Bob Klein in Economists and Finance, Finance / Banking, Business Investment Advisor Sep 26, 2019 · 1 min read · +600

The Florin: Europe's First Continental Currency | Bob Klein of Medici Capital

The Florin: Europe's First Continental Currency | Bob Klein of Medici Capital

The Euro revolutionized commerce when it was introduced. Until the euro came around, Europe had been divided when it came to money for decades. Germany had the mark, France had the franc and Germany had the mark. Currency exchange made trade more difficult. In the 1990s, the eurozone was developed. By January of 1999, the euro was in effect. By 2002, official euros had been minted and printed.

The euro wasn't the first currency to unite the continent, though. First developed in 1252, the florin originated in Florence. It was made of gold, which was a game-changer for the time. For about 500 years before that, currency in Europe had been made from silver. The city of Florence was the leader in trade at the time. Minting their coins in gold lent even more prestige to the city.

Florins were worth more than silver coinage. They were often, however, used alongside it. Typically, silver coins were used for small transactions. Florins were used for big purchases. The florin was commonly seen throughout Italy and Europe. It was also used as far away as North Africa and the Middle East, especially for large purchases. By the 14th century, the florin was very widespread. Charles Robert, the King of Hungary and even the Holy Roman Emperor began to mint their own florins. The Holy Roman Empire referred to their coins as guilders.
The florin was dominant throughout Europe for several centuries. By about 1400, it had a competitor in the ducat, minted in Venice. By the time the 16th century rolled around, the florin was on the downswing. The last Florentine florin was minted in 1531. The florin name lived on in other currency systems for several centuries. The success of the coin was so great that it became a generic word for a midrange coin, generally made out of silver.

In 1849, a florin was introduced into the British currency system. It was an early foray into the world of decimalization. The florin was a two-shilling piece worth a tenth of a pound. The florin was also used in Australia, Ireland, Canada, and New Zealand. In the Netherlands, the generic florin (also called the gulden) lasted until the introduction of the euro in 2002. From its promising origins in Florence in the early Renaissance, the florin had a great, long run.

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