The basic unit of Russian currency.
The term ruble (rubl' ) emerged in thirteenth-century Novgorod, where it referred to half of a grivna. The term derives from the verb rubit (to cut), since the original rubles were silver bars notched at intervals to facilitate cutting. The ruble was initially a measure of both value and weight, but not a minted currency. Under the monetary reform of 1534, the ruble was defined as equal to 100 kopecks or 200 dengi. Other subdivisions of the ruble were the altyn (3 kopecks), the grivennik (10 kopecks), the polupoltina (25 kopecks), and the
poltina (50 kopecks). A highly inflationary copper ruble circulated during Alexei Mikhailovich's currency reform (1654–1663), the first instance of minted ruble coins.
In 1704 the government began the regular minting of silver rubles, defined initially as equal to 28 grams of silver but declining steadily to 18 grams by the 1760s. Gold coins were minted in 1756 and 1779, copper rubles in 1770 and 1771. From 1769 to 1849, irredeemable paper promissory notes called assignatsii (sing. assignatsiya ) circulated alongside the metal currency.
Nicholas I reestablished the silver ruble as the basic unit of account. In 1843 he introduced a new paper ruble that remained convertible only until 1853. In 1885 and 1886, the silver ruble, linked to the French franc, was reinstated as the official currency. Sergei Witte's reforms in 1897 introduced a gold ruble, and Russia remained on the gold standard until 1914. Fully convertible paper currency circulated at the same time. A worthless paper ruble (kerenka) was used at the close of World War I.
The first Soviet ruble—a paper currency—was issued in 1919, and the first Soviet silver ruble appeared in 1921. Ruble banknotes were introduced in 1934. A 1937 reform set the value of the ruble in relation to the U.S. dollar, a practice that ended in 1950 with the adoption of a gold standard. Monetary reforms were implemented in 1947, 1961, and 1997.
See also: altyn; denga; grivna; kopeck; monetary system, soviet
Spassky, Ivan Georgievich. (1968). The Russian Monetary System: A Historico-Numismatic Survey, tr Z. I. Gorishina and rev. L. S. Forrer. Amsterdam: J. Schulman.
Jarmo T. Kotilaine