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Bielefeld Notgeld



The name Bielefeld is derived from the old name bileveld, which means "hilly field".

The Bielefeld town savings bank (stadtsparkasse) issued many of its notgeld pieces on paper (as usual notgeld issues were) but pieces were also issued by them that were made of materials (stoffgeld) such as linen, silk, jute and velvet. Many of these issues had lace and embroidery edging which were quite elaborate. Surely, most collectors would keep these lovely pieces, rather than redeeming them at their face value, thought the town savings bank? (A bright idea the bank director, Paul Hanke, had come up with to boost their coffers!!).

The top note depicted here is made of a fine linen cloth and is of the value 1/2 a goldmark. The 2nd note depicted shows the reverse of the note, but has been taken from the paper issue. The last note shows the obverse of the 1Goldmark note. The reverse is similar to the half goldmark note but has the orange/yellow/purple colours. The child holding the turnip, is a reference to the many turnip fields that were in this area. The Bielefeld turnip fields had played an important role in feeding the population, especially in the hard winter months of the war. The date of issue for the notes was 24 November 1923. They have a redemption date on the reverse of 16-31.3.1924.

I currently have 8 different paper wertbestandiges pieces, 6 different fine linen wertbestandiges pieces, 8 different velvet pieces, 8 different jute/sacking material and 69 different linen and silk pieces, some with different edgings ..... .........all from Bielefeld. I have 143 different pieces in total issued in Bielefeld. My favourite pieces of Bielefeld stoffgeld though, are the silk/linen 100m pieces, of which I had over 100 different! (Most are sold now to another collector, but there are still several interesting pieces in my shop - have a look and you might find something that you really like! Some are seen as 'more common' than others so the prices are not too expensive. There are some rare pieces I collected though and the prices of those are much higher...........but inline with market values of course). These 100m pieces of silk and linen, were issued to celebrate the 700 year (1221-1921) jubilee celebrations of the city of Bielefeld on 15 July 1921. Bielefeld did not issue any leather notgeld pieces.

If you see the letters 'P.RRUST.' on some of the notes, small hole-punched through the paper, it stands for the names of the 3 Bielefeld Buergermeisters, Paul PRiess, Wagner Horst RUscher & Rudolf STapenhorst. These pieces that are hole-punched/stamped would only be made of paper. I have never seen a material piece with the hole-punched name. This variation makes these types very collectable. If you can get a 'normal' paper example, a paper hole-punched/stamped piece and a stoffgeld piece in your collection, next to each other, they look superb! Below is a paper 10 millionen mark example with 'P.RRUST' stamped through it.....and alongside it, a piece made of linen showing the reverse side of the design/note.



(Paul Priess was deputy mayor from 1911 until 1932, when he became mayor of Bielefeld until his death in 1935.

'Max' Ruscher was deputy mayor for finance until 1922/23.

Dr. Rudolf Stapenhorst was mayor of Bielefeld from 1910 until 1932. He left the office in the turmoils at the end of the Weimar Republic and died 1944 in a bombing raid).

info in parenthesis above, supplied to me by the Bielefeld sparkasse archive

There is a book which shows some of these notes in colour entitled 'Das Geld der mageren Jahre', written by Guenter Gerke - (The currency of the meagre years). A couple of the illustrated embroidered pieces were made specifically for the town saving's bank director, Paul Hanke. (The following picture is believed to be a young Paul Hanke, but we do not know for the moment..........our research continues.....)!



Those very special pieces, were made for his own personal collection and as such, are fairly unique and very expensive when they come up for sale at auction! Quite often stories and papers will be found, telling of Hanke's texts.......... how famous the Bielefeld material notgeld became and what a tremendous success it was. There is even a 'legend' of how Hanke used silk for the first cloth notes, which was originally intended for a nightgown for the Russian tsarina!




