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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Notgeld?

Notgeld is a collective term for the many local, regional, and private banknotes issued in Germany (and also in Austria, to a lesser extent) beginning with the outbreak of World War I and continuing until the practice was outlawed on January 1, 1924. The word Notgeld is often translated as "emergency money" and is pronounced NOTE-gelt. But you can say NOTE-geld, that's fine, just don't call it "not" geld!

I made a YouTube video answering just this question: What is Notgeld? Please check it out here: youtube.com/watch?v=b8-16x7VLyg

Notgeld went through distinct phases, and the meaning of the term itself changed somewhat with the times. When World War I broke out, the circulating coins in Germany that contained silver were hoarded by everyone, including banks and the government, and almost as soon as the first shots were fired, the supply of small change dried up. So the first 1914 and 1915 issues were truly issued out of an emergency, or necessity, both of which are meanings of the word Not in German.

Small change notes (Kleingeldscheine) continued to be issued from 1916 through 1921, intended for circulation — these are usually called circulating notes, or Verkehrsausgaben in German. Beginning in 1918, with the end of World War I and the ensuing poverty that came with it, larger denomination notes called Großnotgeld were also issued.

After the end of World War I, the word Notgeld itself began to take on a different meaning. The notes were no longer issued simply out of necessity or as an emergency measure, but out of poverty and lack of money — both of which are still further meanings of the word Not. The time after World War I was a time of Hungersnot (famine) and is still referred to today as the Notzeit (time of poverty).

The ultimate flowering of the Notgeld phenomenon was the world's first banknote collecting craze that occurred during 1920-1922, the "series note" craze (Serienscheine). These are the beautiful, full-color notes that were issued primarily in sets for a collector's market that we usually think of today as Notgeld. But at the time there was some resistance by staunch collectors of the older types of Notgeld, who viewed these notes as not really being money — and in fact they were never intended to be used in circulation.

But these series notes are simply Notgeld in a different sense of the word, issued not as emergency money or out of necessity, but as true documents of the Notzeit. They became extremely popular among collectors who filled albums with the colorful, wild imagery — the world had never seen money like this before, nor has it again since. Their gallows humor, their stubborn resistance to giving in to despair, and their celebration of local heroes, literature, music, and other cultural monuments is mixed with the era's strong tendency toward political extremes that gave rise to both far left and far right political ideologies, and everything in between.

In 1922, currency inflation began to spiral out of control, and to keep up with the daily increases in denominations, once again a new type of Notgeld had to be issued out of true necessity, Inflation Notgeld. By the end of 1923, hundreds of thousands of different issues of Notgeld had been produced in Germany with denominations reaching all the way up to 100 trillion marks (100 Billionen). Toward the very end of the inflation period, as the currency became utterly worthless, notes were no longer denominated in the Mark but in gold, US dollars, or any other stable source of value like foodstuffs or basic necessities. Some notes were even printed on materials like silk so that they would have some intrinsic value, particularly as works of art and collectors items.


I'm looking for a particular item that isn't listed / is sold out. Do you have it?

Quite possibly! If you don't see what you're looking for, please use this form to contact me or send an email to notgeldmarket@gmail.com. There's a good chance I may have what you're looking for!


What are the grades given for the condition of the notes?

I try to follow the banknote grading standards as accepted by the International Bank Note Society as well as grading companies like PMG and PCGS, but with a few differences.

First of all, I only list grades for notes that are XF (extremely fine), AUNC (about uncirculated), or AU/UNC (about uncirculated/uncirculated). Below this I use terms like lightly circulated, circulated, or heavily circulated. I try to grade conservatively, so much so that you may find my "lightly circulated" notes to be XF or even higher, because I don't want anyone to be disappointed that a note isn't up to the grade I've assigned.

Second, because terms like uncirculated, choice uncirculated, crisp uncirculated, and so on have proliferated, and grading companies have begun offering 11 or more different grades of uncirculated, I have come to avoid using the grade UNC or uncirculated. I simply use the all-encompassing term AU/UNC to reflect the fact that a true "70" grade perfect banknote is nearly impossible to find and that there may be minor imperfections even in an "uncirculated" note.

