50 Pfennig note

Hameln, Germany, AD 1922

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

During the First World War (1914-18) a shortage of coins encouraged towns and regions in several European countries to issue local notes worth small sums. In Germany this Notgeld ( 'emergency money') became popular as a theme for collecting, and by the 1920s these tiny notes were produced in vast numbers with collecting, rather than spending, in mind.

Designs on the notes ranged from wartime propaganda to local views or scenes from folklore. This example from the town of Hameln (Hamelin), in bright primary colours, refers to the Pied Piper, the legendary ratcatcher who lured the children of the town to their deaths in the thirteenth century. A whole sequence of notes was issued, each one illustrating a different part of the tale.

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More information


J. Cribb, Money: from cowrie shells to c (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

F. Carey (ed.), Collecting the 20th century, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)


Width: 96.000 mm
Height: 64.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1961, 6-9, 127


Gift of Mrs. Furryan-Fisher


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