The Former Russian Mint in Sadagora

from a lecture by Dr. Johann Polek

before the general meeting of the members of the
Bukowiner country-museum on the 6th of May, 1894

Originally published in German.
English translation donated by Nicholas Martin.

In the fall of 1768, the interference of the Czarina, Catherine II, in the affairs of Poland led to a war between Turkey and Russia. The initial action began in the spring of 1769. On the 21st of September, the Russians occupied the Chotin fortress, and five days later took Jassy, conquering Bucharest on the 17th of November. Both Danube principalities belonged to the Czarina. In the second campaign (1770), the Russians were victorious on land and water, and took from the Turks most of the fortresses along the Danube.

The decision to fight Turkey forced Catherine II to look at how to supply her army by the shortest route, and especially how to pay them, given a lack of coinage. She thus arranged for the establishment of a mint in Moldavia, and entrusted its administration to the Baltic Peter Freiherrn von Gartenberg (in Russian, Sadagorski). Gartenberg arrived in Moldavia in the fall of 1770. His first task was to select a suitable place for a mint. Without doubt, it would depend on the timber wealth for the greatest possible safety before the enemy. This desire was answered opposite the Pruth River from Czernowitz; at that time, there was an impenetrable primeval forest covering Pruthebene, not far from Rohozna, whose owners had agreed not to impose a levy on the establishment of the mint. The newcomers soon spread great activity throughout the region, until now only inhabited by wolves. The old beeches were felled, the undergrowth cleared, and the forest land plowed. At Tarnawa, the mint was constructed, and nearby the workers prepared their housing. Gartenberg’s welcoming, as well as the promise of a good income, attracted craftsmen and tradesmen to make themselves at home here as well as in Sadagora — a name which apparently the colony had from the very beginning — and also those from the nearby surroundings found paying work.

The mint was Imperial; and yet Gartenberg had an almost totally free hand with the minting. He took over the captured Turkish cannons from the state, and delivered a corresponding amount to the war treasury from the coins minted from them, all for just the cost of the material. He could use the remainder of the coins for purposes of the mint’s expenses, and to exchange for gold and silver for his own agents in the region; but the total sum of the money minted by him could not exceed two million roubles. The Sadagora coins soon became a heavy burden for the population of both of the Danube principalities. Apart from the fact that they were much worse with regard to quality and weight, the sum put into circulation amounted to 3 million roubles. This happened without Field Marshal Rumanzow, the commander in chief, warning, punishing, or intervening. But of the rest, the officers also took no notice if the Sadagora coinage was used only for the personnel, while they themselves filled their salaries in gold and silver directly from Russia. However, they might also have been silent because they also took a more or less direct interest in the coin profit.

The bad Sadagora coinage must also be ascribed in part to the changing affections of the Russians, whose pleasure at first in the war in the Danube turned finally into aversion. With the ending of the war, the need for a mint beyond the borders of Russia also ended. The Sadagora mint officials began already in April, 1774, to sell their belongings. And the mint’s office was abandoned as soon as the Austrian troops entered Moldavia on the 31st of August, 1774.

Go to the original web posting, with illustrations of coinage from Sadagora.