Paper money in Austria

The earliest paper money was issued before the foundation of the Austrian Empire. The Wiener Stadtbanco was founded in 1705. It was to help pay off the national debt. The Seven Years War against Prussia (1756-1763) called for high financial expenditure. As a result, the Wiener Stadtbanco issued 'banco slips' on the Minister of Finance's instructions. As the national debt continued to rise in the following decades, further issues followed in far too large quantities. The value of the notes sank continuously and many citizens lost large parts of their assets. Inflation reached its peak in 1811. Several attempts to stabilise the monetary system failed.

Stabilisation was only achieved with the foundation of the Privilegierte Österreichische Nationalbank in 1816. The bank, which was conceived as a joint stock company, had the sole monopoly on banknote issue in the Austrian Empire. The privilege of issuing notes was only temporarily interrupted by the state. The revolution of 1848/49 in Austria as well as the war against Sardinia in 1848 called for high financial resources. The Reichstag in Vienna therefore decided to issue state banknotes, the "Cassa-Anweisungen". However, the population distrusted these banknotes, so they hardly ever came into circulation. The state issued paper money again in 1866 to finance the costs of the war against Prussia and Italy. Another issue of state banknotes was carried out by the Hauptmünzamt in 1860 to remedy a shortage of small change.

During the so-called "Ausgleich" (Compromise) in 1867, the now independent states of Austria and Hungary were united by a shared monarch and a common Ministry of Finance, Foreign affairs and War. The common currency was kept and the Österreichische Nationalbank was transformed into the Österreichisch-ungarische Bank in 1878 with branches in Vienna and Budapest. From 1880 the bank issued its first series with one side in German and one side in Hungarian. However, the Czech, Italian and Polish areas of Austria-Hungary were not included. In protest, the population provided the banknotes with inscriptions in their respective national languages. It was not until the next series that the respective value was mentioned in the monarchy's eight other languages.

The Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed in November 1918. During the post-war period, the Österreichisch-ungarische Bank's banknotes continued to circulate, as it would not have been possible to replace them immediately. Monetary devaluation increased steadily and finally reached its peak in 1922. The Österreichische Nationalbank was founded to re-establish a stable currency. It began operating in 1923 and introduced a new currency, the schilling.

>> This collection is part of the holdings of "Paper money in Europe" of the Giesecke+Devrient Stiftung Geldscheinsammlung (Giesecke+Devrient foundation: collections of bank notes).