Daniel M. writes: I have a coin of German Mark, which isn’t currency coin now. But I would to know what it’s worth. I would also like to know the background and circulating history of this coin. One side has an old man’s head, which mark the year 1757-1837. The other side is a photo of horse, which mark 10000 Mark and the year 1023 to 1923. I am long for your message.
The German economy was in a state of collapse by 1923 due to several factors, including exhaustion by the First World War and by the cost of reparations demanded by the allies after Germany surrendered. By 1923 inflation was rampant. Most coinage was hoarded because its intrinsic value exceeded its face value and most money was high denomination, paper notes. Coin shortages were common and municipalities took up the slack by issuing emergency coins called “Notgeld”. Their purpose was to ease the coin shortage caused by the war and the hyper-inflation afterwards. Notgeld was issued by transportation and utility companies as well as municipalities. Most notgeld was in the form of paper money, but coins made from various materials were also made. These coins were often struck in base metals and they are known in zinc, iron, steel, porcelain and aluminum.
Most Notgeld coins were issued between 1914 and 1923. “Notgeld” translates as “Necessary money” so as not to upset the authorities. This is very much like the emergency tokens of the United States Civil war that were labeled “Not One Cent”.
Your piece was issued by the German State of Westphalia. Pieces with similar designs were issued in denomination up to 50 Million marks. These issues exist in aluminum or bronze and are often plated (you can see plating wear on your piece).
Collectors enjoy arranging these coins by city or province. The most popular are the issues of Westphalia, in no small part due to the popularity of the 50 million mark piece.
Many were made as souvenirs long after the high inflation period ended. Unfortunately, if you visit some of the towns in Germany and Austria today they are still making the stuff and selling it to the tourists.
Depending on the city or province and the condition of the coin most Notgeld range from a few cents to $100+.