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100th Anniversary of the Establishment of Bank Polski SA

The establishment of Bank Polski SA was related to the currency reform and the consolidation of public finances, which were both conducted by the Władysław Grabski government from December 1923 to the spring of 1924. The recovery programme was aimed at achieving budget stabilisation, a balanced money market and a stable exchange rate of the Polish mark, to be later replaced by the złoty, a new Polish currency. Bank Polski SA became a bank of issue, which replaced the Polish Loan Bank, the institution set up by the German occupant in 1916.

The legal mandate of the bank was laid down in the Act of 11 January 1924 on State Treasury Repair and the Currency Reform. The Polish President Stanisław Wojciechowski signed the statute of Bank Polski as a joint stock company on 20 January 1924. The document defined the bank’s institutional powers, set out the principles governing the appointment of the bank’s authorities and contained the terms and conditions of the issue of the Polish currency. The Bank was granted the exclusive right to issue the złoty until 31 December 1944. Subscription for its shares began in March 1924. A million shares of Bank Polski SA with the face value of 100 złoty each were acquired by 176,000 buyers. Initially, the share of the State Treasury in the issue was merely 1 percent, and the ownership structure of the remaining shares was largely dispersed, which allowed the bank to remain independent of the state authorities.

The founding meeting of the newly created institution was scheduled for 15 April 1924, and the bank commenced its activities on 28 April 1924. Władysław Grabski unveiled a plaque (placed inside the building originally erected for the Russian State Bank at 10 Bielańska Street in Warsaw) with the following inscription: “The Polish State, by establishing Bank Polski in 1924 as the mainstay of monetary order in the country and as an expression of the current link with the ageold institution of that name, expresses its gratitude to the numerous citizens who spared no sacrifice to the National Treasury.” The bank started issuing the złoty on the same day. Stanisław Karpiński was appointed the bank’s first president, and he held the position until 1929.

The activity of Bank Polski SA was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. The institution was evacuated to Paris, and later to London, where it continued its activity, however scaling down its operations. After the end of WW II, the bank was deprived of its issuing rights and formally liquidated in 1951.

Grzegorz Jeż, PhD

The reverse of the coin features the image of Stanisław Karpiński against the background of a portal above the entrance to the bank’s main operations hall.
The obverse of the coin features the pre-war façade of the building of Bank Polski SA, located at Bielańska street in Warsaw.