The best advice is to always look at the photos of the actual notes. Collectors today place a much greater emphasis on condition than was the case in the past, so I provide photos of the actual notes for all of my listings, and you should always make your own determination.


Do you offer any discounts?

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How does US domestic shipping work?

Orders are shipped very carefully packaged via USPS First Class with tracking and delivery confirmation. Orders generally ship within one business day and take between 2 to 5 business days to arrive. You will receive an automated shipping notification with tracking information when your order ships. The cost for US shipping is $2.50, or free for orders over $50. This includes APO/FPO, Puerto Rico, Guam, and anywhere else where USPS offers domestic rates for first-class packages.


How does international shipping work?

International shipping is one area where I feel I have to apologize. Compared to the rates and services offered in most countries, we are at a distinct disadvantage in the United States. As of January, 2016, the cheapest option for international shipping with tracking is $13.50, and even that is only available to select countries. This represents a 110% increase over the previous rates! In addition to these rates, you may also be liable for customs duties, which can be particularly onerous in places like Great Britain.

For countries where $13.50 unlimited international shipping is not available, the cheapest option that offers tracking is a ridiculous $70. Unfortunately without tracking and delivery confirmation, I have no proof of delivery and Paypal or any credit card processor will refund the buyer, so I can only offer delivery with tracking when paying by these methods.

I feel bad that I even have to suggest shipping at the buyer's risk, but I have had to refund buyers numerous times on Ebay when I was gullible enough to ship overseas without tracking to buyers who paid with Paypal. But for buyers who can pay with Bitcoin, I can still offer unlimited international shipping via standard mail for $2.50 to any country, however I must emphasize that this is at the buyer's risk. So far there have been no problems with any shipments using this option.

For international purchases of single items, buying on Ebay may actually be the best route. Ebay's Global Shipping Program is now much more competitive, thanks to the massive increase in USPS international rates, and it even takes care of customs fees in advance. Not only that, but Ebay's Global Shipping Program ships to many countries that are not covered by the $13.50 USPS First Class International Parcel option that I offer here on this site. The only downside is that the Ebay Global Shipping Program does NOT offer combined shipping for multiple items, which is a severe and unnecessary drawback for items like banknotes, where additional items do not add substantially to the shipping cost.


What payment options do you offer?

The most common payment method is Paypal, but you can pay with almost any credit card. All credit card payments are securely processed by Shopify; I do not see or have access to your credit card information. I also accept Bitcoin, but this is primarily as a workaround for international buyers who want cheap international shipping at the buyer's risk.


Do you charge sales tax for customers in Iowa?

No! Iowa passed a law exempting numismatic items (collectible coins, paper money) from state sales tax.


Is it safe to shop on NotgeldMarket.com?

Yes! While I suppose it's technically impossible for anything to be 100% safe, shopping on NotgeldMarket.com is much safer than many, if not most other online retailers. Here's why:

  • NotgeldMarket.com is powered by Shopify, one of the largest and most trusted ecommerce platforms available. I do not have any access to your passwords or login information, nor do I ever see your credit card numbers or charge you directly. The checkout is completely taken care of by Shopify, whose payment gateway processes credit card payments.
  • Paying with Paypal provides all of the same buyer protection coverage that you have come to expect on Ebay. Actually credit cards also provide the same protections, but you're not going to need it, because...
  • I am fully committed to 100% customer satisfaction. If there is a problem with an order I will make it right to your satisfaction or provide a refund. I have never had a customer have to resort to even opening a case on Ebay. I want to make sure you get exactly what you order, and my primary goal, quite frankly, is to popularize the Notgeld collecting hobby and to be involved in the community of Notgeld collectors.
  • All pages on this site are always fully SSL-secured and encrypted by Shopify.
  • NotgeldMarket.com will never share your information with any other third party for any reason whatsoever. Ever.

How can I find out about news and new listings?

I'm so glad you asked! Please sign up for the NotgeldMarket.com e-mail newsletter! I really don't even send out e-mails as often as I should, so it's not like it's a huge commitment. I promise not to ever share your e-mail address with any third party and you can unsubscribe at any time.