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German Banknotes

The first German Bank notes were not issued until around 1875 and were called Reichskassensheine (Imperial Treasury notes) and continued to be issued up to 1906. 

Reichsbanknote (Imperial Bank Notes) were issued soon after in 1876 and continued to be issued up to 1924. 


From 1914 to  1922 Darlehenskassenscheine (State Loan Currency Notes) were also issued. 

The German hyperinflation following World War I is probably the most famous of all inflationary tales.  Money had be carried around by the suitcase load. The table below gives a good illustration of how bad this was.


August 1920
January 1923
July 1923
October 1923
November 1923

1.2 Marks
700 Marks
100,000 Marks
670,000,000 Marks
80,000,000,000 Marks

Because prices were rising faster than the German government could print money many towns, companies and even the railways resorted to printing their own currency. Some of these notes had values of up to 100,000,000,000,000 marks. These notes are known as notgeld (emergency money) and they usually depicted their town's buildings, industry or local people and in many cases were only valid in the town that produced them. 


During this period there were two main types of inflationary banknote printed. Standard Reichsbanknote and those known as notgeld. The Reichsbanknotes were issued by the central bank in Berlin, while notgeld was printed by city banks, small towns, and all manner of public body’s. 


If you collect or have any Reichsbanknotes from this period you will no doubt have noticed that a lot are only printed one side because there was not time to print both sides, and some notes have one value plus an overprint of a much higher value. This was because notes were being printed but had become of no value before they could be issued. So instead of printing new ones they just overprinted the old ones.


The Rentenmark was issued in November 1923 as a replacement of the Deutsche Mark to stop the hyperinflation. It was subdivided into 100 Rentenpfennig and Rentenpfennig coins were issued dated 1923, 1924 and 1925 in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50.


The Rentenmark was only meant as temporary currency but it was accepted by the population and stopped the inflation. 


One Rentenmark was worth 1 Trillion Marks and continued to circulate after 1924 with the  last Rentenmark notes being valid until 1948.


Currency Reform took place in 1924 with the Reichsmark again being issued with one Reichsmark equal to one Rentenmark.


In 1948 the Deutschmark replaced the Reichsmark that had been the official currency of Germany since the founding of The Federal Republic of Germany. The first German mark coins were also issued in 1948. 


The Deutsche Mark was the official currency of West Germany from 1948 to1990 and then of the unified Germany until swopping to the euro 2002. The Deutsche Mark was divided into 100 Pfennigs. 


English people referred to it as the Deutschmark but the Germans generally just called it the D Mark.


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