Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Notgeld in the Charles Hasler collection

MoDA's conservation and documentation project work on the Charles Hasler collection is drawing to an end. We have finished re-ordering and re-housing this rich assortment of illustrated books, ephemera and packaging material. Now the focus turns to data entry and making some of the information and images about objects in this collection available online.

Over the last few months, we have highlighted some of the interesting finds in this collection which was used by Hasler as reference for his work as a graphic designer. We told you about 1851 exhibition ephemera and also drew your attention to some interesting books. Today some currency takes the stage: introducing Hasler's collection of 60 unusual, highly decorative and historically significant 'Notgeld' (emergency money).

Notgeld means money issued by an unauthorized source (ie., not a bank). The German term is used because the most famous notgeld were those produced by German towns, villages and municipalities from the end of the First World War until the mid 1920s, when the state bank (the Reichsbank), struggled with wartime metal shortages and post-war hyperinflation.

Aside from some metal and fabric notgeld, the majority produced were paper notes. The highly decorative notes soon became collectors items - and still remain to this day. They are double-sided and printed with their monetary value, information about the village, town or province of issue and some wonderful, colourful illustration. Here are examples of the front and back of 1/2 mark, 1 mark and 2 mark notes released by the town of Strausberg in 1921. These are examples of notgeld from sets: 'serienscheine', which were produced mainly to respond to the growing collectors' market for these notes and were often illustrated with scenes which made light of the dire economic situation.

Three Strausberg notgeld, 1921, from the Charles Hasler collection (Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, CH5/4/2/5/4)

Here are a few others...
Three notgeld in the Charles Hasler Collection (Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, CH/5/4/2/5/4)

MoDA staff are not experts in numismatic collections, and nor was Hasler himself, since his reasons for collecting them were to do with his interest in paper ephemera and printed design.  (If you want to find out more about the historic value of these items, contact the British Museum as they have a vast array of Notgeld in their collection). Like Hasler, staff at the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (MoDA) are aware of the great value of these items as design work and hope that designers might find them as good reference material and a source of inspiration. If you want to book an appointment to view these or other items in our collections, there is further information about this on our website.

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