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Collecting Notgeld

Updated on September 10, 2014

Buying and Collecting Notgeld Banknotes

Notgeld, also known as emergency money, is a fun and inexpensive collection to make. This page will focus on the banknotes, although Notgeld were also issued as coins. These banknotes are colorful and feature many interesting topics for collectors. Their popularity has increased over the last 20 years but they are still affordable. I am a collector (I collect mostly the Serienscheine) and will show you some of my collection as well as some pointers and basic information for those who want to collect and buy Notgeld. I am not a specialist, but you will find many links to the resources and websites.

Unless otherwise noted, all the banknotes photos on this page are from my collection.

Halloween Themed Notgeld

Obviously not issued as an Halloween commemorative piece at the time, these can certainly appeal to Halloween collectors.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thale Notgeld: bacchanalsThale Notgeld: witches worshiping the devilThale Notgeld: bacchanalsThale Notgeld: witches on broomKahla Notgeld: witchcraftIlsenburg Notgeld: witch and owl
Thale Notgeld: bacchanals
Thale Notgeld: bacchanals
Thale Notgeld: witches worshiping the devil
Thale Notgeld: witches worshiping the devil
Thale Notgeld: bacchanals
Thale Notgeld: bacchanals
Thale Notgeld: witches on broom
Thale Notgeld: witches on broom
Kahla Notgeld: witchcraft
Kahla Notgeld: witchcraft
Ilsenburg Notgeld: witch and owl
Ilsenburg Notgeld: witch and owl

You don't Need to Speak German to Enjoy Collecting Notgeld

It sure help when it comes to know more about the little verse on the banknotes, but in this age of internet you can find all the information you want with a little search on the net.

Deutsches Notgeld.
Deutsches Notgeld.
Comes in 2 volumes, 900 pages, over 4000 illustrations, lots in color, prices in euros, alphabetic listing. Covering the period: 1918-1922. This is an excellent reference book, a good investment in long term.

A Good Notgeld Catalog Is Always Useful

I do not have one currently, but will eventually invest in one. Just because a good Notgeld catalog provides handy information and helps in keeping tracks of what you have and what you want. If you are only starting, a catalog is not necessary. Interesting yes, useful certainly, but not absolutely necessary. Please also keep in mind also that the good ones are in German.

This is the one I will eventually buy:

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Hameln) - 2 colorful and fun set from my collection

Hameln notgeld
Hameln notgeld

Zu Hameln war einst grosse Not.

Viel Ratzen gab's und wenig Brot.

Sie frassen alles gross und klein.

Das macht die Bürgern grosse Pein

Once upon a time, the town of Hamelin had a huge problem.

Too many rats, too little bread!

The rats fed on everything large and small

causing the townsfolk a great deal of harm.

You can learn more about this legend here:The Pied Piper Of Hamelin

Pied Piper notgeld
Pied Piper notgeld
German Notgeld: Saint George slaying a dragon
German Notgeld: Saint George slaying a dragon

What Is A Notgeld

Notgeld literally means "necessity money" (or emergency money). In Germany, during World War I, metal was needed for weapon and war effort so the central bank gave authorization to towns and local industries to issue paper money to face shortage of metal. These banknotes were to be use locally.

"Notgeld was mainly issued in the form of (paper) banknotes. Sometimes other forms were used, as well: coins, leather, silk, linen, stamps, aluminium foil, coal, and porcelain; there are also reports of elemental sulfur being used, as well as all sorts of re-used paper and carton material (e.g. playing cards). These pieces made from playing cards are extremely rare and are known as "Spielkarten", the German word for "playing card"."Wikipedia

These first ones were so colorful and interesting that they became popular among collectors. So, as good business entities, the German towns continue to print these even after they where no longer needed, from 1918 to 1922. Sets upon sets were produced to fill the collector's demand. Collecting them is nothing new!

Bad Lippspringe Notgeld
Bad Lippspringe Notgeld

Types of Notgeld

Serienscheine: issued between 1918 and 1922. These are found in mint condition and often were made as sets. They were not meant for circulation, but for collectors. They will mainly depict a city`s cultural heritage: famous people, architecture, lore and legends, historical highlights. They are the colorful ones.

Verkehrsausgaben and Grossnotgeld: these were issued for circulation. The ones under 1 Mark denomination are called Verkehrsausgaben and those over 1 Mark are the Grossnotgeld.

Inflation 1922 and 1923: your chance to own a banknote with a face value of 1 million to 1 trillion! Now talk about inflation.

Halle Zoologischer Garten - From my collection: Halle zoo

Halle Zoologischer Garten notgeld
Halle Zoologischer Garten notgeld

This set was bought on an online auction, in a bidding war. Really a beautiful set of 5 banknotes, depicting some residents of the Halle zoological garden.

