“Money in Montenegro”
The Money Museum of the Central Bank of Montenegro (CBCG)’s permanent exhibition “Money in Montenegro” is unique in our region. The exhibition contains valuable and rare specimens of denominations of different values, from antique to the present.
The permanent exhibition “Money in Montenegro” begins with a story about the pre-money period and the first payment method - exchange of goods, or barter, the creation of the first cities and the appearance of the first known money, electrum. Electrum was money minted in the 12th century BC, in the ancient state of Lydia, located on the shores of Asia Minor.
The story of the money that circulated on today’s territory of Montenegro begins with the ancient coins of Greece, Rome and the Illyrian Kingdom. Exhibited coins from the Classical Era include a stater of Alexander the Great, the famous conqueror from the 4th century BC, the Roman Empire’s copper coins and the coins of the last Illyrian king Gentius. When the mighty Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD, the Eastern Roman Empire - Byzantium was established on the banks of the Bosphorus, spreading its influence to our region. Besides cultural and religious influences, Byzantium had a monetary impact on Montenegro. There are examples of the Empire’s copper coins and the golden solidus of the famous Vasileus - Emperors Justinian II, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, and Nicifor Phocas.
The Slavs used Byzantium’s slow weakening to create their own states in the Balkans. Consolidating their power, the Slavic rulers began minting their own money. The exhibition “Money in Montenegro” contains silver and copper coins from the Nemanjić and Balšić dynasties and the money of the Bosnian king Tvrtko Kotromanić.
The money of the Venetian Republic began circulating in this area in the 15th century. The period when the city of Kotor became a part of this republic and received the right to mint city money was very significant. For the next 200 years, the Kotor Mint made money depicting the city’s patron saint St. Tryphon on one side and St. Mark, the symbol of the Venetian Republic, on the other. Many copper, silver and gold coins of the Venetian Republic are exhibited in the Money Museum.
The history of Slavic coins ended when these states’ fell under Ottoman rule. From the 15th to the first decade of the 20th centuries, Ottoman money circulated in our area. The Ottoman Empire’ money, from copper mangirs to golden akchas, represents a valuable collection of the Money Museum. The proximity of the Austrian Empire, and the Russian Empire’s assistance to Montenegro, led to the circulation of money from these countries. The Austrian fiorini, the Russian ruble, the Austro-Hungarian kruna, French and Belgian francs, and the Italian lira are also part of the Museum’s exhibition.
The history of Montenegrin money begins with a story almost 60 years older than the minting of the first perper - the story of the golden perun, the never minted coin of Petar II Petrović Njegoš. Namely, in 1851, Njegoš was preparing to mint the first Montenegrin coin. However, his untimely death interrupted that intention. The perun wax imprint was found and later preserved. Commemorating the 150 years of the Mountain Wreath in Vienna, the perun was minted as a Jubilee Coin. A specimen is exhibited in the Money Museum.
Although it became an internationally recognised state at the 1878 Berlin Congress, Montenegro had to wait for more than half a century after Njegoš’s death for its own currency.
The minting of the first Montenegrin money began in Vienna in 1906. The permanent exhibition of the Money Museum exhibits all specimens from all periods of Montenegrin money - from the first coins from 1906, through silver perpers with the image of Prince Nikola on the obverse and the Montenegrin coat of arms on porphyry on the reverse, to gold coins in three denominations from the principality and kingdom. The museum exhibition also shows rare test mint plates of paras from 1915, produced during the First World War.
Visitors can also see paper bonds from the Balkan Wars period and the First World War, which served as an internal loan from our people to the state in difficult times. They were printed in Prague, Cetinje and Paris.
The history of the money of the Principality and the Kingdom of Montenegro ended with the Austro-Hungarian occupation when Montenegrin referrals were stamped with occupation stamps. In 1917, the occupiers even made their own perper, known as Austro-Hungarian or Albanian, because it had writing in Montenegrin, German and Albanian. In that way, Montenegrin citizens would receive the worthless paper, the aforementioned perper, in exchange for their silver or gold money. This perper is also exhibited in the Museum’s permanent exhibition.
The second part of the exhibition exhibits the money of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and dinars from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The permanent exhibition of the CBCG Money Museum also contains money used on Montenegro’s territory during the Italian occupation in the Second World War (1941-1943) with specimens of stamped dinars, then lira, and Albanian leks and francs. The reoccupation by Germany (1943-1945) on Montenegro’s territory introduced the German Reichkassen mark as the legal tender, the Independent State of Croatia’s kuna and the Serbian dinars under German occupation. The denominations of this money, used in some parts of today’s Montenegro, are also exhibited in the Money Museum’s permanent exhibition.
The liberation period is shown through the exhibited social dinars issued by Federal Montenegro in Federal Yugoslavia. The money was used for only a few weeks. Due to delays in delivering official money ordered from the USSR, the authorities were forced to provide money until the ordered money arrived in Montenegro. The social dinars were withdrawn from circulation after the money printed in the USSR was delivered.
The exhibition continues with an exhibition of dinars from the Democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The motifs on these banknotes depict work, the state’s renewal, partisans, and symbolise socialism.
The banknotes with the images of Arif Heralić and Alija Sirotanović are especially attractive. They were workers whose characters on the banknotes were a reward for their dedicated work. The prominent exhibited banknotes from this period include those with the first depiction of an intellectual on a Yugoslav banknote - Nikola Tesla, and Josip Broz Tito, the lifelong President of Yugoslavia.
The permanent exhibition also shows money guiding us to socialist Yugoslavia’s collapse through rising inflation from 1986. On the 1992 money, there is the National Bank of Yugoslavia coat of arms instead of the SFRY coat of arms. The SFRY ceased to exist, and Montenegro and Serbia formed a community called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the sanctions period, one of the highest rates of inflation in recent history prevailed. Multiple zeros appeared on the banknotes that came out in series. Yugoslavia had the highest denomination on the banknote during the inflation period - 11 zeros on the 500,000,000,000 dinars banknote. Hyperinflation was stopped by printing a new dinar of 1994, exhibited in the Money Museum’s permanent exhibition.
The exhibition ends with the collections of the German Mark that replaced the Dinar in Montenegro in 2000 and the collection of Montenegro’s legal tender - the Euro.
Part of the permanent exhibition “Money in Montenegro” is a valuable collection of jubilee coins minted in Yugoslavia and money and perpers issued by the CBCG on the occasion of Montenegrin anniversaries.
The coin minting machine from 1849 stands out among the “Money in Montenegro” exhibition exhibits. Among other things, the first Montenegrin coin - perper was minted on this machine. The machine was received as a gift from the Vienna Mint in 2006, celebrating 100 years of minting the first Montenegrin coin. It is completely repaired and functional. Today, the Money Museum makes a souvenir on it - a replica perper.