Armenian dram sign: Wikis


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After proclamation of independence Armenia put into circulation own national currency – Armenian Dram, the usage of which revealed the necessity for a monetary sign. As the result of common business practice and the unique pattern of Armenian letters the shape of the sign and its variations appeared in the business scratches. Since that time and until the official endorsement of the sign a number of artists and businessmen developed and offered various shapes for it. Now the Sign is present in the Armenian standard for the national characters and symbols.




Heritage of Mashtots

The original idea by K. Komendaryan for the Dram Sign shape among the other symbols. Euro was not announced yet.

There is a strong belief that the shape of Dram Sign is a direct projection of the Armenian alphabet – the brilliant work of Mesrop Mashtots. It is not hard to notice the clean-cut geometry of Armenian letters, so did the author of the Sign when studied the alphabet. Later he became a proponent for the hypothesis [1], which states that the prototype of the Armenian alphabet is a variety of combinations of resembling curves and horizontal elements. Subsequently these horizontal elements played a key role in the Sign development.

One of the first records of USD exchange for AMD at the rate of 516 dram/dollar

Date of creation

The sign was created on 7 September 1995. This date refers to the specific page in the preserved scratches for cash flow in business activity of a start-up company. Since that date the sign together with the dollar sign is constantly present in cash flow records (euro was not in circulation yet), and no record at earlier date is tendered by anybody.


The objective of the sign is to symbolize the Armenian national currency and come in handy wherever a graphical symbol for the currency would be in demand, for instance in: financial documents, price-lists and tags, currency exchange displays, computer fonts, correspondence, etc.

The shape of the sign has to be easily recognized as a national monetary symbol like the other foreign symbols, therefore it:

  • denotes the Armenian National Currency by graphical means;
  • recalls the outlines of Armenian letters;
  • carries elements typical for the foreign monetary symbols;
  • is easily reproduced with a few strokes;
  • is enough plain to memorize it.

Present to Republic

The exceptional chance to present the sign to Republic of Armenia became real in connection with celebration of the 1700th Anniversary of Christianity Proclamation in Armenia as state religion in 2001. The sign's proposal has been presented to the President of the Republic of Armenia, at that date Mr. R. Kocharyan. Together with this gift a special letter with congratulation on the Anniversary has been sent to the Catholicos of all Armenians Garegin II.

CBA contest

The special committee of Central Bank of Armenia handling the proposal announced the contest, entertained the offer among the other proposals and approved it together with the similar one. CBA Panel Ordinance declared to “accept the designs of Dram Symbol presented by K. Komendaryan and R. Arutchyan and forward it to the state organizations for official processing and standardization.”[2]

Offer by R. Arutchyan
Offer by V. Phenesyan

Other proposals

To the right are the designs for Dram Sign submitted to CBA contest by an artist R. Arutchyan and an architect V. Phenesyan respectively. The proposal by R. Arutchyan cognates with Euro sign shape and the proposal by V. Phenesyan is based on the first letter of Armenian word Փող (pronounced as "phokh") meaning "money".

10000 Dram Bill

Placement on Dram Bill

Since year 2003 the original shape of the Sign is present on the reverse side of 10,000 Armenian Dram bill. The bill’s other issuances took place in 2006 and 2008.

Placement on Dram coin

5000 Dram Coin

Since year 2008 the original shape of the Sign is present on the reverse side of 5,000 Armenian Dram Commemorative Coin.


The graphics of the symbol is based on the shape of the first letter of Armenian word "դրամ" (pronounced as "dram"). The transformation of the letter toward the monetary symbol is done in accordance with the graphics of the range of foreign monetary signs. As a result, the sign combines its Armenian origin with two strokes present in the majority of other monetary symbols.


The two principal international copyright conventions ( Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention) state that copyright starts at the time of a subject creation without respect to its registration time; thus, the shape acquired copyright when it was drafted in 1995. To ensure protection of authorship the requests have been sent to Armenian National Standards Institution and Copyright Bureau of Library of US Congress. However, the Article 6 of Law on Copyright and Neighboring Rights adopted by the National Assembly of Armenia on 8 December 1999, states that state emblems and signs are not considered as objects for copyright. Nevertheless, the sign appears to be one of the national attributes and is supposed to be treated as one of them.

