Notgeld Categories, Vol. 2: Circulating Notes, Small Denomination / Verkehrsausgaben, 1915 - 1922

This is the second in a series of seven posts where we will describe each primary category of notgeld, provide some historical context, share some examples, and provide some tips on how to identify and differentiate one category from another.

Circulating Notes, Small Denomination / Verkehrsausgaben, 1915 - 1922

Several factors came together to create a need for the issuance of new emergency money beginning in late 1915. The continued war effort would exacerbate the monetary shortages and economic challenges being faced by the German Reichsbank. While the production of new small denomination coins, made from cheaper metals, had initially been successful enough to negate the need for the Notgeld of 1914 / 1915, eventually those cheaper metals became vital to the creation of war supplies, causing official coin and paper money production to cease once again.

The earlier notes in this category were often
pretty similar looking to the first wave of notgeld that began in 1914—very simple, handmade and sometimes inconsistent designs. One of the tricky things about collecting Verkehrsausgaben is that sometimes these notes are missing very important and basic details, such as the location name or issuing authority missing completely, making them very difficult to identify. This is especially common for privately issued notes.

The need for these new circulating notgeld would continue on until the middle of 1919, but production of the notes would continue on at the same pace until well in to 1922 despite the official production of small denomination coins resuming to near normal levels. While all Verkehrsausgaben notes were originally intended for circulation, many of the earlier Verkehrsausgaben notes exhibit signs of heavy circulation and later notes are often found in ‘About Uncirculated’ condition or better.

The designs of these notes continued to evolve. What started out as crudely made objects of necessity would eventually become more elaborate, colorful and illustrative, appealing to a growing number of citizens who had begun to collect notgeld with great enthusiasm.

The face values of these Verkehrsausgaben typically range from 1 Pf to 1 Mk. Dr. Arnold Keller referred to notes of this size as Kleingeldscheine (Small change notes), while notes with larger denominations of 1 Mk and up were referred to as Grossgeldscheine (High value notes).

There are two good options for catalogs if you’re interested in collecting Verkehrsausgaben. The first is Kleingeldersatz aus Papier, “Verkehrsaugaben” 1915 - 1922 by Reinhard Tieste. This publication is a two volume, large format, full color and very thorough catalog which includes all private issues. The second catalog is titled Deutsche Kleingeldscheine: Amtliche Verkehrsausgaben 1916 - 1922 by Hans-Ludwig Grabowski. This publication also two volumes and is printed in full color. The overall size is smaller (A5) and does not contain private issues. It is also a very useful and well-made catalog. I own both and use them often.

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