Pfennig
Overview
 
The Pfennig (ˈpfɛnɪç, abbreviation Pf, symbol ), plural Pfennige, is an old German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 coin or note, which existed from the 9th century until the introduction of the euro in 2002.

While a valuable coin during the Middle Ages, it lost its value through the years and was the minor coin of the Mark
Mark (money)
Mark was a measure of weight mainly for gold and silver, commonly used throughout western Europe and often equivalent to 8 ounces. Considerable variations, however, occurred throughout the Middle Ages Mark (from a merging of three Teutonic/Germanic languages words, Latinized in 9th century...

 currencies in the German Reich, the former Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 (FRG, West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 (GDR, East Germany), and after the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 in the present Federal Republic of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 until the introduction of the euro.
Encyclopedia
The Pfennig (ˈpfɛnɪç, abbreviation Pf, symbol ), plural Pfennige, is an old German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 coin or note, which existed from the 9th century until the introduction of the euro in 2002.

While a valuable coin during the Middle Ages, it lost its value through the years and was the minor coin of the Mark
Mark (money)
Mark was a measure of weight mainly for gold and silver, commonly used throughout western Europe and often equivalent to 8 ounces. Considerable variations, however, occurred throughout the Middle Ages Mark (from a merging of three Teutonic/Germanic languages words, Latinized in 9th century...

 currencies in the German Reich, the former Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 (FRG, West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 (GDR, East Germany), and after the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 in the present Federal Republic of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 until the introduction of the euro. Pfennig was also the name of the subunit of the Danzig mark
Danzig mark
The Mark was a currency issued by Free City of Danzig between 1922 and 1923. It was equivalent to the German Papiermark. It was replaced by the Gulden....

 (1922–1923) and the Danzig gulden
Danzig gulden
The Gulden was the currency of Free City of Danzig between 1923 and 1939. It was divided into 100 Pfennige.Until 1923, Danzig issued paper money denominated in Marks...

 (1923–1939) in the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 .

As a currency sign the letter 'd' for 'denarius
Denarius
In the Roman currency system, the denarius was a small silver coin first minted in 211 BC. It was the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased until its replacement by the antoninianus...

' in German kurrent script
Kurrent
Kurrent is an old form of German language handwriting based on late medieval cursive writing, also known as Kurrentschrift or Alte Deutsche Schrift...

 was used: . This abbreviation has nearly fallen out of use since the 1950s, with the demise and eventual abolition of the Reichsmark
German reichsmark
The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.-History:...

 with its Reichspfennig. The symbol is encoded in Unicode at .

Etymology

The British penny
Penny
A penny is a coin or a type of currency used in several English-speaking countries. It is often the smallest denomination within a currency system.-Etymology:...

is etymologically related to the 'Pfennig', the Swedish penning
Swedish penning
The penning was a Swedish coin first minted between 995 and 1030 and then from about 1150 until 1548. It remained a unit of account until 1777....

, which was also model for the Finnish penni (1860–2001), the Polish fenig (1917–1918) and the fening of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1998–today).

The etymology of the Pfennig is not completely clear, but seems to rely on the way coins were minted during the Middle Ages: the base material were thin flat metal discs. The value was embossed from one side, creating a pan (German Pfanne)-like coin.

In some pre-German countries (such as Prussia and Bavaria), coins had similar but different names, as Pfenning, Penning, Pending, Pfanding and Penny. This was for better handling due to different currencies (of different states within the Deutscher Bund
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

) used simultaneously.

History

In the 8th century, Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 declared that 240 Pfennigs should be minted from a pound of silver. A single coin had mass of 1.3 grams, or 1.7 grams of after the coinage reform of circa 790. Until the 13th century, the pfennig was made from real silver, and thus of high value. From the 12th century on, the King was no longer able to enforce the regalia to mint coins, so many towns and local lords made their own coins, mostly using less valuable metals and less metal per coin, so different Pfennigs had different values.
Some renowned coins are the Häller Pfennig of Schwäbisch Hall
Schwäbisch Hall
Schwäbisch Hall is a town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg and capital of the district of Schwäbisch Hall. The town is located in the valley of the river Kocher in the north-eastern part of Baden-Württemberg....

, some centuries later called Heller
Heller (money)
The Heller or Häller was originally a German coin valued at half a pfennig and named after the city of Hall am Kocher...

 and minted throughout the country, and the Kreuzer
Kreuzer
The Kreuzer, in English usually kreutzer, was a silver coin and unit of currency existing in the southern German states prior to the unification of Germany, and in Austria.-Early history:...

 (from 'Kreuz', the cross minted on the coins).
In the late 17th century the pfennigs had lost most of their value. The last Pfennig coins containing traces of silver are rarities minted in 1805.

The Mark gold currency
German gold mark
The Goldmark was the currency used in the German Empire from 1873 to 1914.-History:Before unification, the different German states issued a variety of different currencies, though most were linked to the Vereinsthaler, a silver coin containing 16⅔ grams of pure silver...

, introduced in 1873 as currency of the newly founded German Reich, was parted as 1 Mark = 100 Pfennig. This partition was retained through all German currencies until 2001.
The last West German one- and two-Pfennig coins were steel with a copper coating, the five- and ten-Pfennig coins were steel with a brass coating. The latter was called Groschen
Groschen
Groschen was the name for a coin used in various German-speaking states as well as some non-German-speaking countries of Central Europe , the Danubian principalities...

, while the five-pfennig coin, half a groschen, was regionally (east of the river Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

) also referred to as the Sechser (literally in sixpence
Sixpence
Sixpence may refer to:*Sixpence *Sixpence *Sixpence *Flat cap, also called a sixpence*Sixpence None the Richer, an American pop/rock band...

), deriving from the former duodecimal division of the groschen. All four coins had their value imprinted on the obverse and oak on the reverse.

The coins of the Mark der DDR were made of aluminium, except for the 20 pfennigs coin, which was made of an aluminium copper alloy.

Pfennig since the euro

After the introduction of the euro, some, mainly older, Germans tend to use the term Pfennig instead of cent for the copper-coloured coins (and the term Groschen for the 10-cents-coin).

Unicode

The pfennig ligature is defined and coded in Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 as follows:
International Character encoding standard
Character encoding
A character encoding system consists of a code that pairs each character from a given repertoire with something else, such as a sequence of natural numbers, octets or electrical pulses, in order to facilitate the transmission of data through telecommunication networks or storage of text in...

 Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

Character Unicode
Position
Unicode
Title
HTML
hexadecimal
HTML
decimal
U+20B0 German penny sign ₰ ₰
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