O’Brien Obsolete Currency Guide: Montenegro (Perpera)


The Kingdom of Montenegro (Serbian: Краљевина Црнa Горa / Kraljevina Crna Gora), was a monarchy in southeastern Europe during the tumultuous years on the Balkan Peninsula leading up to and during The Great War (WW1).

  • Legally it was a constitutional monarchy, but absolutist in practice

Prince Nicholas of Montenegro, in 1906, issued coins in denominations of 1, 2, 10 and 20 pare.

1908 Montenegro 2 pare

1908 Montenegro 2 pare

  • The 1 and 2 pare were bronze, the 10 and 20 pare were nickel.
1912 Montenegro 5 Perpera Nicholas I

1912 Montenegro 5 Perpera Nicholas I

  • In 1909, silver 1 and 5 perpera coins were added, followed by 2 perpera in 1910.

Prince Nicholas of Montenegro proclaimed the Kingdom of Montenegro in Cetinje on 28 August 1910. King Nicholas I (as he became) had ruled the country as Prince since 1860, and had initiated several modernizing reforms at the beginning of the 20th century, such as introducing a constitution and a new currency, the Montenegrin perper.

  • Gold 10 and 20 perpera were also issued in 1910, along with very limited numbers of 100 perpera coins.
10 Perper Montenegro Gold

1910 Kingdom of Montenegro – 10 Gold Perpera

Technical Specifications

Denomination Diameter Weight Fineness Gold Content
10 Perpera 19.00 mm   3.3875 g 0.900 0.0980 troy ounces
20 Perpera 21.10 mm   6.7751 g 0.900 0.1960 troy ounces
100 Perpera 34.50 mm 33.8753 g 0.900 0.9802 troy ounces

The perper (Serbian Cyrillic: Перпер; plural перпери) was adopted in accordance to the earlier Serbian perper, the currency of the Serbian Empire, to which the Principality, later Kingdom of Montenegro, considered itself to be a successor.

  • It was divided into 100 pare (singular para, Serbian: паре, пара) and was equivalent to the Austro-Hungarian krone.
  • Banknotes were issued in 1912 by the treasury in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 and 100 perpera.
Front of Montenegro banknote, 10 Perpera, pick 4b from the year 1912

Front of Montenegro banknote, 10 Perpera, pick 4b from the year 1912

  • In 1914, the government issued three series of banknotes, in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 perpera.
1914 Montenegro 100 Perpera

1914 Montenegro 100 Perpera

Montenegro joined the First Balkan War in 1912, hoping to get a share in the last Ottoman-controlled areas of Rumelia. Montenegro did make further territorial gains by splitting Sandžak with Serbia on 30 May 1913. But the Montenegrins had to abandon the newly captured city of İşkodra (Skadar in Serbian, subsequently Shkodër) to the new state of Albania in May 1913, at the insistence of the Great Powers, despite the Montenegrins having invested 10,000 lives into the capture of the town (April 1913) from the Ottoman-Albanian forces of Esad Pasha.

When the Second Balkan War broke out in June 1913, Serbia fought against Bulgaria, and King Nicholas sided with Serbia. Once again Montenegro found itself tossed into war, in which it won substantial additional territory.

During World War I (1914-1918) Montenegro allied itself with the Triple Entente, in line with King Nicholas’ pro-Serbian policy. Accordingly, Austria-Hungary occupied Montenegro from 15 January 1916 to October 1918.

  • During the Austrian occupation during World War I, government notes of the second and third series were overprinted by the military government district commands.
  • In 1917, the Austrian army issued convertible vouchers denominated in perpera, perpera coins (Münzperper) and Kronen, with 2 perpera = 1 coin perper = 1 Krone.
1917 Austrian occupation of Montenegro - the Austrian Army issued vouchers which temporarily replaced the local currency.

1917 Austrian occupation of Montenegro – the Austrian Army issued vouchers which temporarily replaced the local currency.

  • On 28 November 1918 Montenegro was unified with the Kingdom of Serbia
  • Three days later, on 1 December 1918, it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
The perper was replaced by the dinar when Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia)

The perper was replaced by the dinar when Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia)

At the end of the 20th century, Montenegro contemplated issuing the perper again. However, it decided to adopt the Deutsche mark instead, and later followed the change to the euro.  As such, the newly independent Republic of Montenegro now has no currency of its own.

  • From 1996 the Deutsche Mark was the de facto currency in all private and banking transactions
  • It was formally adopted as Montenegro’s currency in November 1999
  • The mark was replaced by the euro in 2002 without any objections from the European Central Bank (ECB)

The European Commission and the ECB have since voiced their discontent over Montenegro’s unilateral use of the euro on several occasions.  The EU insists on the strict adherence to convergence criteria (such as spending at least 2 years in the ERM II system) which are not negotiable before euro adoption, but have not intervened to stop the unilateral use of the euro by Montenegro.

  • The EU has raised concerns of Montenegro’s state debt, which had risen to 57 percent of GDP by 2011

Officials from the Central Bank of Montenegro have indicated on several occasions that the European institutions do expect them to strictly follow ERM rules, particularly because of their EU accession process.

Nikola Fabris, chief economist of the Central Bank of Montenegro, said

“the situation was different when they adopted the euro, and that other states which were considering unilaterally adopting the euro, such as Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, would face sanctions from the EU and have their accession process suspended if they went ahead.”

On 17 December 2010, Montenegro was granted candidate status to join the European Union.

  • The currency issue is expected to be resolved through the negotiations process.
  • The ECB has stated that the implications of unilateral euro adoption “would be spelled out at the latest in the event of possible negotiations on EU accession.”
  • Diplomats have suggested that it is unlikely Montenegro will be forced to withdraw the euro from circulation in their country. Radoje Žugić, Montenegro’s Minister of Finance, has stated that “it would be extremely economically irrational to return to our own currency and then later to again go back to the euro.”
  • Instead, he hopes that Montenegro will be permitted to keep the euro and has promised “the government of Montenegro, will adopt some certain elements, which should fulfill the conditions for further use of the euro; such as adopting fiscal rules.”

Unlike official members of the Eurozone, Montenegro does not mint coins and therefore has no distinctive national design.

  • This should not mean they won’t have a national side
  • It just means that they will adopt completely new designs – probably via a design competition
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