Notgeld, German for 'emergency money', is currency that was issued during and after World War I (1914-18) in response to a shortage of coins and banknotes. The state bank gave towns and villages permission to issue their own currency and notgeld were issued from 1914 until about 1923. The terms 'gutschein', meaning 'voucher', and 'gemeinde', meaning 'municipality', often appear on this currency.

The first large issue of Notgeld started at the outbreak of World War I. Due to inflation caused by the cost of the war the value of the material that a coin was minted from was higher than the value of its denomination. Many institutions started to hoard coins. Additionally, the metals used to mint coins were needed for the production of war supplies. This caused a massive shortage of metal for coinage, which was remedied by issuing banknotes in small denominations.

Many of these banknotes were very colourful, and they soon became a target for collectors. As the issuing bodies realized this demand, they continued to issue these notes beyond their economic necessity up until 1922. Quite often the validity period of the note had already expired when the notgeld was issued. The sets that were issued in 1920 and predominantly in 1921 were usually extremely colourful and depicted many subjects, such as local buildings, local scenes and local folklore/tales. Many series tell a short story, with often whimsical illustrations. These sets (that were not actually issued to go into circulation) were known as Serienscheine (a piece issued as a part of a series or set). As they were never issued to go into circulation, they are usually found in uncirculated condition, and are still collected by notgeld collectors all over the world.

The website Notgeldaustria is dedicated to my mother Lucia Cobez, who as a 10 or 11 year-old schoolgirl in Vienna, collected these interesting scraps of paper. The title designs are from the original album that contained the collection.

I hope you enjoy looking at these notgeld, as much as my mother obviously did as she kept the album throughout her life.

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