A LOOK AT GERMAN INFLATION

1914 - 1924

A "National Coin Week"  exhibit by Joel Anderson
The German hyperinflation following World War I, though not the worst hyperinflation in the 20th Century (that honor belongs to Hungary 1945-46 and Yugoslavia 1992-94), is certainly the most famous. Stories abound of people carrying money in wheelbarrows. Actually wheelbarrows were rarely, if ever used to carry money. Suitcases were the preferred method of transport.

The inflation was triggered by a huge increase in the nation's money supply, caused in part by the heavy demands of the reparations placed upon Germany following its loss in World War I. Soon an inflationary mentality set in. Merchants would raise prices automatically. People would hoard goods, figuring the price would go up, thus causing shortages. The vast quantities of money were issued not only by the German central bank (The Reichsbank), but also by numerous communities, cities, states and companies, only compounded the inflation.

Much to the unhappiness of those who think they may have found a fortune in grandma's trunk, the money of this period is no longer valid. However it does form a fascinating collecting area where many items can be acquired at modest prices. Most notes sell for between $1 and $3 in average condition.



1914
10 Pfennig 1914
10 Pfennig, Copper-Nickel
Would buy dozen eggs
or 2 pounds of potatoes.
Bread is 13 Pfennig for a 1 pound loaf.

The Copper-Nickel 10 Pfennig was introduced in 1873 as part of the German Empires first unified coinage. It would continue to be struck until 1916,

WORLD WAR I STARTS.
GERMANY INVADES BELGIUM AND FRANCE


1916
10 Pfennig 1916
10 Pfennig, Iron
Would buy 2 Eggs or 1 Pounds of Potatoes.
Bread is 19 Pfennig a loaf.

Due to the demands of the War, iron and zinc were substituted for Copper-Nickel in the 5 and 10 Pfennig coins.

HEAVY FIGHTING ALONG THE WESTERN FRONT RESULTS IN TREMENDOUS CASUALTIES ON BOTH SIDES WITH FEW TERRITORIAL CHANGES.

THE BRITISH USE TANKS IN BATTLE FOR THE FIRST TIME.


1918
1/2 Mark 1918
Mark, Silver
Would buy 1 Dozen Eggs,
5 Pounds of Potatoes or a pound of Meat
Bread is 22 Pfennig a loaf.

Because of coin hoarding caused by the war and increasing inflation, these silver coins rarely circulated. Germany would discontinue the silver Mark in 1919.

KAISER WILLIAM II ABDICATES.
ARMISTICE IS SIGNED.
HOSTILITIES CEASE ON NOVEMBER 11, 1918


1919
Sinzig 50 Pfennig 1919
50 Pfennig, Iron, issued by the City of Sinzig
Would buy a pound of Sugar or
4 Pounds of Potatoes
Bread is 26 Pfennig a loaf.

This coin is part of an extensive series of coins and notes issued by various cities, towns, communities and companies that is commonly called "Notgeld".

Originally the notgeld issues were made to help relieve the coin shortage caused by the war and coin hoarding. Towns soon found that making "Notgeld" was an easy way to raise funds and many later issues were made to be sold to collectors.

A HARSH PEACE TREATY THAT INCLUDES HEAVY DEMANDS FOR REPARATIONS IS IMPOSED ON GERMANY



1920
1 Mark 1920
1 Mark, Paper Money
Would buy Dozen Eggs or a pound of flour.
Bread is 1.20 Mark a loaf.

The 1 Mark note, called a "State Loan Currency Note" was not backed by reserves or hard assets. It contains an embossed seal as an anti-counterfeiting device.

RIOTS TAKE PLACE IN BERLIN AND THE RUHR.


1921
50 Pfennig 1921
50 Pfennig, aluminum.
Would buy 2 Eggs, 1/8 Pound of sugar or
Pound of potatoes.
Bread is 1.35 Mark a loaf

The aluminum 50 Pfennig was introduced in 1919 to replace the silver Mark. It would be struck until 1922.

THE ALLIES OCCUPY DUSSELDORF AND OTHER CITIES BECAUSE OF ALLEGED DEFAULTS IN REPARATION PAYMENTS.


