German Notgeld - National Numismatic Collection Instructions (NMAH)

Transcribing German Notgeld from the National Numismatic Collection


Included in the collections of the National Museum of American History's National Numismatic Collection, are more than 100,000 currency notes from Germany in the interwar period, known as "German Notgeld."

Notgeld is a form of emergency currency created by small cities, towns, and municipalities under German control during the period following the First World War. In the context of post-war currency shortages, these cities supplemented what the government was unable to provide. The notes include a wide range of imagery that represent local identities, traditions, and cultures. Notgeld are often colorful and heavily illustrated, depicting landscapes, cityscapes, historic monuments, people, and local folklore/mythology.  




Why this is important:


As we approach the centenary of these notes, many researchers are interested in using German Notgeld to study the economic, social, and political change within Germany and the impact of post-war crisises on local communities. Transcription and translation of the Notgeld will aid these researchers and museum staff in interpreting these objects. 


What to do - Find Projects Here

We need your help describing what is written and portrayed on each side of the Notgeld. Whether you are recording the text or the images, please be sure to indicate which side you are describing, [[obverse]] (front) or [[reverse]] (back). Within the images, the obverse will always be the top and the reverse will be the bottom.



Please record the text as you would read it, from left to right. Transcribe the [[obverse text]] and [[reverse text]] on separate lines.


In all CAPITAL letters, transcribe what is written on the note in the language it is written in. See examples here and below: 



Most notes are in German, but some are in Danish, Polish, or other languages used in countries that were under the Prussian rule. If you know what the text says in English, please also include the translation.


If you are able to translate, please notate the translation by typing [[translation]] abc [[/translation]] before and after the translated text.


How to type the German characters:

1. If you do have a German Keyboard, please type out the words and characters as you normally would.

2. You can also use keyboard shortcutes to include the diacritics (or special characters) in your transcription. 


Here's a list of shortcuts for of some of the most frequently encountered special characters:


On PCs:

Ä (hold down the Alt key and type 0196)
ä (Alt 0228)
Ö (Alt 0214)
ö (Alt 0246)
Ü (Alt 0220)
ü (Alt 0252)
ß (Alt 0223)


On Macs:

ß (Option-s)

To type an umlaut over a vowel on a Mac, follow this formula:

Option + u, then release Option and press the vowel you want

For a capital letter with an umlaut, press Shift after releasing the Option key.

ü (Option-u, u)
ö (Option-u, o)
Ä (Option-u, shift-a


3. Other ways in which German Characters can be written:

(ä, ö and ü) = ae, oe, or ue
esszett (ß) = ss



There are two places you can use to describe the images within the transcription box or within the notes field.

If you choose to describe images in the transcription box, please use [[image]] black cat [[/image]].

If you chose to transcribe in the the notes field, please use [[obverse image]] and [[reverse image]] to designate what side of the object you are describing.

Please be as descriptive and specific as you possibly can be with the items depicted.

If you know the names of any of the portraits, monuments, or buildings, mythology or folklore stories depicted, please include that information. The NNC staff is looking to have as specific identification and descriptions as are possible, so that they can be most effectively discovered and used for research.

See example: