Throwback Thursday: Notgeld, German Emergency Currency

If all money looked this pretty, I’d definitely be more apt to save it.

The images presented below represent a selection from Lliazd’s unbelievably expansive Flickr set of Notgeld, which was German emergency currency used during the post-WWI years. Lliazd’s provides us with an in-depth look into the personal, political, and aesthetic significance of these images on his Flickr page:

walter-muller-notgeld_skaliertAfter 800 years of life in the same region, my wife’s family left Germany. In 1935 Nazism had become unbearable. They were lucky enough to understand the risk it posed for Jews living in Germany and they left. Until then, her family was part of a comfortable and prosperous middle class, involved in the tobacco business in the city of Karlsruhe.

At the end of the First World War her grandfather started collecting Notgeld produced by many German and Austrian towns and companies to make front to deflation first and inflation later with the objective of providing stability to workers and residents. Notgeld (emergency currency) was issued by cities, boroughs, even private companies while there was a shortage of official coins and bills. Nobody would pay in coins while their nominal value was less than the value of the metal. And when inflation went on, the state was just unable to print bills fast enough. Some companies couldn’t pay their workers because the Reichsbank just couldn’t provide enough bills. So they started to print their own money – they even asked the Reichsbank beforehand. As long as the Notgeld was accepted, no real harm was done and it just was a certificate of debt. Often it was even a more stable currency than real money, as sometimes the denomination was a certain amount of gold, dollars, corn, meat, etc.

They made it very pretty on purpose: many people collected the bills, and the debt would never have to be paid. It was printed on all kinds of materials: leather, fabric, porcelain, silk, tin foil. (Read more HERE)

Behold, the beauty of Notgeld:

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Notgeld25Pf

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One response to “Throwback Thursday: Notgeld, German Emergency Currency

  1. This is amazing.. there are some other examples at the Berlin – Deutsches Historisches Museum
    http://www.dhm.de/
    It’s an very interesting period as the ‘no geld’ inflation era allowed extreme groups and nazis to blame the Jewish population for their financial problems..

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