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Homesick … for the Dutch guilder!

Those Dutch emigrants who left the Netherlands during the last century know better than most what it’s like to miss the Dutch gulden (guilder). But from January 2002, even those at home began to understand this very particular form of nostalgia. So, what exactly was so special about the Dutch guilder and why do so many Dutch people still yearn for their former currency that included the beloved kwartje, the rijksdaalder, the joetje, the geeltje and the meier?

The Dutch guilder was the official monetary unit and the only form of legal tender in the Netherlands, from the Middle Ages right up until January 2002. No wonder so many Dutch still hanker after the guilder, when the currency has been connecting the population for such an age!

Dutch guilders

The name ‘gulden’ comes from the word ‘gouden florijn’ or gold florin and was named after the Florentine coin, the ‘fiorino d’oro’, which also explains why the guilder’s currency symbol is ‘ƒ ‘or’ fl’. The images of Dutch royalty and nobility such as King William I, Queen Wilhelmina and more recently Queen Beatrix, have appeared on the numerous guilder coins that were released throughout the centuries. A particularly unique feature of the Dutch guilder was that it made use of the so-called ‘kwartenstelsel’ or quarter system, which meant that one gulden was comprised of 4 quarters, a 100-guilder note of four 25-guilder notes and a 1000 guilder note of four 250-guilder notes. In contrast, the euro uses the decimal system that doesn’t include quarters or 25 and 250-euro notes.

Although there was little resistance amongst the Dutch to the introduction of the euro at the time, many believe that it caused prices to rise dramatically. And some found it hard to adjust to the value of the new euro (1 euro was equal to ƒ2, 20) and even though they mentally calculated it back to guilders, still frequently spent too much. Many shops, and in particular the hospitality industry, were quick to take advantage of this and raised their prices considerably.

Whilst the Dutch no longer tend to calculate in guilders, many do still recall their past Dutch currency with much fondness. According to market researcher Ipsos, which conducted a survey among the Dutch population in 2012, some 20% of Dutch people would like to see the Dutch guilder reinstated. Dutch liquorice manufacturers have to some extent assuaged this form of Dutch ‘heimwee’ (home sickness) by introducing a special range of liquorice coins, including Klene salmiakriksen, Klene zakgeld and the ever popular Klene muntdrop.

Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?

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