Hamburg 1/2-million mark: August 1923?

Privat ausgegebene Münzen, Notgeld und Münzersatzmittel

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Hamburg 1/2-million mark: August 1923?

Beitrag von villa66 » Mo 25.05.15 09:48

Can someone please tell me whether this notgeld piece was actually produced c. August 1923, or might it be some later souvenir piece? I want to know how much I might need to modify the following to make it true...

From Germany’s Free City of Hamburg, a self-described piece of “emergency money” denominated at ½-million marks and dated “August 1923.” This thin (c.1.5mm) aluminum 500,000-mark piece weighs 2.04g, with a diameter of 28mm.

Unlike the pfennig-denominated notgeld that proliferated during WWI and the early postwar—zinc, iron, aluminum—the 1923 inflation was a largely paper affair. The inflation was just too fast-moving for metal coins (tokens) to make much sense, so much of the “coinage” that did appear was obviously aimed at collectors. This 500,000-mark piece, however—with its high-denomination, low-cost material, and reasonable size—has the look of something actually intended for use.

Its nearly uncirculated condition, though, assures us that whatever the intent—this piece did not circulate much, if at all. But then why would it? It carries a date of August 1923, and by 1 November 1923 (so says a contemporary German medallion), a single glass of beer cost 4,000,000,000 marks.

The arithmetic is cruel, to say the least. To buy that glass of beer in November, a person needed 8,000 of these notgeld coins—these coins from August—in his or her pockets.

And that would have been at the beginning of the night. By closing time it was likely a different story altogether.


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Re: Hamburg 1/2-million mark: August 1923?

Beitrag von Mynter » So 31.05.15 21:30

I was not able to find any source indicating when -or even if -theese emergency coins really where released into circulation, but I definatly would exclude any souvenir- purpose. The gigantic inflation of 1923 was a shock wich struck deeply in peoples mind,perhaps even until today. When the euro was introduced 13 years ago many germans thought of that event like a currencyreform and as if they now would suffer a severe loss of their values.
If the coins did play any role in daily commerce in the august of 1923 ,I can not say, probably not,as they typicaly seem to appear in rather good condidition.
Grüsse, Mynter

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Re: Hamburg 1/2-million mark: August 1923?

Beitrag von villa66 » Mo 01.06.15 00:52

Thanks, Mynter. I was posting the Hamburg notgeld piece and it suddenly occurred to me that I had just assumed it was a contemporary piece. (As few of them as I have actually seen—exactly 1, and I bought it(!)—I was suddenly afraid I was dealing with a fantasy piece or some such.)

So good, if it’s very likely a contemporary piece, which means I didn’t overreach in my comments.

You’re absolutely right about the impact of the inflation this token/coin represents. I was going to include something like that, but ran out of room (both within the conventions of thread I’m posting in, and of my notebook, where entries are limited to 13 lines). But what you say is true in the U.S. too. The German inflation of 1923 still strongly resonates with people. I suppose that’s mostly because of what followed--the 1923 inflation is often given the lion’s share of the blame (at least in the U.S.), so the ’23 German inflation registers with us in a way that similar events in 1940s Hungary and Greece just…don’t.

One quick story I read once of the ’23 inflation involved a relatively rich woman who had left Germany for Switzerland during WWI and had stayed on. Apparently she felt somewhat insulated from conditions back home, because—as I read the story—one day she was surprised to get a letter from her (German) bank saying they had closed her account, and that they had used her remaining bank balance to buy the postage stamp with which they had mailed her the letter.

Anyway, a lot of coinage has come and gone since 1914. Most of it wouldn’t mean much to the folks I know, especially if the subject were their present-day lives—but this 1923 Hamburg 1/2–million mark piece is a special case, and I think it would give many of them pause. It still talks.

Thank you again for looking into this token/coin for me. On this piece anyway, It puts my mind to rest.

;) v.

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Re: Hamburg 1/2-million mark: August 1923?

Beitrag von rista » Mo 01.06.15 17:45

Hallo villa,

your coin belongs to the smaller group of "Staatliche Notmünzen", that means, these emergency coins were released by the German states, e.g. Anhalt, Braunschweig, Hamburg. Here (click) you'll get a dealer's price list for this category.

From August 1923 there is another type knwon, it's worth is 200000 Mark. 2,5 mio (200000 M) and 2,0 mio (500000 M) coins were issued. Information was taken from the German journal "Münzen & Sammeln", I think it came originally from the Jaeger catalogue.

Of course, there are only a few coins with "high" denominations known from this period of the inflation. The issue of emergency money made of paper was even more common, because of the production costs and beacuse of the production process.

The Hamburg coins are timely, in August 1923 the face value of common emergency bills all over Germany changed from tens of thousands over hundreds of thousands up to millions.

Hope, this will help you...

Regards rista

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Re: Hamburg 1/2-million mark: August 1923?

Beitrag von villa66 » Di 02.06.15 15:24

Hi rista,

It does help, and I definitely appreciate your time and trouble. Gives me a broader picture of this species of notgeld, and of this piece in particular. Danke!

;) v.

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