Translating Old Banknotes


I recently decided to translate all the text on some old German and Russian banknotes. I started with a Russian 1909 25 Rubles, translating the text on the front.

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Государственный Банкь размъниваеть кредитные билеты на золотую монету безь ограничения сумы (1 рубль=1/15 империала, содержить 17, 424 долей чстаго золота).

State bank to exchange bank notes for gold without limitations (1 Ruble =1/15 Imperial, containing 17.424 shares of pure gold).

Fortunately, I study Russian, and transcribed it easily. Translating took much longer, however, as google translate could not handle the old Russian, which differed in spelling and subtle meaning. For example, кредитные билеты was translated as credit card, which is technically correct but translated as banknote in this context.

Untitled picture Interestingly, the conversion rate on the note remained the same for years

On the reverse of the note were three further sentences to translate.

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1.Размънь госъларственныхъ кредитных бнлетовъ на золоую монете обезпечивается

Exchange of government banknotes for gold is secured.

2.Государственные кредитные билеты имъють хождение во всей империи наравнъ съ золотою монетою.

Government banknotes are circulated throughout the empire equal with a gold coin.

3.Zа поддълку кредитных билетовь виновные подвергаются лимению всъхь правъ состояния и ссылкъ въ каторжную работу.

For fake bank notes, the perpetrators are stripped of their rights of state (citizenship) and subject to hard labour.

Pre-war German banknotes also appeared to bear the same text, so I translated a 1910 1000 Marks note.

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Zahlt die Reichsbankhauptkasse in Berlin ohne Legitimationsprüfung dem Einliesere zahlt die dieser Banknote.

The Reichsbank principal fund in Berlin pays without personal identification to whomever pays this banknote.

thumbnail FD74806E-466E-4C39-81DD-5C758A6585EF This text only measured 2cmx0.5cm

Wer Banknoten nachmacht oder verfälscht, oder nachgemachte oder verfälscht sich verschaffe und in Verkehr bringt, wird mit Zuchthaus nicht unter zwei Jahren bestraft.

Anyone who imitates or falsifies banknotes or creates counterfeit or falsified goods and places them on the market, will be punished with a legal restraint of no less than two years.

While the German was easier to translate, the minute size and Gothic font on part of the note meant it took the longest to read and transcribe. Hopefully this can help you avoid a long translation process. If you have any Russian that you find yourself unable to read, feel free to send me an email.

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