Counterfeits of the banknotes of the Kingdom of Serbia

The first counterfeit of the banknote of the Kingdom of Serbia appeared in 1891, or exactly six years after the ten dinar banknote in silver was put in circulation. Six years later a new counterfeit of this banknote appeared, but this time was much more dangerous. It was made in Gomos (Austro-Hungary) and an attempt of passing it was discovered in Sabac. Austro-Hungarian authorities arrested the forgers quickly, confiscated the whole material and brought the participants into court. The second two attempts of counterfeiting were discovered by the help of informers even before the forgers succeeded in making the banknotes. Both attempts were tried abroad, one in 1899 in Sophia, and the second in 1921 in Temishvar. It is interesting that both attempts were discovered during the purchasing the lithography stone. One of the most perfect counterfeits of the ten dinar banknote in silver before the war was discovered in the village of Kicevci near Kragujevac. It was so well made in all details that it differed from the real banknote very little. Apart from color and paper, water seal was also well made. Thanks to the noticeable behavior, so that they managed to pass only 114 pieces. The forgers were persecuted by the Belgrade district court. If the quantity of spread banknotes was taken for criterion, then the largest in the Kingdom of Serbia before the war was the so-called Nis counterfeit, which was discovered in 1906. Although the counterfeits could be easily noticed because of its technical faults, the forgers, thanks to carelessness of the villagers, managed to pass a greater quantity in Nis district, and some of it in Bulgaria and Romania. This counterfeit was also related to a ten dinar banknote in silver, which was in usage before the war. Other banknotes, especially those in gold, were more seldom in use. They were paid more attention to so that they were not interesting to the forgers, and the only exception was a hundred dinar banknote in silver from 1915 which was counterfeited a few times.
One more attempt was made during the war and it can be considered as a unique one by its details. The attempt was with the banknotes withdrawn from use, that were already perforated and prepared for burning but because of the sudden evacuation of the National Bank from Belgrade, they remained in the bank vault. The occupation authorities forced the enemy into the bank vault and spread the perforated banknotes in considerable number. They were used by the enemy for agitation, as evidence that the Serbian money lost every value. When the National Bank returned to Belgrade it was found out that a few individuals tried more than once to pass the banknotes that were glued on the perforated places.


Medieval Serbian coins – period of feudal lords

Smaller coins, usually bearing Latin inscriptions, were minted in abudance during the rule of Prince Lazar and Despot Stefan Lazarević. At the time of Vuk Branković (1375-1396) new types of dinars were issued, much lighter than the above-mentioned stable dinar of this period. Various versions of this type of coin today weigh from 0.69-0.63 g. One of them, probably the first dinar of this new weight, bears the inscription „VLKOV DINAR“. Of a similar reduced weight is a coin from Novo Brdo issued by Prince Lazar and another type of coin during the period of feudal lord Đurđe Branković, its average present day weight ranging from 0.85-0.80 g. Dating from the time of Despot Đurđe Branković are coins of the same weight (present day average weight 1.08-0.98 g)as normal Serbian dinars circulating from the time of Emperor Uroš until Despot Đurđe, but with visible differences in size and thickness. While the above-mentioned stable Serbian dinar was 20-17 mm in diameter and thin, this new coin had a smaller diameter, 15-12 mm, and was thick. Since the features of this small thick coin corresponded completely with the contemporary Turkish aspra, akča, and since at the time of Despot Đurđemany accounts were reckoned in aspras, which were worth 20 percent more than dinars (a ducat was worth 35 aspras, or 42 dinars) it can be assumed that the aspras mentioned in documents refer to the above-mentioned coin issued by Despot Đurđe Branković. Aspras were smaller, thicker coins issued by Đurđe Branković weighing slightly over one gram, while the dinars then in circulation of a lesser value had an average weight of 0.85-0.80 g.
A receipt issued to Despot Đurđe Branković for treasure deposited in Dubrovnik lists among his gold and silver as silver coins only a million aspras. Since Despot Đurđe Branković minted a lot of coins, the money deposited clearly consisted of Serbian aspras, and not the Turkish money used in Serbia as formerly believed, since in that case it would have been listed only as part of the money deposited as was the case with Turkish gold coins in the gold deposit, which contained mostly Venetian and Hungarian gold coins. On the basis of the total weight quoted for the above-mentioned million aspras, one arrives at the current average weight of 1,08 to 0,98 g, if one adds six percent for wear.
During the rule of despots Stefan Lazarević and Đurđe Branković the smallest Serbian coin was minted, smallest in terms of circumference and weight, its original name unknown, today sometimes referred to as an obolus, but more appropriatey designated by the folk term maljušnik. It should be mentioned that the towns of Smederevo and Rudnik minted aspras, while Smederevo and Rudišta produced the maljušnik. Known examples of the maljušnik have an average weight of 0,26g, i.e. one fourth of the weight of the last stable Serbian dinar, that is, Serbian aspra.
Following the death of Emperor Dušan there is little point in classifying the types of coins owing to the large number of different types (stable or transitional), of persons and cities that minted coins, as well as the frequent lack of established local authorities responsible for the stability of issue, etc. Therefore, during this period coins were rarely and only exceptionally given names. A document dated 1367 mentions that Nikola Altomanović was paid 750 perperi in Rudnik dinars (9000 dinars), which may have referred to his own minted coinage.
The situation as regards coins was clearer on the coast where large amounts of stable types of coins were in circulation. Kotor dinars are mentioned in the second half of the 14th century, the late 14th and first half of the 15th centuries „grossi Balse“. Dinars minted by Balša III, which are considered the last stable type of Serbian dinar, today have an average weight of 1,05 g.
Of special interest are Serbian countermarked silver coins. Countermarks, that is, subsequently affixed marks, appear mostly on dinars minted by Emperor Dušan, generally on examples with Latin inscriptions. They are also found on dinars minted by the Bosnian ruler, Stjepan II Kotromanić (1314-1353). Analysis of the material indicates that countermarks, which exist in three forms, were affixed to damaged coins, coins that were worn down or nicked, but still kept in circulation. A number of circumstances indicate that these countermarks were affixed in western Serbian regions, probably in Zahumlje, during a period of a shortage of coins in Dubrovnik and its hinterland, as a result of the plague (1348), the re-establishment of Bosnian rule in Zahumlje (1350), or a change of rulers in Bosnia (1353).