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Notes Of The Kaiserreich, The Beauty In The Mirror: 100 Mark (Imperial Germany, 1908)-Article

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

This Imperial German banknote represents the 5th denomination of Goldmark (Series 1883-1914). The Gold Mark represented the gold-backed currency of Imperial Germany (1871-1918), also known as the Kaiserreich. Due to the outbreak of WWI (1914-1918) and wartime demand, all post-August 1914 notes lost their gold backing.

Notes produced during this period are sometimes known as Papiermark (Paper Marks). Although they shouldn't be confused with the post-war banknotes, of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). Notably banknotes issued by the Kaiserreich circulated alongside alternate currencies. Such as various forms of Notgeld (emergency money) and Darlehenskassenschein (debt notes).

The succeeding Weimar Republic repeated this practice, although on a much larger scale. (This note will be reviewed reverse first)


The reverse features a beautiful illustration of a goddess in a mirror, carried by 2 women. The woman on the left features a hammer and a Corinthian helmet. While the women on the right features a sickle and harvested crops. The goddess appears to represent the ancient Greek Aphrodite, goddess of beauty. While the supporting women are allegories for German industry (left) and agriculture (right).

At the upper-left and right corners are large number "100"s, on decorative backings. Representing the note's 100 Mark face value. Above and below the illustration are the note's red inked serial numbers (Nr 0523306 N). Notably post-war issued notes featured serial numbers in green ink. These were finalized on existing pre-war stock.

An outline of an Reichsadler (Imperial Eagle) can faintly be seen in the underprint. The inner border features repeating micro-text, it reads "100 Mark Banknote".


The observe features an Imperial Eagle underprint. with stylized overprinted text. The header reads "Reichsbanknote", identifying the note as issued by the Imperial German Bank. This header is important to differentiate banknote, from the similar Darlehenskassenschein (debt notes). Which often resemble banknotes issued during WWI-era.

The following text lists the note's (One Hundred Mark) value and read with the subtext below. To summarize it states, the Imperial Bank pays the consignor to the sum of One Hundred Marks. Further below is the note's 7 February 1908 print date. Followed by signatures representing various Imperial Bank officials. To their left is a warning to counterfeiters, threatening two years of imprisonment.

Along the sides are the note's red inked serial numbers (Nr 0523306 N). Toward the upper-right and lower-right corners, are Imperial Bank Directorate stamps. Similar to the beforementioned serial numbers, post-war issued notes feature stamps in green ink.

Full Translation

"Imperial Bank Note"
One Hundred Mark
"The Imperial Bank Main Register in Berlin, pays the consignor this banknote, without proof of identification."
Berlin, 7 February 1908
Imperial Bank Directorate
-Primary Text-
“Whoever falsifies or counterfeits banknotes, or procures falsified or counterfeit banknotes, and bring them into circulation, will be imprisoned for no less than two years.”
-Secondary Text-

Size Comparison

An Imperial German 100 Mark with US Dollar for scale.
An Imperial German 100 Mark with US Dollar for scale.

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 160 x 105 mm or 6.30 x 4.13 in, larger than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note is a protective case or large currency sleeve.

  • Similar to later forms of German Mark, the Goldmark was subdivided into 100 Pfennig.

  • During WWI German coinage was debased, gold and silver coins were discontinued.

  • During the mid-war (1915-1916) coinage was further debased to using iron and zinc.

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