Ask about money

Who invented money?
Nobody knows. But the first coin considered to be actual money was minted in the Kingdom of Lydia, now part of western Turkey, in about 650 BC. The first Lydian coins were of equal size and weight and produced from a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. They were furnished with an official stamp guaranteeing the electrum contents.


A Lydian coin

Where were the first banknotes printed?
The first banknotes, in a modern sense, were printed in Sweden in 1661. The banknotes generally considered to be the first in the world were issued by Stockholms Banco, founded by Johan Palmstruch. However, the idea of paper money comes from China, where paper money already was in use in the eighth and ninth centuries. But this Chinese paper money cannot be regarded as banknotes in a proper sense.


A banknote issued by Stockholms Banco

How much is my old banknote/coin worth?
The Bank of Finland Museum does not appraise the values of old banknotes for collecting purposes. Enquiries about the values of old notes and coins can be made to associations and businesses specialising in this field, eg the Finnish Numismatic Society ( or the Holmasto Auction House ( Please note that Holmasto’s telephone services are subject to charges.

How much is this banknote/coin worth in euro?
The Bank of Finland Museum has a money value converter that illustrates the purchasing power of the Finnish markka from 1860 onwards. You can use the converter to check for example how much a one hundred markka note of 1975 is worth in euro today. The money value converter is also available on the museum website. The converter values are indicative only.

Where does the word 'markka' come from?
In 1860, Finland was granted a monetary unit of its own. It was given the name markka, the oldest Finnish word for a monetary unit. The word dates back to the period of Swedish rule: Sweden once had a currency system based on accounting units called marks dating back to medieval times. Originally, the mark was the name of an old weight unit used in north Europe.

Where does word ‘euro’ come from?
According to the Council Regulation (EC) of 3 May 1998 on the introduction the euro, the European currency was given the name euro. The euro was to be divided into one hundred sub-units with the name ‘cent’. In the same context, the European Council declared that the name of the single currency must be the same in all official languages of the European Union.

Why are there no exact reproductions of old markka banknotes on the Bank of Finland Museum website? It would be a nice idea to make a collage of them as a wall hanging.
Exact banknote reproductions cannot be posted on the website, since the printouts may fulfil the criteria for counterfeiting. There are special rules on the use of banknote features for different purposes. See Use of euro and markka coin and banknote features in marketing (PDF)

Does the Bank of Finland store old markka banknotes and coins ‘to be on the safe side’?
Markka notes were withdrawn from circulation as a result of the changeover to euro cash. All markka notes handed over to the Bank of Finland have been destroyed, whereas the markka coins have been delivered to the Outokumpu Company to be recycled and used, for instance, for the manufacture of ship’s propellers.

Which historical persons have had their portraits on Finnish banknotes?
Portraits were introduced on Finnish banknotes in 1940. The first historical portrait appeared on the 5,000 markka note of 1940. This honour was bestowed on J.V. Snellman. The note was in circulation from 1940 to1955.

Other portraits on Finnish banknotes:
1,000 markkaa, J.K. Paasikivi, 1956 to 1962
5,000 markkaa, K.J. Ståhlberg, 1955 to 1962
10,000 markkaa, J.V. Snellman, 1955 to 1962
10 markkaa, J.K. Paasikivi, 1963 to 1986
50 markkaa, K.J. Ståhlberg, 1963 to 986
100 markkaa, J.V. Snellman, 1963 to 1986
500 markkaa, U.K. Kekkonen, 1975 to 1986
10 markkaa, Paavo Nurmi, 1987 to 1993
50 markkaa, Alvar Aalto, 1986 to 2001
100 markkaa, Jean Sibelius, 1986 to 2001
500 markkaa, Elias Lönnrot, 1987 to 2001
1000 markkaa, Anders Chydenius, 1986 to 2001
20 markkaa, Väinö Linna, 1993 to 2001

Where is the ‘money tree’ from, depicted on the 10, 20 and 50 markka coins of 1952 to1962 and the 10, 20 and 50 penni coins of 1963 to1990?
Over the course of time, efforts have been made to find the natural model for this old broad-crowned pine, but there is no evidence that it was modelled on an existing tree. P.U. Helle, the then-Director of the Mint of Finland, designed the tree himself and it carries features of the national romantic style.