Zaur Zugumov in his book “Russian jargon. Historical and etiological explanatory dictionary of the underworld" claims that the word “grandmothers” in the meaning of “money” was used mainly by young people back in pre-revolutionary times in recent times. But if the time of the emergence of this jargon among linguists is beyond doubt (namely, the fact that “grandmothers” appeared not in the 1990s, but in the royal era), then the story of his birth still has several versions.
According to one of the most common assumptions, money began to be called "grandmothers" thanks to new banknotes that were issued in the second half of the 19th century. Then, for the first time, portraits of emperors and empresses were printed on paper banknotes. Catherine II "got" a denomination of 100 conventional units. Long before that, Catherine was dubbed by the people as "grandmother." This is confirmed by the historian N. Sindalovsky in his article "Money in recent history and in the urban folklore of St. Petersburg."
However, a connoisseur of the current language, a poet, writer and contemporary of this jargon, Vsevolod Krestovsky, in the novel "Petersburg Slums" assured that "grandmothers" were originally called several sheaves put together. A similar definition of the concept of "grandmother" was given by the famous linguist Vladimir Dal. According to Krestovsky, due to the fact that earlier wealth in peasant families was calculated exclusively by the harvest, the number of "grandmothers", money was gradually dubbed this way.
The term "five-hatka", according to the book "Youth slang: an explanatory dictionary" by T. Nikitina, as well as the "Dictionary of youth slang" by L. Zakharova and A. Shuvaeva, is still used by young people to refer to banknotes with a denomination of 500 conventional units. In order to find out the etymology of the word "five-hatka", one should again return to the 100-ruble banknote with a portrait of Catherine the Great.
The linguist Yu. Shinkarenko, in his article published in the monthly magazine Ural, entitled “On the deck of the Argo, or the Campaign for Power”, notes that the hundredth bill of the 19th century was called “katerinka” or “katerinka”. Consequently, 5 "Catherines" or "katek" were 500 conventional units. Hence the “five”, which eventually turned into a “five”.
The Russian linguist D. Ushakov, in his own “Explanatory Dictionary of the Current Language,” wrote that a mower is “a credit note worth 1,000 standard units.” The emergence of this word in the current language of Soviet citizens was again due to the release of new banknotes, which took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, a few years after the revolution. Then, thanks to huge inflation, the state decided to print 1000-th bills. The inscriptions on them were made diagonally, for which the people dubbed them "oblique" or "mowers".
It is worth noting that later, not only banknotes with a denomination of 1000 conditional units, but also 100 rubles were called “mowers”. Proof of this is an excerpt from the book by the Weiner brothers "The Era of Mercy", where Smoked invites Zheglov to play billiards on the "striped", that is, on 50 conventional units.