1922
10,000 Mark 1922
(reduced image, click on image for full size view)
10,000 Mark January 19, 1922 Reichsbanknote
Image reduced approximately 50%, note size 210mm x 124mm
In early 1922 10,000 Mark would buy over 250 Pounds of Meat.
By the end of the year it would buy only 5 pounds of Meat.
In June bread is 3.50 Mark a loaf.

When first issued in January of 1922 this note was the highest denomination of circulating currency ever issued by the German government. It would soon become small change. The note is sometimes called the "Vampire Note" . If you look carefully, and have a good imagination, you will see a vampire on the neck of the German worker. This was said to represent the French sucking the blood from Germany through the war reparations.

BY AUGUST THE MARK BEGINS A COMPLETE COLLAPSE DUE TO HEAVY REPARATION PAYMENTS.
 


JANUARY1923
500 Mark 1923
500 Mark, Aluminum
Would buy 1 dozen eggs or a pound of flour.
Bread is 700 Mark a loaf.

This 500 Mark coin was the highest denomination issued for circulation by the German Government. Due to its rapidly decreasing value it rarely circulated.

FRENCH AND BELGIAN FORCES OCCUPY THE RUHR AND TAKE OVER MINES AND RAILROADS.



 
 

MAY 1923
500,000 Mark May 1, 1923
500,000 Mark May 1, 1923 Reichsbanknote
Would buy about 40 pounds of meat.
Bread is 1200 Mark a loaf.

Suitcases, rather than wallets, were used to carry money.


JULY 1923
10 Million Mark July 1923
10 Million Mark July 25, 1923 Reichsbanknote
Would buy 12 Pounds of Meat or 7 pounds of butter.
Bread is 100,000 Mark a loaf.

To save printing cost and produce currency faster, the note was printed only on one side.


SEPTEMBER 1923
10 Million Mark September 1923
10 Million Mark September 2, 1923, German Railroad Note
Would buy about Pound of Meat, 4 eggs or
2 pounds of potatoes.
Bread is 2 Million Mark a loaf.

The German National Railroad, along with many companies and towns issued their own inflationary currency as the German Government was unable to print money fast enough to keep up with the roaring inflation. As might be expected, these additional issues only further fueled inflation by increasing the money supply.


OCTOBER 1923
1 Milliarden (Billion) Mark October 1923
1 Billion Mark, October 20, 1923 Reichsbanknote
Would buy Pound of Meat, 3 eggs or 1/6 Pound of Butter
Bread is 670 Million Mark a loaf.

Upon being paid, workers would rush to stores to buy anything they could get, as they knew the prices would be higher in a matter of hours.

UPRISINGS, CAUSED IN PART BY THE CONTINUING INFLATION, BREAK OUT THROUGHOUT GERMANY.


NOVEMBER 1923
100,000 Billion (Milliarden) Mark November 1923
100 Billion Mark, Nov. 3 1923 City of Freital
On November 1 100 Billion Mark would buy 3 pounds of meat.
Bread is 3 Billion Mark a loaf.
On November 15 100 Billion Mark would buy 2 glasses of beer
Bread is 80 Billion Mark a loaf.

On November 15 a new currency, the Rentenmark was introduced. The Rentenmark was theoretically backed by all land and industry owned by the government. One new Rentenmark was worth a Trillion of the old Marks. Prices stabilized under the new currency, however the wealth of most of the nation's citizens had been destroyed.


1924
10 Rentenpfennig 1924
10 Rentenpfennig, aluminum-bronze
Would buy 3 Eggs or 2 pounds of Potatoes.
Bread is 35 Pfennig a loaf.

ADOLF HITLER WRITE "MEIN KAMPF".



For coins and notes of this period that are offered for sale, please visit our German Coins & Currency page at www.joelscoins.com/germany.htm

JOEL ANDERSON
 INTERESTING WORLD COINS & PAPER MONEY
www.joelscoins.com
Joel Anderson
PO Box 365
Grover Beach, CA 93483-0365 USA

phone 1 805 489 8045    fax 1 805 299 1818
email: orders@joelscoins.com

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