The thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for four hundred years. Its name lives on in the many currencies called dollar and the Samoan tālā, until also in the Slovenian tolar; the name thaler was used as an abbreviation of Joachimsthaler, a coin type from the town of Joachimsthal in the Kingdom of Bohemia, where there were silver mines and the first such coins were minted in 1518. This original Bohemian thaler carried a lion, from the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Bohemia, on its reverse side. Etymologically, Thal is German for "valley", a thaler is a person or a thing "from the valley"; the Czech spelling was tolar. In the 1902 spelling reform, the German spelling was changed from Thal and Thaler to Tal and Taler, which however did not affect the English spelling of thaler; the Dutch daalders carried the picture of a lion, which gave them the name leeuwendaalder. From an abbreviation of leeuwendaalder come the names of three present-day Balkan currencies, the Romanian and Moldovan Leu and the Bulgarian Lev.
The roots and development of the thaler-sized silver coin date back to the mid-15th century. As the 15th century drew to a close the state of much of Europe's coinage was quite poor because of repeated debasement induced by the costs of continual warfare, by the incessant centuries-long loss of silver and gold in indirect one-sided trades importing spices, porcelain and other fine cloths and exotic goods from India and the Far East; this continual debasement had reached a point that silver content in Groschen-type coins had dropped, in some cases, to less than five percent, making the coins of much less individual value than they had in the beginning. Countering this trend, with the discovery and mining of silver deposits in Europe, Italy began the first tentative steps toward a large silver coinage with the introduction in 1472 of the lira tron in excess of 6 grams, a substantial increase over the 4-gram gros tournois of France. In 1474 a 9-gram lira was issued but it was in 1484 that Archduke Sigismund of Tirol issued the first revolutionary silver coin, the half Guldengroschen of 15.5 grams.
This was a rare coin a trial piece, but it did circulate so that demand could not be met. With the silver deposits—being mined at Schwaz—to work with and his mint at Hall, Sigismund issued, in 1486, large numbers of the first true thaler-sized coin, the Guldengroschen; the Guldengroschen, nicknamed the guldiner, was unqualified success. Soon it was being copied by many states who had the necessary silver; the engravers, no less affected by the Renaissance than were other artists, began creating intricate and elaborate designs featuring the heraldic arms and standards of the minting state as well as brutally realistic, sometimes unflattering, depictions of the ruler. By 1518, guldiners were popping up everywhere in central Europe. In the Kingdom of Bohemia ruled together with Hungary by Louis II of the Jagiellonian dynasty, a guldiner was minted— of similar physical size but less fineness—that was named in German the Joachimsthaler, from the silver mined by the Counts of Schlick at a rich source near Joachimsthal where Thal means "valley" in German.
Joachim, the father of the Virgin Mary, was portrayed on the coin along with the Bohemian lion. Similar coins began to be minted in neighbouring valleys rich in silver deposits, each named after the particular'thal' or valley from which the silver was extracted. There were soon so many of them that these silver coins began to be known more as'thaler' in German and'tolar' in the Czech language. From these earliest'thaler' developed the new thaler – the coin that the Holy Roman Empire had been looking to create as a standard for trade between the regions of Europe; the original Joachimsthaler Guldengroschen was one ounce in weight. The Empire's Reichstaler was defined as containing 400.99 grains of silver and became the coin of account of the whole Empire. In the 17th century, some Joachimsthalers were in circulation in the Tsardom of Russia, where they were called yefimok – a distortion of the first half of the name; the zenith of thaler minting occurred in the late 16th and 17th centuries with the so-called "multiple thalers" called Lösers in Germany.
The first were minted in Brunswick, indeed the majority were struck there. Some of these coins reached as much as sixteen normal thalers; the original reason for minting these colossal coins, some of which exceeded a full pound of silver and being over 12 cm in diameter, is uncertain. The name "löser" most was derived from a large gold coin minted in Hamburg called the Portugalöser, worth 10 ducats; some of the silver löser reached this value, but not all. The term was applied to numerous similar coins worth more than a single thaler; these coins are rare, the larger ones costing tens of thousands of dollars, are sought after by serious collectors of thalers. Few circulated in any real sense so they remain in well-preserved condition. In the Holy Roman Empire, the thaler was used as the standard against which the various states' currencies could be valued. One standard adopted by Prussia was the Reichsthaler, which contained 1⁄14 of a Cologne mark of silver. In 1754, the Conventionsthaler was introduced.
In 1837, the Prussian thaler beca
Opoczno S. A. or ZPC Opoczno, known in Polish as the Zespół Zakładów Płytek Ceramicznych Opoczno, is the largest producer of ceramic tiles in Poland. For half a century the foundry enjoyed a monopoly status in the local market. Established in the town of Opoczno in the mid 19th century, it became the first and largest ceramic tiles manufacturer in Congress Poland under the Russian partition; the company was formed by brothers Władysław Lange with businessman Jan Dziewulski. Under the name of Dziewulski i Lange it began producing tiles in 1886. After World War II the foundry was nationalized by the communists and renamed in 1950 as ZPC Opoczno; the Revolutions of 1989 and the fall of totalitarianism in Eastern Europe brought dramatic changes – with introduction of the free market economy – prompting further structural changes. Opoczno S. A. was privatized on September 5, 2000. At present, the majority of shares in the ownership of the company belong to foreign investors. Opoczno foundry has a staff of 2,500 and in part, the shares of its capital stock are still owned by the state according to Wprost weekly.
The Opoczno S. A. Group shareholders used to include: Credit Suisse First Boston Ceramic Partners Sarl – 50.2%, the State Treasury – 39.1%, Opoczno employees – 10.7%. The Sarl consortium sold its shares to Cersanit S. A. according to Bankier.pl magazine. The original Dziewulski & Lange factory of Opoczno received recognition in relation to history of the Holocaust in occupied Poland; the tiles stamped with the D✡L logo were unearthed in 2010 on the grounds of the former Treblinka extermination camp. An archaeological team performing excavations, led by Caroline Sturdy Colls of Staffordshire, explained that the evidence is of paramount importance, because the gas chambers at Treblinka were the only brick structure in the camp; the old Opoczno tiles provided the first physical proof for their existence. Survivor Jankiel Wiernik wrote in his Holocaust memoir before the end of war that the floors which he helped build, were made of such tiles; the discovery of ceramic bathroom tiles became the subject of the 2014 documentary Treblinka: Hitler's Killing Machine by the Smithsonian Channel.
The tiles from Opoczno found at Treblinka were erroneously perceived as featuring a Star of David. Further analysis by Polish scientists led to the discovery of the true origins of the star identified as the historic trademark of the company which made the Treblinka tiles; the theory of the Star of David was therefore put to rest. Though all Treblinka tiles display a logo, it is not known what the meaning of the star might have been. Lange is not a Slavic surname. Once established, the logo remained in use during the interwar period; the foundry survived the 1939 invasion of Poland and remained in private hands until 1949. During the darkest years of Stalinism in Poland it was renamed. Only after the Treblinka discovery, the star became the subject of intense scrutiny. Archeological assessments published by Staffordshire in the period following the Smithsonian documentary no longer identified the logo as Jewish in origin, an issue of central importance previously. Treblinka extermination camp built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II operated between July 23, 1942, October 19, 1943, as part of Operation Reinhard, the most deadly phase of the Final Solution.
During this time, between 700,000 and 900,000 Polish Jews were killed in its gas chambers disguised as shower-rooms complete with ceramic bathroom tiles. More victims were gassed at Treblinka than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz