Notgeld Categories, Vol. 5: 1922 Inflation Notgeld

This is the fifth 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.

1922 Inflation Notgeld

Between 1914 and 1918, the exchange rate of the Papiermark against the US dollar declined steadily from 4.2 to 7.9 marks per dollar—an early indication of the severe postwar inflation that was to follow.

By the end of 1919, the value of the mark had depreciated to the point where it took 48 marks to purchase a single US dollar due to the demands outlined in the Treaty of Versailles, which obligated Germany to pay a substantial sum in war reparations to the victors of World War I. The first payment
came due in June 1921.

Starting in August 1921, Rudolf Havenstein, the president of the Reichsbank, implemented a reckless strategy of purchasing foreign currency with marks at any cost, exacerbating the rapid devaluation of the mark to about 320 marks per dollar by the middle of 1922.

In an effort to try and restore confidence in the official Papiermark and the Government, a ban on all forms of Notgeld was issued on July 17th, 1922. There were a series of international reparations conferences held during this time, but ultimately a resolution could not be reached and the Reparations Commission declared Germany in default, further weakening the Papiermark. The inability of the Central Government to print and distribute the necessary higher denominations quickly enough resulted in the ban on Notgeld being reversed.

1922 Inflation Notgeld feature a very wide range of denominations, generally starting around 5 Mk up until 100,000 Mk or higher. These notes are often much larger in size than other categories of notgeld, and most were intended for circulation.

Occasionally these were overprinted on older Serienscheine and Großnotgeld notes with new denominations. In general, these overprinted notes are much more scarce than their non-overprinted counterparts, but some notable exceptions exist like the Serienscheine set from Altrahlstedt (No. 31.1) that is much more valuable and scarce without the overprint than the same notes with the overstamp, which are much more common.

The boundaries between 1922 Inflation Notgeld and other categories of notgeld can sometimes overlap or be a little blurry. One of the best ways to learn about, and better familiarize yourself with, these notes is to buy a copy of Manfred Müller’s catalog Die Notgeldscheine der deutschen Inflation: von August 1922 bis Juni 1923.

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