Humanity has come a long way from the time of the exchange of goods and services – barter, through the first money, representing braids of gold, silver, tin and iron, whose appearance dates back to around 3000 BC. and is associated with Mesopotamia, through the first banknotes printed in Ancient China to modern means of payment including digital wallets and digital currencies.
Naturally, the weight of means of payment has decreased over the centuries, from heavy pieces of metal to digital money that actually takes up no space in your wallet and has no weight. And how much does the 1 BGN coin, which is widely used today, weigh? It is certainly much lighter than the first minted coins.
The history of money is long and interesting, observing a transition from coins to paper money, which is probably why the fact that the native 1 lev banknote was replaced this century by a coin surprises us. What is the need to replace paper money with coins in our country, are they a more convenient means of payment, how much does the 1 lev coin weigh, the weight of which we often complain about especially if we have a lot in our wallet, and what is the history of the Bulgarian lev let’s tell now.
History of the Bulgarian lev
In the first years after the Liberation of Bulgaria, mainly silver coins were in circulation in our country, unfortunately devalued. Many foreign currencies are also used, such as Iranian and Indian exotic coins, which have long been out of circulation even in the countries that issued them. This necessitates the appearance of the Bulgarian lev, whose name originates from leva – an obsolete form of the word “lion”, as the lion has been a symbol of our country since ancient times until today.
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The image of the lion is present not only on Bulgarian coins and banknotes, but also on cultural monuments, flags and even on the royal seal – as a symbol of the courage and invincibility of the Bulgarian warriors, as a vivid proof of the way they fight – “like lions” .
One lev, however, is not the first native banknote, as is widely believed and widely assumed. The 20-note with serial number #000001 is the first native banknote issued by the BNB in the first year in which the BNB started issuing banknotes – 1885. The original of this banknote is kept in the History Museum in Gabrovo. Among the oldest banknotes and the first in our country are those with a denomination of BGN 50.
A reason for pride is the little-known fact that in 2013 the Bulgarian Lev was designated by the Aesthetics Commission of the International Financial Bank in Switzerland as one of the five most beautiful currencies in the world, and the criteria against which the currencies were compared were historical significance, the personalities whose faces are on the banknotes, the vision and the aesthetics.
Banknotes with a denomination of 1 BGN
The first 1 BGN banknote was issued in 1916. Its size is 95×60 millimeters, the watermark is diamonds, and the face has the text ONE LEFT. This first 1 lev banknote was in circulation until May 5, 1924.
Since 1921, another 1 BGN banknote has been in circulation, issued in 1920, on which a sculpture of a seated woman, the coat of arms of Bulgaria and the BNB building are depicted. It was printed in England and was in circulation until the end of May 1925.
Since 1952, 1 Bulgarian lev with images of hammer and sickle and the state coat of arms, printed in the USSR, entered circulation. The banknote was used until the end of March 1962. Most likely, this is the 1 BGN banknote that you also remember from your childhood or youth. After it, since the beginning of 1962, a 1 lev banknote with an image of the monument on Mount Shipka, also printed in the USSR, has been in circulation, which banknote is certainly familiar to you as a vision, and you most likely had it in your wallet, because it is in circulation until the end of October 1996.
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The last 1 BGN banknote, before the paper leva was replaced by a coin, was the 112 × 60 mm red banknote printed in 1999, which has Saint Ivan of Rila on the front and the Rila Monastery on the back. This banknote was withdrawn from circulation at the very end of 2015 and replaced by a coin. However, is this convenient for citizens, considering how much the 1 BGN coin weighs and how difficult it is to find in the bag?
How much does the 1 BGN coin weigh?
The 1 BGN coin, which replaces the out-of-circulation banknote, has a size of 24.5 millimeters, a weight of 7 grams, an outer ring of copper-zinc-nickel and an inner ring of zinc-nickel. On the face of the coin are cut denomination, year and crossed lines, and on the back is the face of St. Ivan Rilski, as well as the inscriptions BULGARIA and ST. IVAN RILSKY. The first 1 BGN coin was produced and issued in 2002, with the artistic design by Petar Stoykov.
And although it looks light at only 7 grams, a few such coins in the wallet can cause it to break. However, we cannot guess what the replacement of the book lev with a coin entails.