Amongst other things, the sudden shortage of coinage, brought on by the beginning of WWI, forced many German villages, towns and cities to issue emergency money (notgeld). These early notgeld issues of 1914 (& 1915) tend to be quite drab and plain, compared to notgeld from the other categories. The following 4 pieces from Deutsch Eylau are made of card and are fairly scarce. The words ‘Gott mit uns!’, translates as ‘God is with us!’. In the war, a story told was that the Germans stuck a sign up facing the Brits that said ‘Gott mit uns!’. The Brits then stuck a sign up facing the Germans that said ‘We got mittens too!’ (You’ve got to laugh……). ‘Gultig’ translates as ‘valid’, so here, valid for 50pf or 1m etc. If you see ‘ungultig’ on your notgeld issues, then they are not valid (ie) they have been ‘cancelled’.
All collectors of notgeld will see that the notgeld issues do very often try to make light of a desperate situation…primarily the war, then the state of the economy and the hardships faced and finally, the actual notgeld issues themselves!!
The printing tended to be undecorative, with only simple printing processes being followed. Usually they have a hand-written signature (or one made from a rubberised stamp) and an official stamp on them, usually the authority behind the note. Quite often, issues consisted of a 50pf note and a 1m, 2m & 5m piece……a basic set of 4 notes. These notes would usually be of a similar design but could, for example, be in different coloured texts. (Muehlhausen set below). I would suggest that almost all 1914 issues are fairly scarce, with some issues being ‘used up’. The notgeld shortage was however short lived. A few years after the start of WWI (1916/17), a new and severe shortage of small change again, resulted in a second wave of notgeld being issued. The collector should note, that there are very limited issues of notgeld dated 1915 – 16 and well below the ones dated 1914.
In 1914, 452 localities issued 5,500 notes, all with short validity periods. Today, these early notgeld issues are highly collected by notgeld enthusiasts and can fetch some very high prices, depending on scarcity and condition. If you come across issues from 1914 (& 1915), I suggest one adds them to one’s collection and replace them if a better specimen comes your way.
(You can always contact me with any duplicates you have for sale, as I always have collectors trying to better their notgeld collections with more of these types).
The above picture shows a note issued in Eidelstedt, issued on green paper and unusually date-stamped 16 Jan. 1915. (There are not too many notgeld with a date of 1915).