From Marteau

Reichsthaler / Rijksdaalder / Rigsdalder / Riksdaler / Rixdollar

The Reichsthaler was by imperial decree a coin of 29.23 g silver (889/1000 fineness) with a silberweight of 25.98 g. The order issued in 1566 had stated that 9 Reichsthaler were to be minted of 1 Mark silver of Cologne (of 233.856 g).

Reichsthalers minted according to this decree were called Speciesthaler, whereas as a Reichsthaler currency unit was fixed at 3/4 of the Reichsthaler species – a regulation causing infinite confusion (Isaac Newton stated in one of his reports that his German was probably not good enough to understand these distinctions).

The Reichsthaler currency unit (of 3/4 of the Reichsthaler minted) soon made a career as a European standard useful wherever money was to be transferred via linkbills of exchange. Stockholm, Copenhagen, Antwerp and Amsterdam adopted the unit - rijksdaalders and rigsdalers and Reichsthaler had the same value.

The confusion is partly due to the fact that German sources can call a "Species Thaler" or "gemünzter Thaler" simply a "Reichsthaler" as soon as the context makes it clear that a coin is mentioned. On the other hand the artificial currency unit (of 3/4 of the Reichsthaler minted) found its own minted equivalents with the Flemish and Dutch Patagons – often called rijksdaalder – and the French Ècu often referred to as the French Thaler.

Subpage of the Marteau Platform of Research in Economic History