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Andrei Tretyakov, inscriptor, creounity

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2009.

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Georgia (the first third of the XIX-th century)

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  • Chronological system info
  • Images of coins

Historical overview

The chronological system described on this page was in use in Georgia from September 1804 to February 1834 thats how long the Tbilisi Mint was in operation.

All the inscriptions (a.k.a. the legend) on the Georgian coins of that time use the Georgian language in a typeface called Mkhodruli (or Mkhedruli), also known as the script of the warriors. See below: the present-day Georgian character set. Apparently, the shape of the symbols havent altered much since then.

ა ბ გ დ ე ვ ზ თ ი კ ლ მ ნ ო პ ჟ რ ს ტ უ
ფ ქ ღ ყ შ ჟ ც ძ წ ჭ ხ ჯ ჰ ჱ ჲ ჟ ჴ ჵ ჶ

Now take a look at the convertor. You can see that the letters of the alphabet have their own numerical meaning. Scientists call this an alphanumeric alphabet. Almost the same approach to the encoding of the year had been used in Russia in the tsarist epoch and particularly during the government of Peter the Great.

It is of great importance to provide here some details of Georgian history and Georgian monetary circulation in the first third of the XIX-th century.

Initially there was no united Georgian state. A large number of tiny princedoms existed, and all of them had to defend their right to life in the continuous struggle against the Turks and Persians. This was ongoing until the end of the XVIII-th century. Finally, in 1783 Georgian tsar Irakli the Second addressed his concerns to the Russian empress Catherine II. He requested the Georgian states become a protectorate of the Russian Empire. This resulted in Russia guaranteeing Georgia's autonomy and protection in case of a foreign attack. In 1798 George XII the son of Irakli II, acceded to the throne and asked Russian emperor Paul the First to take control of Georgia in the interests of preserving Georgian integrity. In 1810 all Georgian princedoms finally acknowledged the supreme authority of the Russian Empire. As a result of this, Russia came into conflict with the Persian Empire, since Persia had for centuries been exerting economic and socio-political influence on Georgia. While struggling with Persia, the Russian government was constantly emphasizing that Russia had absolutely no need and no benefit from further expansion of its south-western borders.

As Russia and Georgia were entering into closer relations, market ties between the two states were growing stronger, the exchange of goods was also growing rapidly. Thus, it was quite natural that the Russian government started pondering the inclusion of Georgia into the united monetary system of the Russian Empire. So as not to break off the market canons right away, it was decided to assume as a basis of the new system a new coin which would suit the Georgians, in respect of both appearance and name. Although the Russian means of payment were put into practice, a huge variety of Persian and Turkish coins had been in circulation for a while. A lot of them were in the hands of the Georgians at that time.

The Georgian monetary system had emerged in the XVII-th century under the influence of the monetary account of Persia. Correlations between these coins are as follows:

Table 1. Nominal values of the Georgian monetary system in the XVIIXVIII-th centuries.

The number of Iranian dinars
   (accounting units)
Name of equivalent
   Georgian currency
Other variants of
   coins name
5 kazbegi pul, or puli
20 bisti
50 shakhi shaur
100 makhmudi uzaltoon
200 abaz abazi

The silver abazi was the monetary unit of Georgia. The Persian abazi coin was named after Abbas I (15711629), the shah of Persia (Iran). As mentioned above, the abazi and other denominations of that monetary system had been in circulation in Georgia (mainly in Eastern Georgia) during the period of its dependence on Persia.

The practical implementation of the new coins for Georgia in the framework of the Russian monetary system started in the very beginning of the XIX-th century. At that time Alexander the First acceded the Russian imperial throne. The draft of the new coins for Georgia were submitted to him for approval, and this is how the coin appeared: the obverse side represented the so-called city crown (a part of the brick fortress wall with merlons). Below the crown there was an inscription iflis in the Russian language (iflis was the previous name for Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia). Right below that inscription one can see crossed palm and olive branches. The reverse side of the coin included the inscription: Georgian coin in the Russian language, as well as the date 1802. Alexander I asked for all Russian inscriptions to be replaced by Georgian ones, so that the coin would contain nothing Russian. This order of the Emperor was taken into account, and the final coin design approved for minting included Georgian inscriptions only. The approved type of the new Georgian coin looked as follows:

The obverse side was the same for both silver and copper Georgian coins; there was the city crown, the word Tbilisi (ტფილისი) and crossed olive and palm branches.

On the top of the reverse side there was a Georgian alphanumeric symbol standing for the coins value, the second and the third rows say in Georgian: Georgian silver on silver coins and Georgian coin on copper coins. Below those inscriptions there was a minting date written in Georgian alphanumeric characters. This was a Gregorian calendar date, not the Lunar Hejira which was used during the Persian ascendancy.

As specified at the top of this article, the coinage was minted in Tbilisi. The coin dies, however, were engraved in St. Petersburg. We even know the names of those engravers; their initials can be found on silver abazi coins below the line under the date inscription.

Table 2. Transcript of the names of Russian engravers who worked on Georgian coins.

Initials Engravers names transcript Years of service
.. Petr Zaytsev 18041806
.. Alexander Triphonov 18101822, 18261831
.. Alexei Karpinskiy 18061809, 18221824
.. Vasiliy Kleimyonov 18311833

The following coin denominations were issued: the silver two abazi (40 kopecks), the abazi itself (20 kopecks), the half-abazi or uzaltoonie (10 kopecks); as well as copper coins: the bisti (2 kopecks), the half-bisti (1 kopeck) and the puli (½ kopeck).

Table 3. Detailed description of the denominations of Georgian coins.

In less than thirty years the Tbilisi Mint issued: in rouble terms, silver coins equivalent to more than 1,000,000 roubles, and copper coins equivalent to more than 8,000 roubles. The coins issued through this period weren't withdrawn from use. They were in circulation in the Caucasus until 1853.

The system of coin denominations in present day Georgia

To understand the system of coin denominations in Georgia in the above period of history please inspect the content of Table 3.

The currency of modern Georgia is the lari, which is divided into 100 tetri. Nowadays, coins are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 tetri, as well as 1, 2 and 10 lari. Both lari and tetri are still in use.


Jump to the picture #
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1804
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): bisti
Minting year: 1805
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): half-bisti
Minting year: 1806
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1807
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): abazi
Minting year: 1808
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1809
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): bisti
Minting year: 1810
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1812
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1813
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1814
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1815
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1816
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): abazi
Minting year: 1818
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1819
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1820
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): abazi
Minting year: 1821
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): half-abazi
Minting year: 1822
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1823
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): half-abazi
Minting year: 1824
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1824
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1826
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1827
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1828
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1829
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1830
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1831
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1832
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1833
Country: Georgia (country in the Caucasus)
Denomination (value): double abazi
Minting year: 1804
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