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Borrowed Money, Loan Notes Of The Great War: 1 Mark (Imperial Germany, 1914)-Article

Updated: Apr 9

This WWI banknote represents the 1st denomination Darlehenskassenscheine (1914), issued by Imperial Germany. Darlehenskassenscheine (lit. Loan-Cash Certificate) were a special currency, that paralleled the wartime Papiermark and Goldmark. The notes were backed by loans on industrial and agricultural goods. In accordance with the Loan Fund Act of August 4, 1914 (RGBl. P. 340).

These notes were issued during WW1 (1914-1918) and the early Weimar Republic (1919-1923). For most Germans they were considered a de-facto currency. Until the introduction of the Reichsmark (Imperial Mark), in 1924. Which also paralleled the Retenmark (Mortgage Mark), introduced in November 1923. (Read our article "On the Financial Brink, Germany", for additional details on post-war Papiermark.)


The observe center features ornate artwork, flanked by a pair of "1 Mark". Clearly stating the note's value, while the header reads "Darlehenskassenscheine" (Loan Note). Notifying the bearer the note is not a standard banknote. Below the header is the note's main text, overprinted on the center artwork.

This main text, states the note is a One Mark, issued on 12 August 1914. By the Imperial Debt Administration, in Berlin. A number of signatures can be seen below, representing various Imperial Debt Administration officials. Below them is a warning to would be counterfeiters, threating no less than two years of imprisonment, for falsifying or knowingly procuring falsified debt notes.

Besides this warning is a pair of Imperial Debt Administration stamps. The left-side is a raised incised stamp, created by crimping the note. While the right-side stamp is known as a "red seal". Notably the 3rd variant of this note features a "blue seal".

At the upper-right is the note's serial number (783*000277).


"Debt Note"
-Header Text-
“One Mark"
"Berlin, 12 August 1914"
"Imperial Debt Administration"
-Main Text-
"Whoever falsifies or counterfeits debt notes, procures falsified or counterfeit debt notes, and bring them into circulation, will be imprisoned for no less than two years."
-Sub Text-
Imperial Debt Administration


The reverse depicts the Reichsadler (Imperial Eagle), at the center of an ornate frame. The frame is made of various overlapping guilloche patterns. Besides the Reichsadler is a pair of number "1"s, at the center of two "doughnut" shaped designs.

Above and below the center frame is text, reinforcing the note as a 1 Mark Darlehenskassenscheine. At the notes corners a number "1"s, which are read with the word "Mark" printed at the sides. Notably backlighting the note will expose a full-surface watermark. It features a repeating "cross" pattern, inside "flower" shaped cells.


"Debt Note"
"One Mark"
"1 Mark"
-Primary Text-

Additional Notes

  • The note's dimensions are 150 x 100 mm or 5.91 x 3.94 in, larger than a US Dollar.

  • The note's text is printed in a type of Gothic script, known as Fraktur.

  • Fraktur can be difficult to read for some people, due to its stylized letters.

  • Darlehnskassenschein were based on earlier Prussian notes, issued from 1848 to 1851.

  • Prussian Darlehnskassenschein were exchangeable for silver Thalers, from 1852-1855.

  • German Darlehnskassenschein were legally not exchangeable for Goldmarks.

  • This prohibition extended to all other alternative German currencies.

  • While not formal banknotes, all state treasuries were obligated to accept them.

  • WWI Papiermark are marked as Reichskassenschein (Imperial Banknote).


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