Some of the graphics on the pieces issued by the Bielefeld Stadtsparkasse are very hard to deceipher. Often, to understand what the pictures are all about takes a lot of studying and research. The following 4 pieces are not too bad to identify. They have pictures that represent some of the bank's senior management: Heringshaus (picture of a herring and the letters 'haus', Brueggemann ('Brugge' followed by a picture of a man), Horn & Hanke!! (Look at the 4 small picture/ Hahn = cockerel, so you really get Hahnke for Hanke). 2 other names, that appear in 'hidden' text on the notgeld are also mentioned - Ruescher, the Bielefeld Buergermeister (Mayor) and Jockusch, who was the administration's legal advisor (lawyer).



The following info and translations have been provided by GNCC member, John Adams:


Translations (obverse) of Bielefeld Verkehrsausgaben 1917-19

Red 25 Pfennig note (1st July 1917)



PARIS 1870 / 71


PARIS 1870 / 71


1 Pfd Pferdefl. 12 Fr.

1 Pfd Kartoffeln 8 Fr.

Eine Katze       18 Fr.

1 Hühnerei         3 Fr.

1 Pfd. Rindfl. 230 Pf.

1 Pfd. Kartoffeln 7 Pf.

1 Pfund Brot     25 Pf.

1 Hühnerei         28 Pf.

1 lb. horsemeat 12 francs

1 lb. potatoes 8 francs

A cat 18 francs

1 hen’s egg 3 francs

1 lb. beef          230 Pfennigs

1 lb. potatoes       7 Pfennigs

1 pound of bread 25 Pfennigs

1 hen’s egg         28 Pfennigs

The rhyme reads : Kriegsnotgeld ist dies Papier / bis 1920 ersten vier / Es nehmen an in grossen Massen / dies Geld auch alle städtischen Kassen (This paper is emergency war money / until the first of the fourth 1920 / This money will also be accepted in great amounts by all town cashiers)

Green 10 Pfennig note (1st April 1919)


Für Lebensmittel 50 Millionen Mark

Fleischwaren 21,5 Millionen Mark

Fettwaren 7,3 Millionen Mark

Kartoffeln 6,0 Millionen Mark

Allerlei Gemüse 4,0 Millionen Mark

Mehl und Dosenfrüchte* 7,0 Millionen Mark

Futter, Kleidung, Kohlen 4,0 Mill. M.


For foodstuffs 50 million Marks

Meat products 21.5 million Marks

Animal and vegetable fats 7.3 million marks

Potatoes 6.0 million Marks

Vegetables, all varieties 4.0 million marks

Flour and canned fruit 7.0 million Marks

Animal food, clothing, coal 4.0 million Marks


                                                    [*NB bottom right mis-spelling füchte]

The rhyme reads : Kriegsnotgeld ist dies Papier / bis 1920 ersten vier / Es nehmen an in grossen Massen / dies Geld auch alle städtischen Kassen (This paper is emergency war money / until the first of the fourth 1920 / This money will also be accepted in great amounts by all town cashiers)


Purple 10 Pfennig note (1st April 1919)


in BIELEFELD.    Akkord :      Zeitlohn :

  1. £ Mark 0,63 £ Mark 0,63
  2. £ Mark 1,73 £ Mark 1,27

Im Januar 1919 £ Mark 2,29 £ Mark 1,91

Steigerung …..      263 Proz. £ 202 Proz.

           AVERAGE WAGE for workers

in BIELEFELD.  Piece rate :     Hourly rate :

1st October 1914 £ 0.63 Mark   £ 0.63 Mark

1st October 1918 £ 1.73 Mark   £ 1.27 Mark

In January 1919 £ 2.29 Mark   £ 1.91 Mark

Increase …..         263 percent £ 202 percent

The rhyme reads : Kriegsnotgeld ist dies Papier / bis 1921 ersten vier / Es nehmen an in grossen Massen / dies Geld auch alle städtischen Kassen (This paper is emergency war money / until the first of the fourth 1921 / This money will also be accepted in great amounts by all town cashiers)

Orange 25 Pfennig note (1st April 1919)

Löhne i. Preußisch. ££££ Heer ££££

1914 jährlich Mark

Gemeiner       252

Unteroffizier   576

Sergeant         792

Vizefeldwebel 900

Feldwebel     1224

Löhne in der Reichs-

££££ wehr £££££

1919 jährlich Mark

Gemeiner       1080

Unteroffizier   1764

Sergeant         1998

Vizefeldwebel 2088

Feldwebel       2340

     Wages in Prussian  

       ££££ Army ££££

1914 per annum in Marks

Private                     252

Corporal                       576

Sergeant                     792

Colour Sergeant        900

Sergeant Major       1224

   Wages in the Reichs-

     ££££ wehr £££££

1919 per annum in Marks

Private                      1080

Corporal                    1764

Sergeant                   1998

Colour Sergeant     2088

Sergeant Major         2340

Außerdem die Kleidung, Beköstigung

£££££££ und Wohnung £££££££

In addition clothing, board

£££££££ and housing £££££££

The rhyme reads : Kriegsnotgeld ist dies Papier / bis 1921 ersten vier / Es nehmen an in grossen Massen / dies Geld auch alle städtischen Kassen (This paper is emergency war money / until the first of the fourth 1921 / This money will also be accepted in great amounts by all town cashiers)

The following scan shows another piece of Bielefeld stoffgeld. It has a face value of 500m and is 1 of 3. The 3 different pieces (you can get a set of 3 made of linen and a set of 3 made of silk) have small verses down the left handside of the reverse. They have a preceding number of either 1,2 or 3. The note is dated 1.7.1923 and can come with the stamp mark or without it.

Bielefeld 500m linen (verse '3') - GP42c

The following article was submitted by one of my long term GNCC members, notgeld colleague and very knowledgeable friend, Kim Zbitnew:


The central illustration is the figure of a woman carrying bags of money, exposing her breasts,
while men look on with lust. Underneath is some text: 
“Dich lieben wir börse, vielmehr als die verse“, which means
“We love you, bourse, rather than the verse”

The verse in question is indicated below the figure in small letters below, and is a quotation 
from the Holy Bible, Matthew 23:17, which says: “You blind fools, which is greater, the gold, 
or the temple that makes the gold sacred?”

The left illustration is an impoverished looking man, and around the illustration are references 
to two verses of the Holy Bible: 
Jeremiah 2:16 “Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved the crown of your head”, and
Job 16:11 “God has turned me over to evil men and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked”
The right illustration is a figure representing President Woodrow Wilson, holding a “dollar sack”
Above it says “Frieden vorschlag” (Peace Proposal) and below “Wilson 1918”. 

Around this figure are two references to the Holy Bible:
Habbakuk 3:16 “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound, decay crept into my
bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come 
on the nation invading us”, and 
Habbakuk 3:10 “The mountains saw you and writhed; Torrents of water swept by; 
the deep roared and lifted its waves on high”.

The central illustration is of naked people trampling over stricken Germany and Austria, dancing around a statue of a golden calf. Above the calf is the figure of someone with a bag, money coming out of his pockets and floating to the ground. Under the 2 value indicators of 500 are a total of 6 'M's,
with the cynical comment: 'Many Men Make Mighty Mouths Mobile'. Next to that at the side in the border is :
'To be German means to be good, faithful
and pure, to fight for freedom
Truth and Right.'

The left illustration is a naked figure passing by a sack of Dollars; the sky is cloudy and there are palm trees and a ladder going into the sky. Around the figure it says 'The dollar rises', dollar 4.2 mark 1914, 118,000 Mark 1923 (The notes catalogued Grabowski-Mehl 103.16 say 4650 Mark 1922). The left illustration is a naked figure beside a sack of Pounds, the sky is sunny and there are palm trees in the background. Around the figure it says: 'The egg rises afterwards. An egg, 5 pf. 1914, 1500 Mark 1923' (the notes catalogued Grabowski-Mehl 103.16 say 30 Mark 1922). The words at the top of the back say: “Wenn die menschen aller sorten tanzen um die goldnen kalber, halte sest, du hast am ende doch vom leben nur dich selber“, which mean: “If people of all kinds dance to the golden calf, stop, you have at the end of your life only yourself.” The reference here is to the story in the Holy Bible in the book of Exodus. The backs of the notes have different texts in the sidebars. On the left sidebars is a series of three extracts from an author, named (I believe) Johanna Wolff. They are numbered 1, 2 and 3. Here is the German followed by a rough English translation: 1. Ich hatte einst ein schönes Vaterland, Da liegt mein Saitenspiel, ich habs zerschlagen; Wenn sie mich draußen nach der heimatfragen, Ich winke müde, müde mit der hand Und sage abgewandt: Ich hatte ein schönes Vaterland. 1. I once had a beautiful homeland, There lies my lyre, I have broken it; If they ask me outside about the homeland, I wave tiredly, tiredly with my hand and say turned away: I had a beautiful homeland. 2. Ich hatte einst ein schönes Vaterland Wer wollte noch mit Stolz von Deutschland sprechen; Der Gram will mir das herz, die Odem brechen; Ich lehn den grauen Kopf an fremde Wand, Faß meines kindes hand: Wir hatten einst ein schönes Vaterland 2. I once had a beautiful homeland Who wanted to speak with pride of Germany; Grief will break my heart and spirit; I lean my gray head on the unfamiliar wall, Holding onto my children’s hand: We had once a beautiful homeland 3. Und dennoch lieb ich dich mein Deutsches Land! Wach auf mein kind, für Deutschland sollst du leben Um die zertretne Heimat aufzuheben Deutsch sind wir beide, Sohn! Frei seis bekannt; Trotz Schmach und Schand, Wir haben doch ein Deutsches Vaterland 3. And yet I love you my German Land! Awake my child, for Germany shall you live and the trampled homeland will be lifted up We are both German, son! Free be known; Despite reproach and shame, we still have a German Fatherland On the right sidebars, the text is as follows. The numbers refer to the number on the left sidebar. The original German is followed by a rough English translation, except for #3: 1. Deutsch sein heißt gut sein, treu sein und echt, kämpfen fur freiheit, Wahrheit und Recht German means good, loyal and true, to fight for freedom, truth and justice 2. Streben laßt uns, Immerzu streben, stärker und reiner; Jede Minute, die wir leben, fällt draußen einer. Jede Minute, die wir nicht nützen, wird uns zum Kläger; Dankbar denkt derer, die unsbeschützen als Bannerträger Let us strive, constantly striving, stronger and purer; Every minute, that we live, falls outside. Every minute, that we are not useful, will make us those plaintiffs; Thankfully thinking of those, our protectors like standard bearers. 3. Another quotation from the Holy Bible 1 Corinthians 9:9 - 'For it is written in the law of Moses: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. Is it about oxen that God is concerned?'

One of the scarcest stoffgeld pieces I have ever come across!
The piece depicting Samson between the 2 pillars usually has a face-value of 5000m. This piece is for 1000m, usually on pieces that have the animal orchestra depicted on them (yellow and green variants). This example, I have been told, is worth around 13,000 euros!! (2009).



Today, 25th April 2018, I am finally confirming that the piece shown above is a 'modern' digital copy / forgery / replica piece! We now have scientific evidence provided by x-ray florescence testing (XRF)!!

The material is a modern glossy one and the size of the 'box' with the thick black border is smaller in size than on all genuine and 'true' pieces. My experience and thoughts initially told me this was not a 'proper' piece and this has now also been confirmed by Joseph E.Boling, another very well known banknote expert and member of the IBNS.

(My catalogue on these types 'MATERIAL GEMS' has now been amended and corrected and re-published, with a revised date of APRIL 2018. I can't see that I will be updating this publication anymore. The latest revised edition also includes all other 100m material pieces that I have found to date, that were not contained in the previous publication. The publication now catalogues over 200 different pieces!! This very shiny piece is the only known non-genuine Bielefeld material 100m type).

The difference in 'box' size can be seen in the following scans, where only the top note in each scan is the modern replica/forgery piece!





Other differences do exist, eg) the differences in the micro-printing, but I won't go into those in full detail here......

The following scans are another 'set' of less common notes issued in Bielefeld but only in paper and not material. Market valuations for such pieces start at around the 25 euros each average price, so they are not too expensive a set to try and attain.


All the pieces above have got a serial number, except the 5 milliarde note, so that is much more valuable to a collector, as it should have one!
The note below has no serial number and is badly mis-printed, so again, a very desirable note for a collector!