Maastricht International Fair - Norway was another country with very early issues

Norway was another country with very early issues, the first being 1695, just one year after the Bank of England issued notes. They are known as ‘Mohlen notes’.

Jorgen Thor Mohlen had built up an empire of businesses producing ropes, soap, oil, woollen goods, gunpowder and many other things. He was the richest man in Norway and became economic adviser to the government.

However, his success depended on the safe arrival of his many ships which were trading throughout the world. The wars that plagued Europe during this period caused him significant losses and made it much easier for privateers and pirates to also capture his vessels.

Mohlen approached the king and asked for permission to issue banknotes as a stop-gap until more of his trading ships could arrive from various parts of the world. This was granted, but the people had little trust in the notes and presented them for redemption as soon as they received them. Eventually, Mohlen was forced into bankruptcy and, although once the wealthiest man in Norway, he died insolvent in 1709.

His notes, which still turn up in auctions now and then, were printed on thick rag paper and bore four red seals and several signatures. The wording translated, “As His Royal Majesty the 22 June this Year 1695/his Most Gracious Decree has issued/regarding certain Notes/that shall go for Money North of the Mountains of His Royal Majesty’s Kingdom Norway/Then is this Note according to the said Decree authorised for the Value of …”.

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