Updated: Dec 11, 2021
This Weimar Republic-era banknote represents the 1st version of the 2 Mark 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 replaced 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 * Two Marks", or in the literal sense "Loan-Cash Certificate * Two Mark". The observe's center text lists the the note's "2 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 underprint appears to be a fractal-based microprint, made of interlinked circles. The main print (excluding red center) uses an eccentric off-white on redish-blue "curling leaf" pattern, with red flowers. While neighboring header and footer utilize a tannish-red on reddish-beige "snowflake" microprint pattern. This somewhat harsh color scheme was replaced, on this note's 2nd variant.
The observe utilizes a pair of authentication stamps, representing the Imperial Debt Administration. The left stamp is a simple seal, while right stamp features an easily recognized raised/textured design. The observe also features wrap-around text, which outlines a list of legal warnings. Threating imprisonment for either creating, obtaining, and/or distributing falsified/counterfeit versions of this note.
"Berlin, 1 March 1920"
"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."
"Imperial Debt Administration"
The reverse's center features the note's "2 Mark" value, flanked by two Reichsadler (German Imperial Eagle). This is surrounded by an ornate wrap-around frame, resembling embroidery. The note's value is reinforced by a stylized number 2, on each corner. In addition to a under printed of number 2s, clustered into groups of 4, and spaced by "cross-like" symbols.
"2 Two Mark 2"
The note's dimensions are 99 mm x 66 mm or 3.90 in x 2.60 in, making it relatively small.
The 2nd Variant of this note uses a more appealing red, blue, and burgundy color scheme.
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.