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Notgeld or “Emergency Money”

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

Notgeld is German for "emergency money" or "necessity money" refers to money issued by an institution in a time of economic or political crisis. The issuing institution is usually one without official sanction from the central government.

Issuing institutions could be a town's savings banks, municipality and private or state-owned firms.

Notgeld was released even before Germany entered World War I. Citizens fearful of losing their wealth began hoarding the coins in the days before war was declared. Collectors tend to categorize by region or era rather than issuing authority (see below). Notgeld is different from occupation money that is issued by an occupying army during a war.

In 1922, inflation started to get out of control in Germany, culminating in hyperinflation. Throughout the year, the value of the mark deteriorated faster and faster and new money in higher denominations was issued constantly.The Reichsbank could not cope with the logistics of providing the necessary supply of money, and Notgeld was again issued—this time in denominations of hundreds and then thousands of Marks.

By July 1923, the Reichsbank had lost control of the economy. Notgeld flooded the economy, being issued by any city, town, business, or club that had access to a printing press, in order to meet the insatiable rise in prices. Even Serienscheine were being hand-stamped with large denominations to meet the demand. By September, Notgeld was denominated in the tens of millions; by October, in billions; by November, trillions

Collectors of Notgeld will create different types of collections. Some people collect notes by one city - perhaps Bavaria or Brandenburg. Another is topics shown on notes: maps, ships, animals, sports, windmills, theme, etc. Other collectors just want notes that they like for their own reasons! There are many Notgeld notes still in existence and, as will all collectibles, the more common ones are still affordable.

For further reading on Notgeld:

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