Valuing Your Notgeld

For a comprehensive and quick on-line guide to values the best place to go is EBay's coins & paper money area - or simply search for "notgeld" or "million mark" or similar:
Ebay coins & paper money

I would say that other sources are jsut too hap-hazard. You can try your local coin dealer but they make a living by offering well under market price, so you will definitely pay a price there.

Overview of valuing notes

The price of any obsolete currency is almost always determined by how many copies are in circulation - on other words how rare the notes are and how easy they are to buy.

When it comes to an individual note though, you have to take into account its condition. If in very poor condition, if will fetch a price many times lower than if it is totally pristine (called "uncirculated" or "UNC" for short). Note that there are many notes from the 1920s in perfect condition, so don't think that a well worn note is in great quality - it simply isn't.

Unfortunately the very definition of market value itself can be perverted in a way. For example, I believe some dealers specialising in Notgeld in English speaking countries simply buy their notes from better-priced dealers and sell them 50% to 200% higher. (Sometimes even 300% in the case of one Australian dealer.) If you were to look at their price lists, you would assume that their inflated prices are the current market prices, whereas I always regard market price as the cheapest price you can expect to be able to find the item regularly on sale for.

Also if the Saechsische Bank's 1 Million Mark note sells in UNC (ie pristine) condition in Germany for US$2 and in the US for anything around US$7, then the market value in this case depends on which country you're selling it in.

Grading the condition of a note

You must first know the exact condition of a note in order to value it. This is something that collectors and dealers alike find very difficult and is especially difficult for the novice. But some the basic terms I've used with the valuing below are defined as follows:

High-Denomination Inflationary Notgeld

As a wildly inaccurate general rule, this higher the value on the note, the more the note is worth. So the prices for Billionen Mark notes are on average much higher than prices for Millionen Mark notes - but not always.

Unfortunately there is no set rule to apply. Even though Reichsbank Billionen Mark notes fetch values into the hundreds and even thousand of dollars, the Billionen Mark notes printed by the German railways can be bought in pristine condition for anything as low as US$8.

Condition is very important: well-handled notes are often worth less than US$1.

Albert Pick's "Standard Catalog of World Paper Money" Volumes I and II are probably the best (and possibly only) guide to prices available in English. Here are some examples:

						      Condition/US$ Retail
Issuing authority       Face-value            Date       VG    VF    UNC
Badische Bank           500 Mark           01.08.1922   1.00  2.50   7.50
Bayerische Notenbank    10 Millionen Mark  01.09.1923    .75  2.50   5.00
Saechsische Bank        1 BILLION Mark     15.11.1923  30.00 65.00 125.00
Wuerttembergische Bank  10,000 Mark        20.02.1923    .50  1.50   3.00
Reichsbahn (Berlin)     1 Million Mark     12.08.1923    .20   .50   1.00
Reichsbahn (Berlin)     20 BILLIONEN Mark  05.11.1923   2.00  4.00   7.50
Reichsbahn (Koeln)      10 Millionen Mark  02.09.1923   1.00  3.00   7.00

(And do note that these values are from the late 1990s and have probably changed a bit since then!)

The best suggestion I have is to check the price-list link at the top of this page if your note isn't listed here. Otherwise you can browse the Pick catalogues in either your town library or your local coin & currency dealer.

The Really Common Ones

People keep asking me about the same notes - so here's a list of the most common ones, which won't make anyone an instant millionaire. (The values here are just my guesses at a fair market value.) Note that you can only expect half this if you sell to a dealer!

						 Condition/US$ Retail
Issuing authority         Face-value     Date       VG    VF    UNC
Reichsbank Berlin          1000 Mark  21.04.1910   1.00  2.50   7.50
Reichsbank Berlin           100 Mark   1.11.1920   0.30  0.90   6.00
Reichsbank Berlin        10,000 Mark  19.01.1922   0.30  0.90   6.00
Reichsbank Berlin         1,000 Mark  15.09.1922   0.20  0.50   2.00
Reichsbank Berlin        50,000 Mark  19.11.1922   1.00  2.50   8.50
Reichsbank Berlin       100,000 Mark   1.02.1923   3.00  5.50  12.50
Reichsbank Berlin        20,000 Mark  20.02.1923   0.40  1.30   2.50-9.50
Reichsbank Berlin     1,000,000 Mark   9.08.1923   0.30  0.90   4.00     
Reichsbank Berlin     2,000,000 Mark   9.08.1923   0.40  1.00   3.00     
Reichsbank Berlin     5 Million Mark  20.08.1923   0.50  1.20   5.50     
Reichsbank Berlin    10 Million Mark  22.08.1923   0.20  0.80   3.00     
Reichsbank Berlin   100 Million Mark  22.08.1923   0.25  0.90   4.00     
Reichsbank Berlin    20 Million Mark   1.09.1923   0.40  1.00   4.00     
Reichsbank Berlin    50 Million Mark   1.09.1923   0.50  1.00   4.00     
Reichsbank Berlin   500 Million Mark   1.09.1923   0.50  1.00   5.00     
Why are most Notgeld notes so cheap? Well the problem is that these ones were printed in the millions and there are so many still around that they will take a long time to get scarce. So if you have some of these and they look fairly well handled with wrinkles etc on them, then you'd be best to hang on to them for interest's sake as they are not really worth anything.

Serienscheine (or "small change" notgeld)

The small colourful serienscheine are in general worth about US$1 each if in pristine condition, though mail order dealers often sell them for US$1.50. There are exceptions which will fetch higher prices but unless you have the Lindman or Keller catalogues (in German) then you'll never know. If a note looks like it has been well handled, its value will almost certainly be under 10c.

Serienscheine are outside my sphere of interest, so this is really as much as I can offer.

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This page was last modified in March 2002