Permanent exhibition „From Perper to Euro”

The exhibition of the Money Museum titled „From Perper to Euro” is unique in the region. It displays valuable and rare specimens of different denominations from various periods of Montenegro`s turbulent history. Visitors of the Money Museum have the opportunity to interactively learn about the history of money in Montenegro, with the special emphasis on the period from 1906 to date. 

The exhibition begins with a story dated nearly 60 years before the first perper was minted –a story of the gold Perun, the coin that Petar II Petrović Njegoš never minted. To wit, in 1851, Njegoš was preparing the minting of the first Montenegrin money, however, his efforts were interrupted by his early death. An imprint of Perun in red wax was later discovered and preserved. In 2009, the jubilee coin was minted based on the imprint to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the printing of Njegoš’s “Mountain Wreath” in Vienna and this coin is displayed in the Money Museum.

After the death of Petar II, Montenegro waited over half a century to get its own currency, even though it was internationally recognised as an independent state at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. The minting of the first Montenegrin money started in Vienna in 1906. Permanent exhibition of the Money Museum displays pieces of Montenegro`s money from all periods – from the first coins minted in 1906, over silver perpers with the image of the Prince Nikola on the obverse and Montenegro’s coat of arms enveloped in a cloak on the reverse, to gold coins in three denominations dating from both principality and kingdom periods. The Museum is in possession of extremely rare die trial pieces dating back from the war year 1915, which are kept in the Museum’s vault. 

Visitors also have the opportunity to see paper banknotes dating from the Balkan Wars and World War I, which served as an internal loan of the people to the state during difficult times. They were printed in Prague, Cetinje and Paris. 

The history of money of the principality and the kingdom of Montenegro ended with the Austro-Hungarian occupation, when Montenegro’s paper banknotes were marked with the stamp of the occupation authorities. In 1917, the occupier even issued its own Perper, known as the Austro-Hungarian or Albanian Perper, due to its inscriptions in German and Albanian languages. In this way, Montenegro’s citizens exchanged their silver or gold coins for worthless paper, the above mentioned Perper, which is also a part of the Museum’s permanent exhibition. 

The other part of the exhibition exhibits money from the period of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and dinars of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The permanent exhibition also displays money used in Montenegro during the Italian occupation in World War II (1941-1943), as well as specimens of Italian lira, Albanian Lek and Franga. The German Reichsmark, the Kuna of the Independent State of Croatia, and the Dinar from Serbia occupied by the Germans were all used as a legal means of payment after the German reoccupation of Montenegro (1943-1945). Specimens of this money, used in some parts of Montenegro’ territory, are also a part of the permanent exhibition.

The period after liberation was marked by the social dinars issued by the Republic of Montenegro within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This money was in circulation for a very short period of time. To wit, due to a delay in the delivery of the official currency ordered from the USSR, the authorities had to provide currency to be used until the ordered one arrives. Social dinars were withdrawn from circulation upon the delivery of the currency ordered from the USSR. The displayed dinars of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, and Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) show labour, the state’s restoration, and partisans, i.e. they symbolise socialism. Banknotes portraying Arif Heralić and Alija Sirotanović – workers whose images appeared on the banknotes as a reward for their hard work – are particularly attractive. Among the banknotes on display are those portraying Nikola Tesla – the first Yugoslav banknotes showing an intellectual, and those with the image of Josip Broz Tito, the lifetime president of Yugoslavia.

The permanent exhibition also displays the money which implied the breakdown of socialist Yugoslavia, through the inflation surge of 1986. Instead of the coat of arms of the SFRY, money from 1992 shows the emblem of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, because SFRY ceased to exist and Montenegro and Serbia formed a union named Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the sanctions this country experienced one of the highest inflations in recent history. Series of issued banknotes had enormous number of zeroes, with the highest denomination reaching eleven zeroes on a 500 000 000 000 dinars banknote. The exhibition also displays denominations of the new dinar, which instantly halted the inflation in the union. 

The exhibition ends with collections of the Deutsche Mark denominations, introduced in 2000 to replace the Dinar in Montenegro with a view to stopping inflation, and the collection of the official means of payment in Montenegro – the euro. 

Permanent exhibition also displays a valuable collection of jubilee money, paras and perpers issued by the CBCG on the occasion of the transfer of King Nikola I and Queen Milena remnants to Cetinje, to celebrate the first anniversary of the CBCG establishment (2002), and to celebrate the centenary jubilee of minting the first Montenegrin state coins (2006). The display shows jubilee money of the National Bank of Yugoslavia dated between 1968 and 1998, including gold and silver coin collections commemorating the printing of Oktoih, 150th anniversary of the printing of the Mountain Wreath, and coins honouring the Saint Basil of Ostrog. The exhibition also includes a valuable collection of jubilee money dating from the SFRY period, which is dedicated to the 9th Summit of Non-Aligned and 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.

The exhibition also includes a special showpiece – minting machine from 1849, used for minting the first Montenegrin money, perper. This machine was obtained from the Money mint in Vienna in 2006, and was completely repaired and made functional, so it is it possible to mint metal denominations for commercial purposes.