Lubeck notgeld
Lubeck notgeld

Where Can I Buy Notgeld

Most of my collection has been bought online. I never bought anything from a "real" store nor at collector's shows because most of the time I know I will get a better deal online. As for all collection, you have to know what it's worth before buying anything, unless of course you really want to have it and price is not a problem. I don't have a catalog (I will invest in one eventually) but I do research prices online before bidding or buying. Unless it's a piece I really really want, in that case I can bid whatever it takes for me to have it.

If you are starting to collect, you may want to start by buying some small lots to get you started. If like me you prefer to buy banknotes on particular topics, you can browse the internet to find what is available on your favorite subjects. I buy the following topics: animals, witches, Christmas scenes and anything that is unusual or with an interesting design. Or you can also specialized in a particular region. The main thing is collect what you like.

Buying Notgeld Online

Here`s a few online stores and collectors selling them

Hamburg Zoo Notgeld Set - Set from my collection

Hamburg zoo notgeld: A beautiful set from 1922, great saturated colors, very nice!
Hamburg zoo notgeld: A beautiful set from 1922, great saturated colors, very nice! | Source

The Art of Notgeld

These banknotes are little piece of art. Many designs are from the Art Deco and Arts and crafts movements. Although some are very simple, many are tiny piece of workmanship featuring lots of small details: column, friezes, arabesques.

The topics are various, each town wanting to show off its more interesting aspects. Among topics often depicted:

-Architecture, notable buildings

-Famous people

-Industry and crafts


-Demon, devils, witches

-Historical events

Here`s an interesting read:

Notgeld depicting Red Cross - Helmstedt Rotes Kreuz

Helmstedt notgeld red cross
Helmstedt notgeld red cross

Buy Notgeld Serienscheine on Auction - The colorful sets

Price on Serienscheine depends on 2 factor: rarity (obviously) and also topic. Some topic attracts collectors from various niche. One good example is Christmas. Christmas themed banknotes attract, along with banknotes collectors, those who collect either Christmas or religious paper ephemera. Same goes for many other topics.

Are You a Notgeld Collector?

See results

© 2008 Nathalie Roy

Do you Collect These German Emergency Notes or Something Else?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am collector over these Emergency money and banknotes too. Only Germany. I have around 3000 in my collection. It is a beautiful stori. Sorry my little English.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: Notgeld was not legal tender, however they were allowed to produce it and use it locally because of the shortage of coins (being war time and all), which were worth more in scrap than their face value. They were typically only good in the city or town where it was made, and only for a month at a time. Additionally, the 'Serienscheine' type notgeld were only produced for collecting.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      8 years ago

      It's interesting how the Germans developed this habit and technique of putting something away for a rainy day, into a beautiful habit.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      These notes are beautiful, and I enjoyed learning the history behind them. I have some coins from around the world, but no paper currency.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Some of these are really pretty. See, that's what happens when local governments do their own money - much more interesting!

      Thank you for writing this, I didn't even know these existed.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'd never even heard of this before, but I love the artwork on some of these! I can definitely see why people would want to collect them.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great site I collect coins and bank notes from all over never heard of Notgeld before a week ago when I came across a sale of a small lot of 25 notgeld notes online did some quick research and I had to have them and made the purchase at a great deal, they are a great piece of history.

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for this very interesting lens topic "Collecting Notgeld"

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I collect our country's currency and some from the US but thus far have not collected any foreign currencies.

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image


      8 years ago

      My lesson from Squidoo for today! Notgeld.. had never heard of it... Thank you for sharing your collection.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      8 years ago

      Fascinating well put together lens. This is very beautiful. I have a feeling that if I came to your lenses consistently I would learn a lot. Blessed!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      9 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      A whole lot of things, but not notgeld.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      9 years ago

      I appreciate this! Such an interesting item. I like the kangaroo notgelds from Hamburg best. Cool! "Squid Angel blessed."

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Never heard of Notgeld, but I really like it!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      I had not heard of Notgeld before. It is soooo beautiful. If I ran across some Notgeld I would certainly buy it. My favorite here on this page is the Hamburg Zoo Notgeld Set.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The artwork on Notgeld is beautiful!

    • Akitajitsu profile image


      9 years ago from California

      Very interesting! I hadn't heard of Notgeld before. Thanks for sharing!

