The State Bank of the Russian Empire established

12 June 1860

May 31 (June 12), 1860 under the decree of Emperor Alexander II, the State Bank was established on the basis of the reorganization of the National Commercial Bank. It was the central bank and the largest one of the Russian Empire, whose main task was to regulate currency circulation in the country. Its first manager was a major Russian financier and industrialist, Baron A. L. Stieglitz. Right after the organization of the State Bank, the emperor approved its charter.

The first attempts in Russia to create public credit institutions were made in the 18th century. In 1733 Empress Anna Ivanovna in connection with "the total absence of credit institutions and the resulting from it huge extortion of money lenders" ordered to issue loans from Monetnaya Office, credit transactions of which were very small and soon stopped. Later, a prominent role in the monetary operations played the Salt Office, the Treasuries under St. Petersburg and Moscow Foundling Homes, offices of public charity, St. Petersburg and Moscow offices of bank bill production for copper money circulation.

 In 1769 in St. Petersburg and Moscow banks were created "for government bills exchange," and in 1786 they were transformed into the State Assignation Bank, which was assigned to the function of issue of paper money. In 1797, under the Bank was founded three accounting offices – a bill office; an office for issuing loans for goods and an insurance office. In 1786 to promote the noble land tenure, the State Loan Bank was established.

In January of 1818 in Russia was established the National Commercial Bank, which actually served as the issuing bank, but in those years it did not have the status of the central bank. Its creation was one of the measures aimed at improving the country's credit institutions, whose position was undermined by the excessive release of notes, the issuance of long-term loans from demand deposits and secret borrowings for the needs of the government. The State Commercial Bank became a joint-stock institution.

In 1860, for a "revival of trade turnover" and "consolidation of the monetary credit system" of Russia, through the reorganization of the National Commercial Bank, the State Bank was established. Its activities were controlled by the Ministry of Finance and were under the supervision of the Council of State credit institutions. The Board of Directors was also an advisory body under the Ministry of Finance in the field of fiscal policy. The State Bank had been granted the right to make records of bills and other fixed-term securities, to buy and sell gold and silver, to accept payments at the expense of trustees, to accept deposits for storage, for the current account, to issue loans (except for mortgages), to buy and sell interest bearing securities at the expense of trustees and at its own expense.

The State Bank was a state-government bank of the Russian Empire and an important part of the state system, the body of the economic policy of the Russian government. The Bank took an active part in the creation of the banking system throughout the country: under its support were established the joint-stock banks and the mutual credit societies. The State Bank, being, in accordance with its Charter, the short-term commercial loan bank, was the largest credit institution of the country. It credited trade and industry through the network of its branches and offices, as well as through commercial banks. The State Bank local departments were represented by the offices, approved by a special imperial decree, and by the branches created under the direct order of the Ministry of Finance - all of them reported directly to the Board of the State Bank.

The first period of the State Bank operation, from 1860 to the mid-1890s, was characterized by high centralization of control by the state, i. e., the Bank was not completely autonomous. Up to the mid-1880s, the main source of funds for the State Bank was the deposits paid by percents and current accounts, and later - means from the state treasury.

In the early 1880s it became clear that the charter of the State Bank and the activities based on it did not meet any more the changed economic situation in the country. The main reason, hindering the activities of the Bank, was the lack of funds. In June 1884 the Emperor Alexander III approved the new Charter, which significantly completed the information about the Bank’s purpose, which consisted not only in alleviating the cash flow and strengthening the monetary system, as documented previously, but also in the "short-term assistance through short-term loans to domestic trade, industry and agriculture." The new charter included lending provided to agriculture and manufacturing industry, as well as to artisans and craftsmen. However, the Bank was still subordinate to the Ministry of Finance.

From the mid-1880s, the focus of the State Bank was concentrated on the preparation of monetary reform. The objectives of the institution at the time were to accumulate gold reserves and fight against exchange rate fluctuations through foreign exchange policy. From the mid-1890s, the main source of commercial operations of the State Bank was no longer deposits of private and state agencies, as it was before 1894-1895, but treasury funds. Under the decree of Emperor Nicholas II of 29 August (September 9), 1897 the State Bank was transformed into the central issuing institution with a monopoly right to issue bank-notes, while keeping, unlike the central banks of issue in other countries, the status of the leading commercial bank in the Russian Empire.

Significant growth in the State Bank operations was observed during the pre-war industrial boom. During these years it became one of the largest and most influential European credit institutions, had a large stock of gold, regulated monetary circulation and Russian currency settlings, took an active part in the lending to industry and commerce. Concentrating financial resources through an extensive network of branches, and using the funds of the Treasury, the Bank continued to finance the economy, but showed a tendency to turn into a central bank of the European type, by resorting to indirect forms of credit through a joint-stock commercial banks. From 1910 the State Bank stepped up activity in grain trade - the leading industry of Russia's exports; it carried out the construction of grain elevators and silos. The Bank provided significant lending to trade and industry on the periphery, subsidized credit co-operatives, farmers, and to a lesser extent - industry. In those years the State Bank was also controlling a network of state savings banks with a government guarantee of deposits.

During the First World War, the Bank was mainly aimed at financing the army through the issuance of bank-notes, and also at the complete cessation of operations in the commercial loan market. The State Bank was no longer the debtor of the Treasury, but on the contrary, the largest creditor of the Russian government. "Treasury bills" were the main item of the Bank's assets, having increased in 1914-1916 in more than 150 times. By the fall of 1917, the credits related to the war, represented more than 90% of the Bank's balance sheet.

14 (27) December, 1917 under the decree of the Council of People's Commissars "On the nationalization of the banks" in Russia was introduced the state monopoly on banking. The State Bank was merged with the nationalized joint-stock commercial banks into the People's Bank of the Russian Republic, and then - the People's Bank of the RSFSR.


Lit.: Бугров А. В. Московская контора Государственного банка Российской империи: Развитие сети учреждений Государственного банка Российской империи: Исторический очерк. М., 1999; Он же. Очерки по истории государственного банка Российской империи. М., 2001; Гиндин И. Ф. Государственный банк и экономическая политика царского правительства (1861-1892). М., 1960; Главный банк страны: история и его руководители. М., 2011; История Банка России, 1860-2010: В 2 т. М., 2010; История Министерства финансов России. Т. 1. М., 2002; Кредит и банки России до начала XX в.: Санкт-Петербург и Москва. СПб., 2005; Татаринов С. В. Финансово-экономические кризисы второй половины XIX века и государственный банк Российской империи: автореф. дис. … к. и. н. М., 2012.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Государственный Банк // Энциклопедический словарь/ под ред. проф. И. Е. Андреевского. Т. 2а. СПб., 1891. С. 922—926;

Государственный Банк: видовая фотография. Киев, б. д.;

Свод уставов Г. банка и контор его, указов и инструкций об устройстве, делопроизводстве и отчётности контор и отделений Государственного банка. СПб., 1872;

Свод уставов Г. банка и контор его, указов и инструкций об устройстве, делопроизводстве и отчётности контор и отделений Государственного банка. СПб., 1884.