthaler
f., fl., Fl., Flor.: Florin; French designation for Gulden
Fr. d’or: Friedrichs d’or; Prussian gold coin = 5 Reichsthaler
Laubthaler: French silver coin with laurel branches
Ldr.: Louis d’or; French gold coin
Konventionsthaler: attempted to free German and Habsburg territories from foreign currency during the second half of the eighteenth century, though was unevenly valued

In any event, abbreviations are generally maintained in the present edition for much the same reason as are German titles, namely, for the sake of maintaining a bit more of the specifically German flavor of these materials and, in the case of personal correspondence, of their informal nature. [5]


[1] Deutsche Literatur. Eine Sozialgeschichte, 5 Zwischen Revolution und Restauration: Klassik, Romantik 1786–1815, ed. Horst Albert Glaser (Reinbeck bei Hamburg 1980), 15–16 Back.

[2] The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel, Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry (Open Book Publishers 2016), 8–10, here 8. Back.

[3] Therese Huber Briefe, vol 1: 1774–1803, ed. Magdalene Heuser (Tübingen 1999), 439. See ibid., 463: “Taler: German silver coin that was of varying value depending on the period and region; in the mid-eighteenth century, 1 Taler = 24 Good Groschen.” Back.

[4] Roger P. Minert, Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents. Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Vital Records Written in Germany (Provo 2010), 28–29. Back.

[5] Concerning the purchasing value of these currencies in daily life, see Roger Paulin’s excursus cited above as well as, in English, W. H. Bruford, Germany in the Eighteenth Century: The Social Background of the Literary Revival (Cambridge 1935), 329–32, who discusses coinage, typical commodity prices, wages and salaries, living expenses (albeit in British equivalents from 1935), and weights and measures. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott