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During and after the First World War, money, especially small change, was in short supply. Metal was being used in the war efforts and people's natural tendancy to hold onto something of value, (ie) coins and banknotes, furthered the shortage. Eventually to get over this problem, the state bank (Reichbank) appears to have agreed to allow towns, villages and municipalities to issue their own money. These issues were emergency issues. The word not means emergency or necessity and geld means money, so notgeld means emergency money....... These highly collectable 'German gems', interesting old banknotes, with their different colourful motives and designs, can usually be found at flea markets etc. and will fascinate the collectors out there!!

Notgeld was issued by several countries, but this website is primarily interested in the notgeld issues of Germany.


The note above tells of a 'miracle' - the ploy of an abbey to get its coffers full again! (Full translations are available for my GNCC members)

('Notgeld'.....awaryjne pieniadze" i ich niemieckie wydania sa z lat 1914-1923. Wydawane byly glownie z powodu braku drobnych. Wiekszosc jest bardzo kolorowa i pieknie zaprojektowana. Kolekcjonerzy doceniaja ich rozmaitosc (serienscheine). Sa rozsadne w cenie, dlaczego wiec nie rozpoczac ich kolekcjonowania czy rozszerzyc dodatkowo kolekcji? Obecnie uzywam niemieckich nazw miast z ktorych pochodza, ale z czasem bede dodawal takze polskie nazwy miast.)


As time went on, more and more towns and villages jumped on the band wagon to print their own money, so that eventually, individual towns were able to produce notes that depicted their town's buildings or things that were important to their identity. If the town produced a commodity, eg) silk (Bielefeld), then the notes quite often depicted these manufacturing processes. In the above example, several of the Bielefeld notgeld issues were actually printed on silk and linen. Local 'heroes' could be depicted as could scenes from round and about. I am fascinated by the opportunity the local artists had to design money not burdened by the rules applied in designing official banknotes (with all the anti currency-fakers devices and tricks they need nowadays). Thus, the notgeld issues were also official documents, signed by the Burgermeister, commissioned by the city - they were not an individual artistic gesture, but a collective expression of feelings, fears, love for places and peoples, hatred against some ethnic groups or professions.....


So many of these notgeld were so colourful, that it was inevitable that collectors would soon become interested in them - investing time and effort in research and cataloguing and better understanding why they came about and why their issues were so prolific. Slight variants in the pieces make notgeld collecting so interesting!! (Can you spot the differences?)


 Apart from metal issues, notgeld was usually made of paper. Occasionally it was issued in other forms, including card, silk, linen, jute, chamois leather, leather, aluminium foil, velvet and by using such things as playing cards (spielkarton) or compressed coal dust (as below)!!


Issue numbers for these black/graphite compressed coal dust pieces were very limited. They issued:

    1. 100m - 2500 pieces
    2. 500m - 2500 pieces
    3. 1000m - 3500 pieces

(On the fronts of the 500m & 1000m pieces, is a man with 'S. 'F' on each side of him. I believe this stands for 'Sepp Frank').



Rothenbach fakeRothebach fakeback


At the beginning of the war, 1914, the notgeld issues were drab and bland, with many issues having been signed and counter signed by hand. Some early notes in my collection have 3 hand written signatures on them. In 1921, when the phenomenom was at it's height, thousands upon thousands of 'sets' were being produced.....to meet the demand from the collectors and not to meet the shortage of small change, the original purpose of notgeld issues.



Above scan shows a set of 3 typical 'serienscheine' pieces, issued by the town of Blumenthal - (Lm.117). Below is a much scarcer set of 3 issued in Lage - (Lm.737)



In 1923, notgeld became affected by the 'runaway'or hyper-inflation that had hit the German economy and so inflationary notgeld began to emerge. Notgeld were issued with face values of billions of marks (1 billion was 1,000,000,000,000)!!! Notgeld was usually only valid in its own town, but notes were excepted in other places as well, especially at the time of the high inflation. Sometimes notes travelled through the whole German Reich (empire), more than 600 miles.

If a German banknote has the word Reichsbanknote on it, then it has been issued by the state. This would be rather like an English banknote having been issued by the Bank of England. If it is a 'Reichsbanknote' then it is not a piece of notgeld ('local issues' - notes issued by towns and villages etc.etc.) Most notgeld will have the name of a town on it. Some will say something like this; Gutschein der Stadt.........Gutschein der Gemeinde......... Gutschein translates as 'voucher'.

I am sorry that I am unable to answer any emails which relate to either of the following..... 'normal' (not overprinted) Reichsbanknotes and/or coins!

The overprinted propaganda Reichsbanknotes have become an off-spin interest for me, so I welcome emails about those!

If you join my GNCC, there are topics for all types of notgeld, which other notgeld collectors will hopefully share in your interests. Me......just interested in paper issues of Germany between 1914-1923, with an original face value of 1000m or below. Every collector will have their own boundaries of what they collect. There are no rules with collecting. Collect what you like and how you like!! ENJOY THE NOTGELD COLLECTING HOBBY!!!

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