By: Steven Heller | September 22, 2008
With the U.S. economy going south, we may be forced to do what the Germans and Austrians did during their incredible inflation after World War I: Each city and town designed and printed their own emergency (or ersatz) money called Notgeld (above and below). It turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for designers to start from zero and create unprecedented currency. The value of the Mark or Pfenning in Germany and the Heller (yes, you’re reading that correctly) in Austria (bottom) may have been worthless, but the bills were extraordinarily beautiful and often witty.
Incidentally, the city of Great Barrington, Mass., has been circulating its own Notgeld or barter money called BerkShares for the past year.