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 

      9 years ago

      I had never heard of notgeld, and was fascinated by its history, as well as the detail in the art. Thank you so much for sharing! And congratulations for making the front page!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fascinating lens! I never knew towns did this during the first World War. What a great way to remember the past and to get an insight into how the various local cultures that make up Germany viewed themselves!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I hadn't heard of notgeld before visiting this lens. Very interesting, and the artwork on them is quite beautiful.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow.. those are really cool.. I collect loads of things.. :) Illuminati Cards, coins, Native American stuff.. and loads more! :) Blessed!

    • chezchazz profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      Thanks for an interesting lens and for introducing me to Notgeld.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very interesting. Have not heard of notgeld before.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You sent me to school today! I knew nothing about Notgeld before finding your lens. Very interesting!

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 

      9 years ago

      I've never heard of it before. The artwork is beautiful on most of these.

    • Rhidawn profile image


      9 years ago

      I've never heard of notgeld before. I must say I did enjoy looking at the pictures on them!

    • profile image

      Poison kitty 

      10 years ago

      Ive never seen notgeld before, although my nan had a fine collection of coins from when my grandad was in the merchant and royal navy during and after the war. Absolutely fascinating!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      10 years ago from Canada

      I had never heard of Notgeld before. It is very beautifully unique currency. Wonderful once again to see your treasures. I have many too but most have been given away over the years. I collect for the thrill of the hunt and then pass them along.

    • Violin-Student profile image


      10 years ago

      I don't have a single specimen. I do collect U.S. coins, and have written about some of them here on Squidoo. This was a very interesting lens. A good starting place for the hobby. Thanks for the page!


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      the times where this money was in use were really bad ones for the people...the lens is very interesting...this money robbed the normal ppl of their posessions...

    • thesuccess2 profile image


      10 years ago

      I lived in Germany but had never heard of these, great niche lens.

    • viscri8 profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi fanfreluche, I never knew about the Notgeld, only the Not.

      Im Not schmeckt der Wurst auch ohne Brot?

      I wish I had money to buy money. I enjoyed learning about the Notgeld

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I collect notgeld and love to get complete sets of towns where my family lived before they came to the states. I think that its shows the rich heritage unique to the areas in the illustrations.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Never heard of Notgeld! Wow, what an interesting item to collect. I can see your fascination with them as they really are works of art. SquidAngel Blessed!

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image


      10 years ago

      I had never heard of Notgeld until I read this lens. These look like they would make a beautiful collection! I collect lucky penny keychains when I travel, but those come now where CLOSE to what you've shown here.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Interesting lens on an unique topic. This is the first time I'm hearing about Notgeld currency. I collect coins and bank notes, but I'm no serious collector. I've been to several countries and have been able to collect different currency notes. As well, my dad passed on his collection of coins to me. The Notgeld currency notes are colorful indeed. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      10 years ago

      Okay, I speak some German but have not heard of collecting these banknotes before now. What a fun and very interesting collection idea. You have me seriously considering this :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Have to say Notgeld is very unique and interesting banknotes!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      10 years ago

      What a great subject, very cool! :)

      ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel >*

    • rwoman profile image


      10 years ago

      I learned something today! Thanks.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Fanfreluche,

      Thanks for a fascinating lens! :O)

      Oh, I HAVE things that I love, but I've never had the training to actually be a collector. It took forever before I heard, for example, about buying two of everything--one to enjoy & one to store. Also, there's understanding how to store, how to display, etc.

      I have lots of books & strong opinions about them. I also keep some Hello Kitty stuff that I just love! Hahaha! :D

      I'd love to collect something as historical & whimsical & interesting as Notgeld! Wonderful lens, Sweetie!

      Sunshine & Blessings,


    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      10 years ago

      I collect books- great lens, very lovely to read through. Angel blessed.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks so much for introducing me to this fascinating subject! I love old paper, but I'd never heard of notgeld - you learn something new every day! :)

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 

      10 years ago from Quezon City

      Beautifully done lens on Notgeld! I've never heard of it before so I really appreciate this well-done introduction. (: ~Blessed~

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      10 years ago

      Great lens topic. I've never heard of them before but they would certainly make an interesting collection.

    • TapIn2U profile image


      10 years ago

      Now this is something new. This will make a really rare collection. Unique ideas you have here. Hey, your Tweets were one of the ones I followed from Twitter when I found Squidoo. I have just finished my first Lens and now have great ideas to add thanks to you. Sundae ;-)

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent lens, great subject. Lensrolling to my Small Collectables group of lenses.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Oh, how interesting this is! Recently, I have gained a greater appreciation for "necessity money" or emergency money ... thanks for the information so nicely presented.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Notgeld is a new term for they really are pretty darn cool! Great idea for a topic.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      10 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      I'd never heard of Notgeld before, but these designs are wonderful. Now I'm interested!


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