The standard shape fixed by Armenian National Institute for Standards


There are standards, representing world currencies and Armenian character sets:

  • ISO 4217, Codes for the Representation of Currencies and Funds – defines the format of three-letter abbreviation for world currencies. To Armenian Dram is assigned AMD code.
  • Arm.Stand. 34.001-2006, Character Sets and Keyboards – defines Armenian characters encoding and keyboard layouts. The code for the Sign is 91 and shorthand is ‘armdram’.
  • Unicode 5.0 and ISO/IEC 10646, Joint standardization for coding multilingual text – has yet to encode the Sign.

Variations of design

Upon creation of Sign’s original shape a number of designs for it were developed to conform to the most popular font styles and their derivatives. In 2001 the designs together with the original shape were gifted to the Republic as templates for national font sets.
Below are presented three main samples, which, however, are not standard symbols.

In 2008 under the auspices of Ministry of Culture of Armenia and Microsoft-Armenia in National Book Chamber of Armenia took place "Granshan 2008" competition for the complete set of Armenian letters and characters, for which were developed styles for the Sign among the other characters and symbols.


The Sign’s official presentations have been conducted by author at the Central Bank of Armenia and at the first historical Congress of Armenian Technologies ArmTech 2007 in San-Francisco, north to Silicon Valley. Also, in order to promulgate it the author arranged lectures at American Corners of Yerevan and Gyumri, and Armenian State University of Economics in Yerevan and Yeghegnadzor[3].

In connection with celebration of 15th Anniversary of Armenian Dram in November 2008 the Central Bank of Armenia issued a commemorative coin with the Sign on the reverse side just against Noah’s Arch on the National Coat of Arms on obverse. The same year the Sign was widely populated in a number of local periodicals[4][5][6][7][8][9] and in a state university’s press[10][11].


  1. ^ Mouraviev, Serge (Сергей Муравьев). The Mystery of Mesrop Mashtots,“Literaturnaya Armenia” #2, Yerevan, 1985
  2. ^ Armenian Dram Sign Establishing Act, The Council of Central Bank of Armenia, Act #25 October 9, 2001
  3. ^ Komendaryan, Ken (Karen), The History of Dram, Dollar, Euro Monetary Symbols, lectures
  4. ^ The Road Passed by Armenian Dram, Newspaper of Union of Banks of Armenia #4, November, 2008
  5. ^ Komendaryan, Ken (Karen) Graphical Symbol for Armenian Dram, “Bazis”, First Armenian Economics Magazine #8-9, October-November, Yerevan 2008
  6. ^ Arzumanyan, Karen Symbol for Armenian Money, Delovoy Express”, Armenian Business Newspaper, #43, 21-28 November Yerevan 2008
  7. ^ Zakharyan, Violetta, Valjuntarizm, “Yerevan” Magazine, #12, December Ethnopress Armenia-Russia-USA 2008
  8. ^ A Monument to Currency, “Yerevan” Magazine, #12, December 2008
  9. ^ '“Economics” Economic, Public, Cultural Analytic Magazine #3 (9), Winter 2008-2009
  10. ^ Graphical Sign for Armenian Dram, “Tntesaget” official newspaper of Armenian State University of Economics, #9 (641), November 2008
  11. ^ '“Tntesaget” official newspaper of Armenian State University of Economics, #4 (645), April 2009

External links

Saint Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of Armenian Alphabet
Central Bank of Armenia
Union of Banks of Armenia
Union of Banks of Armenia Newspaper
15th Anniversary Commemorative Coin
Lecture on Dram, Dollar, Euro Monetary Symbols in Armenian, American Corner, Yerevan
Lecture on Dram, Dollar, Euro Monetary Symbols in English, American Corner, Gyumri


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