‘Wow, there was a Dutch currency before euro?’ some of you might ask yourselves reading the headline. In the world of the EU, where European countries are more and more interconnected, it’s easy to forget that each of them had its own separate currency in the past.
The currencies of the eurozone are now obsolete and, quite often, not exchangeable anymore. Unfortunately, this leaves many owners of these coins and banknotes in quite a pickle. They spent money on them in the past, whether for travels or in hopes of exploiting the changing prices – now there’s hardly anything they can do with it. ‘Hardly anything’, however, implies that there are still some options! This is exactly what we’re going to focus on in this article, with reference to the Dutch Guilder!
We will talk about the rich and long history of this old Dutch currency and then on the ways you can still make some money with it.
History of the Dutch Guilder
The beginnings of the Dutch Guilder can be traced several hundred years back. In the 14th century, the florin – Florence’s own currency, became widespread in the Northern Europe. People started referring to it as the guilder, which originated from gulden florijn – a golden florin. Interestingly enough, the abbreviation for the coin has initially been HFL – hollandse florijn, or Dutch florin.
The first historical evidence of guilder’s existence can be found in 1517, as the Carolusgulden, the first internationally recognized Dutch currency. Guilders were initially a 10.61 gram coin with a silver fineness of 0.910. They were minted in provinces of West Friesland and Holland, later to be adopted by other administrative parts of the country, replacing their own silver currencies – daalder, florijn, rijksdaalder, silver ducat and the silver rider ducaton.
Between 1810 and 1814, during the Napoleonic Wars, the Netherlands found itself under occupation from the French, who adopted a frank as the official currency. Guilder has been reintroduced as the official means of payment in 1817. The major difference, as compared to the pre-occupation coin was its decimalization. From now on, one guilder was equal to 100 cents, as opposed to the past, when it could have been divided into 20 stuivers, each of whom was 8 duiten. This is the beginning of the Dutch Guilder as known until 2002, when it has been replaced by the euro.
The guilder was a bimetallic coin. That means, the value of a coin was expressed by two metals – gold and silver, as opposed to only using either one of those. The bimetallic standard was implemented in several European countries in the 19th century as a way to increase the amount of money in circulation and to stabilize currencies. One guilder had 605.61 mg of gold or 9.615 g of silver, later changed to 9.45 g. The gold standard would be changed in 1875 for 604.8 mg of gold, then suspended between 1914 and 1925, only to be abolished in 1936. During the Second World War, the occupying German forces changed the currency to the Reichsmark. However, the Dutch government in exile promised that the guilder will have been restored and, thus, the people of the Netherlands were not eager to exchange their money for the German equivalent. Moreover, the exiled government kept on minting guilders in USA, to distribute them when the war is over.
The rising prices of bullion and its increasing popularity as an investment or a means of storing wealth have caused the Dutch to start minting nickel guilders from 1967 until 2002, when the currency has been replaced by the euro.
What can you do with your Dutch guilders
Dutch guilders have been obsolete for almost two decades now. There are, however, still ways for you to make money with them:
Exchanging obsolete banknotes is a tricky business. Contrary to coins, they do not have any value by themselves – at the end of the day, they’re just pieces of paper with a fancy print! Luckily, when it comes to the guilders, the process is clear, thanks to De Nederlandse Bank – the DNB, Dutch central bank.
Submitting your guilders for exchange is simple. You need to download, print and fill out an application form and then either hand it in the bank’s office or send it via mail along with your banknotes. The rate is around 45 euro cents per one guilder.
Keep in mind that not all guilder banknotes are exchangeable. You can check the list of all the notes that can be sent to the DNB here. What is more, some of the banknotes, such as the 50 guilder ‘sunflower’ one, can only be exchanged until 2032. Finally, paper money that has been received as ‘payment for professional or business activities or accepted as payment for goods supplied or services delivered after 22 January 2002’ (the exact date when guilder ceased to be the currency of the Netherlands) cannot be exchanged.
Despite these limitations, the Dutch central bank’s policy on exchanging old guilder banknotes is good news for US, as well as other non-European, or even non-Dutch owners of this money. Plenty of other obsolete currencies can only be exchanged directly in the central bank’s office. For you, it means taking an entire, often costly trip just to hand in an envelope. This is only worth it if you own a significant amount of the notes. Otherwise, the costs would far outweigh the return. That’s of course unless you’re already in Europe, taking a trip and decided to pop in to Amsterdam for some sight-seeing and a visit to the DNB!
Unfortunately, while the DNB makes it easy to exchange guilder banknotes, it has quite the opposite attitude towards the coins. Namely, it doesn’t provide such service at all. Don’t despair, though – there are still opportunities for you to make money off your Dutch guilders!
Your best shot is looking out for pre-1967 coins. These are the ones that were still made with either gold or silver and can be sold as bullion.
Many of the Dutch gold and silver guilders might be worth more than their precious metal content. Given the incredible longevity of the currency as well as plenty of variations in each denomination over the years, there are many rare pieces out there right now, that could earn you really good money as collectibles. If you own any guilder coins, make sure to do your research and find out your piece’s true value! Otherwise, you’re risking losing a huge chunk of what you could make.