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From The Ashes, German Loan Currency: 1 Mark (Weimar Republic, 1920)-Article

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

This Weimar Republic-era banknote represents the 1st denomination of the Darlehenskassenscheine (1920). Darlehenskassenscheine (lit. Loan-Cash Certificate) were a special currency, that paralleled the German 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).

They were issued during WW1 (1914-1918) and the early Weimar Republic (1919-1933). For most Germans they were considered the de-facto currency. Until the introduction of the Papiermark (Papermark), in 1923. Which itself was replace by the Retenmark in November 1923. (Read our article "On the Financial Brink, Germany", for additional details on Papiermark.)


The observe's header roughly translates to "Debt Note One Mark", or in the literal sense "Loan-Cash Certificate One Mark". The observe's center text lists the the note's "1 Mark" value, with additional subtext below. This subtext lists the note as being issued on the 1st of March 1920, in Berlin. Unfortunately the signatures below (footer), currently can't be interpreted.

The note's print and underprint are fairly elaborate, particularly for an alternative currency. The under print uses a course "woven" pattern, appearing similar to burlap or canvas. The main print mostly uses burgundy on muted mint color scheme. A curling leaf design is used for decoration, in addition to beaded circles. Which surround a pair of "1 Mark"s, reaffirming the note's value.

The observe utilizes a pair of authentication stamps, representing the Imperial Debt Administration. The left stamp is a simple seal, while right stamp features a easily recognized raised/textured design. The observe's footer (on the underprint) also outlines a list of legal warnings. Threating imprisonment for either creating, obtaining, and/or distributing falsified/counterfeit versions of this note.


"Debt Note"
-Header Text-
“1 Mark"
"Berlin, 1 March 1920"
-Main Text-
"Whoever falsifies or counterfeits debt notes, procures falsified or counterfeit debt notes, and bring them into circulation, will be imprisoned."
-Footer Text-
"Imperial Debt Administration"
-Left/Right Stamps-


The reverse features a large number "1", surrounded by a decorative pattern. Additional smaller "1"s are located at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position. The center pattern is flanked by a pair of "bouquets", curving out from below. Midway below each of these "bouquets" is an ornate cicular pattern. Somewhat resembling a spoked wheel, with a small hollow center.

Unlike the observe the text is split. With "Debt Note" as a header and "One Mark" split by the base of the "bouquets". The note's "1 Mark" value is reaffirmed by instances on the upper left and right. Which is repeated as an underprint pattern, with fleurs-de-lis (French Lilies) as decorations.


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

Additional Notes

  • The note's dimensions are 91 mm x 60 mm or 3.58 in x 2.36 in.

  • 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.

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