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Information about currency: Reichsmark

Currency nameReichsmark
CountryGermany
Dates1924 - 1948
System

1 Reichsmark = 100 Pfennig

Description

The Reichsmark (sign: ℛℳ) was the currency in Germany from 1924 until 20 June 1948 and in Austria from 1938 to 1945. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig. The Mark is an ancient Germanic weight measure, traditionally a half pound, later used for several coins. From 1871 to 1918 Germany was called the Kaiserreich or the Deutsches Reich. Although Germany became a republic in 1919, the term "Reich" remained part of the country's official name.

In 1924, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 Reichspfennig, and 1 and 3 mark (not Reichsmark). The 1 and 2 Reichspfennig were struck in bronze, and depicting a wheat sheaf. And the 5, 10, and 50 Reichspfennig were struck in aluminium-bronze and depicted wheat stocks crossed into a stylized pattern. The two highest denominations were struck in .500 fine silver and depicted the German eagle standard. In 1925, .500 fine silver 1 and 2 Reichsmark coins were introduced for circulation, along with the first of many commemorative 3 and 5 Reichsmark coins. In 1927, nickel 50 Reichspfennig coins were introduced along with regular-type 5 Reichsmark coins, followed by the 3 Reichsmark coin in 1931.

Nazi Germany had a number of mints (coin factories). Each mint location had its own identifiable letter. It is therefore possible to identify exactly which mint produced what coin by noting the mint mark on the coin. Not all mints were authorized to produce coins every year. The mints were also only authorized to produce a set number of coins with some mints allocated a greater production than others. Some of the coins with particular mint marks are therefore scarcer than others. With the silver 2 and 5 Reichsmark coins, the mint mark is found under the date on the left side of the coin. On the smaller denomination Reichspfennig coins, the mint mark is found on the bottom center of the coin.

Four Reichspfennig coins were issued in 1932 as part of a failed attempt by the Reichskanzler Heinrich Brüning to reduce prices through use of 4 Reichspfennig pieces instead of 5 Reichspfennig coins. Known as the Brüningtaler or Armer Heinrich ("poor Heinrich"), they were demonetized the following year. The quality of the Reichsmark coins decreased more and more towards the end of World War II and misprints happened more frequently. This led to an increase in counterfeiting of money.

Production of silver 1 Reichsmark coins ended in 1927. In 1933, nickel 1 Reichsmark coins were introduced, and new silver 2 and 5 Reichsmark coins were introduced which were smaller but struck in .625 and .900 fineness so as to maintain the amount of silver. Between 1933 and 1939, a number of commemorative 5 Reichsmark pieces would be issued. Production of the 3 Reichsmark coin ceased altogether. In 1935, aluminium 50 Reichspfennig coins were introduced, initially for just the one year. In 1937, nickel 50 Reichspfennig coins were issued and continued to be produced up to 1939, before reverting to aluminum. From 1936 on, all coins except the 1 Reichsmark and the first version (1935–36) of the 5 Reichsmark coin (bearing the image of the late Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg) bore the Nazi state insignia. The eagle had two standard designs on most coin denominations, a soaring eagle and large swastika depicted on most earlier issues, and a more "aggressive" eagle with less prominent swastika which became predominant in the 1940s. From 1933 until 1948, a stylized script lettering was also adopted on all denominations as opposed to a typeface style.

During World War II, bronze and aluminium-bronze coins were replaced by zinc and aluminium, with the 2 Reichspfennig discontinued for potential of being too easily mistaken for the 10 Reichspfennig when being struck in the same metal. The 1, 2, and 5 Reichsmark coins were no longer issued, replaced instead by banknotes. Aluminium 50 Reichspfennig coins were reintroduced to replace the nickel versions. This time around they had a longer run, being produced from 1939 to 1944. Lower denominations were produced in zinc from 1940 onwards. Due to their composition, these coins had poor durability and are hard to find in very good condition. The last production of coins bearing the swastika was in 1944 (1, 5, 10, and 50 Reichspfennig) and 1945 (1 and 10 Reichspfennig only).

Currency Reichsmark was used:
Country From To
Germany Reichsmark 1924 1948