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Notgeld album


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Germany's central bank struggled during the First World War with high inflation and metal shortages that hampered the production of coins. In response to this, local municipalities, businesses, trade organizations, and some individuals began to produce their own emergency paper currency or notgeld. Early examples of notgeld were simple in design and of crude manufacture, but as the practice caught on, the quality of printing and the sophistication of their design grew. Following the end of the First World War, notgeld actually expanded in popularity, even as the original economic impetus declined. Between 1918 and 1922, notgeld became valued more as a collectible than as actual currency and is often referred to as Sammlerscheine or collector's notes for this reason. Sammlerscheine features particularly rich illustrations and was often made in sets that depicted folk tales, historic events, or attractions from the region of production. Hyperinflation in 1922 and 1923 brought back the need to use notgeld as currency, with production expanding to as many as 4,000 different issuers during this period. Hyperinflation peaked towards the end of 1923, with some notgeld printed in denominations in the trillions of Marks. This crisis finally ended in 1924 when the Reichsbank fixed the value of the newly issued Rentenmark to the value of gold, which both stabilized the currency and removed the principle reason for notgeld.

This album appears to have been made specifically for collecting and displaying these notes, with the words "Notgeld-Album" inscribed in gold on the cover and the pages designed with rows of pockets in which to store the notes. The pockets have been used to arrange the notes in distinct sets and allow for the notes to be easily removed for better viewing. The name, "Georg Fenner," is written on the inside cover.

This album contains 337 examples of notgeld, or "emergency money," produced between 1916 and 1922 by various German municipalities, companies, and individuals. These currency notes are richly illustrated with depictions of landmarks, folklore, historical figures and events, including some with descriptive text. The album is predominately made up of serienscheine or "collectors notes," which are distinguished by their high quality and that many of the notes were issued in themed sets. For instance, one set in this album is of six 50 pfennig notes made in 1921 from the town of Hameln and depicts the folktale of the Pied Piper. Another set of notgeld is of six 75 pfennig notes made in 1922 that commemorates Germany's colonies in Africa, which appear to have been made by a trade organization (The Hanseatic League) from the region of Hamburg, Berlin, and Bremen. The notes are all in excellent condition.

Sold by Wolfgang Ruger, 2022

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kenneth Cleary
Finding Aid Date
2023 September 5
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This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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