The Pfennig (help • info) (German pronunciation: [ˈpfɛnɪç], abbreviation: Pf, symbol: ₰), plural Pfennige (help • info), was the common term for the subsidiary unit of coinage in many German-speaking countries before the introduction of the euro. Examples of countries using this unit included unified Germany, as well as the German Federal Republic (West Germany) and German Democratic Republic (East Germany) during the period of its division.
Even though the pfennig was a valuable coin during the Middle Ages due to its silver content, it lost its value through the years and became equal to 0.01 of a gold mark in 1873, and German currencies afterward retained this partition.
The British penny and Swedish penning have the same linguistic origin as the pfennig. These currency names later served as models for the Finnish penni, the Polish fenig, and the fening of the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark.
Even though the etymology of the word "pfennig" is not completely clear, people believe it originates from the way coins were minted during the Middle Ages: the base material were thin flat metal discs. The value was embossed on one side, creating a pan (German Pfanne)-like coin.
In certain German countries, such as Prussia and Bavaria, coins had similar names, such as penning, pending, pfanding, and penny. This was for better handling due to the multitude of state currencies being circulated simultaneously within the German Confederation.
During the 8th century, Charlemagne declared that 240 pfennigs should be struck from a pound of silver. The early coins weighed from 1.2 to 1.3 grams, but issues after the currency reform of circa 790 weighed about 1.7. Until the 13th century, the pfennig was composed of real silver, and thus held a higher value. Beginning in the 12th century, the King was unable to enforce the prerogatives to mint coins, so a number of towns and local lords issued their own coins, often using less valuable metals and less metal per coin, so different pfennigs held different values.
Some recognized pfennigs are the Häller Pfennig of Schwäbisch Hall, some centuries later referred to as the heller and minted throughout the country, and the kreuzer (from "Kreuz", the cross featured on the coin).
During the late 17th century, pfennigs had lost most of their value. The last pfennigs that contained traces of silver were issues from the Principality of Leiningen minted in 1805. The gold mark was introduced in 1873 as the currency of the newly founded German Empire, and 1 mark consisted of 100 pfennig. The currencies of Germany that followed, the Papiermark, Rentenmark, Reichsmark, East German mark, and Deutsche Mark, all used this partition.
The pfennig currency sign is a letter "d" (for "denarius") in Kurrent script with a downward swing: ₰. This abbreviation has nearly fallen out of use since the 1950s, following the demise and the abolition of the Reichsmark and its Reichspfennig. The symbol is encoded with Unicode at U+20B0 ₰ GERMAN PENNY SIGN (HTML: ₰). It is currently displayable in Arial, Courier New, Malgun Gothic, MS Mincho, Tahoma, Times New Roman, and Verdana fonts.
|Character||Unicode position||Unicode title||HTML hexadecimal||HTML decimal|
|₰||U+20B0||German penny sign||₰||₰|