The history of banking in Sweden dates to 1657, and the history of banknotes to the year 1661. Within this timespan the most interesting period is arguably the period between 1831 and 1904, an era when many private banks issued a wide variety of bank notes and the evolution of a modern central bank takes place in parallel lines.
The Bank of the Estates of the Realm (Sveriges Riksbank) had quite a bumpy road to become a modern central bank, and during the 19th Century the bank had severe problems in providing services and banknotes to the entire country. In fact, one could say that without the help from the private banks it is likely that the economic growth would have been massively delayed and hindered, at least in rural and desolate areas.
Sixteen Daler 32 Shilling Bank Note (19th Century) by Rikets Ständers BankEconomy Museum – Royal Coin Cabinet
Keeping this in mind, the central bank to become was still anxious to ensure its control of the financial system. As a result, the “Affiliated banks” where invented in mid-century. These were private banks but issued no bank notes, and the idea was to distribute banknotes for the Bank of the estates of the Realm instead.
An additional reason to establish those banks was to free the bank of the estates of the Realm from its dual function of providing loans and guarding the silver standard.
Paper Mould C50, reverse (1865/1904) by Tumba pappersbrukTumba Paper Mill Museum
The collection of moulds in Tumba Paper Mill Museum somewhat reflects this period, at least the period between 1870 and 1904.
2020 project, making new paper using historical paper moulds
In 2020 a project was launched to produce a reference collection of paper sheets using some of the old moulds and deckles. The chosen objects are mainly moulds intended for making paper used to print banknotes for various private banks in the late 19th Century.
Paper Sheet KEB (2020) by Tumba pappersbrukTumba Paper Mill Museum
The project came out of a lack of examples where you can see the watermarks clearly. There are quite a few banknotes still in existence, but it is often hard to study the watermarks in detail because the printing obscures the watermark.
The result of the project consists of a range of pictures showing the moulds and the finished paper.
The history of Swedish banknotes is long, and so is the history of Swedish banknote paper. Tumba paper mill has been the sole supplier to the Swedish Central Bank (Sveriges Riksbank) since 1759 and produced most of the bank note paper used by the private banks.
Text: RIchard Kjellgren, Swedish History Museums