Prints and printmaking, £12.99
Width: 186.000 mm
Height: 80.000 mm
Chartered Institute of Bankers Collection
CM CIB 12433
Coins and Medals
1,000,000 mark note
Germany, AD 1923
The price of inflation
Banknotes for huge sums of money sound like a dream come true, but in reality they are often a symptom of economic nightmare. After the First World War (1914-18), Germany faced crippling demands for reparation payments to her former enemies. She also suffered severe economic depression. The early 1920s saw disastrous inflation, with ever-increasing issues of banknotes for denominations of up to a hundred billion marks. Soaring price rises meant that these apparently vast sums of money could buy less and less.
Ordinary people found their savings and incomes reduced to nothing. Wages were collected in sacks, and shopkeepers used tea chests of notes instead of tills. In 1923, the year this one million mark note was issued by the Reichsbank, a letter in the British press reported that the price of a ham sandwich had gone up from 14,000 marks to 24,000 marks in one day. The price of a loaf of bread rose to 400 billion marks.
A. Pick, N. Shafer and C.K. Bruce (eds.), Standard catalog of world pape (Iola, Wisconsin, annual publication)
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)