As many of you know, Notgeld is an area which I specialize in. Notgeld or Notmünzen, is best translated from German as 'Emergency Money'.
During the WWI period, like with many nations in wartime, there were issues with hoarding of Federal Coinage. In fact, this is the reason that the 1/2 Marks of the German Empire of that era were blackened to prevent hoarding. This lead to towns and cities issuing their own token currency. The ones issued by towns and cities are referred to as the Municipal issues. There were towns such as Eggenfelden issuing metal Notgeld as early as 1916. Due to the scarcity of materials due to the war, most of these pieces were issued in the most available materials at the time. This generally meant zinc and iron, both obviously highly reactive materials. This is one of the reasons for the relative scarcity of many of the pieces nowadays.
In addition to the Municipal issues, many private Merchants and large employers issued their own pieces. These are referred to as 'Private Notgeld', and are in my opinion, some of the most interesting pieces. Many large factories paid their employees with such pieces, some with quite beautiful designs. Many of these were minted by the firm Lauer from Nurnburg.
Another interesting segment of Notgeld collecting is Prisoner of War Camp issues, gefangenenlager in German. Given the conditions of many of these facilities, these pieces are significantly undervalued in my opinion.
Following WWI and the disastrous, for Germany, Treaty of Versailles and the beginning of the Weimar German period, these pieces kept being issued. The cutoff for municipal is generally considered to be the hyperinflation pieces of Westphalia in 1923, although issues of Bremen in 1924 are sometimes lumped in as well. Overall, there were over 600 municipalities which issued metal municipal Notgeld during this period, and over 10,000 private firms.
The hyperinflation pieces are a bit controversial, as most of the other municipal pieces were truly currency of necessity, while some of the absurdly highly denominated pieces, like the very scarce 1 billion Westphalia mark, are thought to have been issued more of as Medals.
While zinc and Iron were the most common compositions, there were also aluminum issues, some gilt bronze, and bronze municipal pieces. There are also encased postage issues, and even a compressed coal dust issues, issued by C. Conradty of Rothenbach.
We try to always offer several Notgeld auctions a week, all with no reserves! To start your Notgeld collection, please see our current offerings here