The Sovznak Banknote

Lenin’s December 1917 economy decree, the first page of which is the preceding exhibit, refers to changes in currency.  Confiscation of all property would be the punishment for those found cheating the state and the people through dishonest trading between old currency and new.

On display here is one of the earliest Soviet banknotes, a tiny 4.8 x 4.2cm one-rouble sovznak of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, likely from 1919.  While peace with the Central Powers stopped Russia’s ruinous involvement in the First World War, the Civil War would see the rouble devalue catastrophically.  In the 1920s, the chervonets, a new currency linked to the gold standard, would be produced in an attempt to provide stability.

The sovznak features the famous hammer and sickle emblem surrounded by sheaves of wheat, with the call “Proletarians of all nations, unite!” (normally “Workers of the world, unite!” in English) beneath.

[1-rouble sovznak]  (1919?)  From CCD.54.334