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Russian Paper Money

Assignation rubles, the first Russian paper money, were unusual because they were considered a separate currency from coinage rubles. The two rubles were traded against each other, with the assignation ruble generally losing value over time against the coinage ruble. Assignation rubles were originally issued by Catherine the Great in response to a governmental shortage of silver caused by Russia's war efforts. This paper currency was discontinued in 1843, replaced by more typical government-issued bank notes.

These new ruble notes continued until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, although the provisional government released treasury notes in 20- and 40-ruble denominations. These provisional notes are referred to as Kerensky rubles after Minister-Chairman Alexander Kerensky. Provisional notes only lasted for two years, at which point they were replaced by Soviet-issued notes.

Early Soviet Russia produced paper money much more consistently than coins, with many early years featuring only notes and no coins minted. The first Soviet run consisted of 18 different denominations ranging from one ruble to 100,000 rubles. This was the first of seven unique Soviet-issued paper monies, as the bills were redesigned periodically. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ruble remained the currency of Russia. New rubles initially did not feature any prominent individuals on the notes, as such glorification of politicians made citizens uneasy. The current run features statues of historical Russians instead.

Quick Facts

  • Modern Russia is a prominent example of redenomination. In 1998, inflation was so high that the Russian government scaled its currency back by a factor of 100
  • Under Soviet Russia, foreign currency exchange rates were set by the Central Bank. This led to foreign-made imports costing amounts determined arbitrarily by the country of origin and how accessible the Central Bank felt that country's items should be
  • The Hermitage is a national museum in St. Petersburg which contains a tremendous art collection derived from the holdings of the Romanov czars, many of whom were coin collectors

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