While looking up family history I found an old German marriage document which specified a dowry of "1000 Franks." With that, the families in question were from the Suggental/Waldkirch area in what is today the German State of Baden-Württemberg in the northern parts of the "Black Forest." The two possibilities I can think of is that either they used Swiss or French Franks or Francs because they may have moved from either area, or there might have potentially been some sort of Swiss or French influence in the area. The latter, to me, does not seem as possible.

  • You might get a reasonable answer if you tell us the date of the document.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 17:57
  • 1
    @fdb: Actually, I fail to see how any specific date between 1500 and 1806 would enlighten us more than late 18th century already does. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 18:08
  • @fdb... 1788 was the year of the agreement.
    – oswana21
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 19:47
  • In the late 18s century, there was no "Germany".
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 23:08
  • @Alex I am well aware of that. People still identified themselves as Germans. The agreement was written in High German.
    – oswana21
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


Note that for the time period of interest there was no single German state, as we are talking not only long before the German unification of the mid Nineteenth Century but also well before the simplification of German states that occurred during the Napoleonic period. Consequently:

Up to that time [1871] several dozen independent German States and cities issued their own coinage under their own rulers.

Other common possible choices might have been either the Prussian Thaler or the Bavarian Gulden. The marriage contract was likely denominated in the currency that was kept in hand by the bride's father, as in that way currency exchange would be minimized. If the bride's father was selling property in order to raise the dowry amount, he would have negotiated a currency choice matching that of the expected sale, again to minimize currency exchange.

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    Thank you for the comment; it has been very helpful. In another marriage contract in 1813, in the same area, Guldens were the currency used.
    – oswana21
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 17:21
  • @oswana21: I note that a religious man might still have a lingering affection in this time period for Catholic currencies such as the Gulden or French Frank over a Protestant one like the Swiss Frank or Prussian Thaler. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 18:09
  • It was definitely a Catholic wedding.
    – oswana21
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 18:18
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    I would like to note that at the time, money was bullion; in other words a French (or other) coin was supposed to have a silver or gold weight equal to its face value. As long it was a currency known enough that everybody around you knew its value (relative to other local currencies or goods), the country of origin was not as important (unless it was known that it debased the currency). What you got was not as much X livres or marks, but Y grams of gold (or silver) certified by the French (or Prussian or Bavarian) mint.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 23:03

This refers to the French pound, the livre. French money was in common use in Germany, Italy and many other places during the 1700s. The livre was worth about $12 - $25. There were 24 silver livres in a Louis, which was the gold coin.

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    Where did you get your information from so I can continue research?
    – oswana21
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:26
  • This is common knowledge. You could just read the Wikipedia articles on the French monetary system. If you read contemporary French and German novels from the period in question you will find references to the common sorts of money. For example Histoire de Ma Vie by Casanova and the autobiography of Karl Philipp Moritz. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:45
  • Franc d'argent was a silver coin that was minted. The name was later (1795) used to name the decimal currency that replaced the livre. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 10:30

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