German gold mark

German gold mark

Infobox Currency
currency_name_in_local = Mark de icon
image_1 = 1914-2-19-20.jpg
image_title_1 = German 20 mark banknote from 1914 ( [] )
image_2 =
image_title_2 =
iso_code =
using_countries = Germany
subunit_ratio_1 = 1/100
subunit_name_1 = Pfennig
symbol = M
symbol_subunit_1 = pf.
plural = Mark
plural_subunit_1 = pfennig
used_coins = 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 pfennig 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20 Mark
used_banknotes = 5, 10 , 20 , 50 , 100, 1000 Mark
issuing_authority = Reichsbank
issuing_authority_website =
obsolete_notice = Y

The Goldmark (officially just "Mark") is the name used for the currency of the German Empire from 1873 to 1914.


Before unification, the different German states issued a variety of different currencies, though most were linked to the Vereinsthaler, a silver coin containing 16⅔ grams of pure silver. Although the Mark was based on gold rather than silver, a fixed exchange rate between the Vereinsthaler and the Mark of 3 Mark = 1 Vereinsthaler was used for the conversion. Southern Germany had used the Gulden as the standard unit of account, which was worth fraction|4|7 of a Vereinsthaler and, hence, became worth 1.71 (1fraction|5|7) Mark in the new currency. Bremen had used a gold based Thaler which was converted directly to the Mark at a rate of 1 gold Thaler = 3.32 (3fraction|9|28) Mark. Hamburg had used its own Mark prior to 1873. This was replaced by the Goldmark at a rate of 1 Hamburg Mark = 1.2 Goldmark.

From January 1 1876 onwards, the Mark became the only legal tender. The name "Goldmark" was created later to distinguish it from the "Papiermark" (paper mark) which suffered a massive loss of value through hyperinflation following the First World War (see inflation in the Weimar Republic). The Goldmark was on a gold standard with 2790 Mark equal to 1 kilogram of pure gold (1 Mark = 358mg).


Coins of denominations between 1 Pfennig and 1 Mark were issued in standard designs for the whole Empire, whilst those above 1 Mark were issued by the individual states, using a standard design for the reverses (the "Reichsadler", the eagle insignia of the German Empire) with a design specific to the state on the obverse, generally a portrait of the monarch, with the free cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck using their city insignia. Many of the smaller states issued coins in very small numbers and these are thus extremely rare and valuable. The principality of Lippe was the only state not to issue any gold coins in this period.

Base metal coins

* 1 Pfennig (Copper: 1873-1916, aluminium: 1916-1918)
* 2 Pfennig (Copper: 1873-1916)
* 5 Pfennig (Cupro-nickel: 1873-1915, iron: 1915-1922)
* 10 Pfennig (Cupro-nickel: 1873-1916, iron and zinc: 1915-1922)
* 20 Pfennig (Cupro-nickel, 1887-1892)
* 25 Pfennig (Nickel, 1909-1912)
* 50 Pfennig (Aluminium, 1919-1922)

ilver coins

Silver coins were minted in .900 fineness to a standard of 5 grams silver per Mark. Production of 2 and 5 Mark coins ceased in 1915 while 1 Mark coins continued to be issued until 1916. A few 3 Mark coins was minted until 1918, and ½ Mark coins continued to be issued in silver until 1919.
* 20 Pfennig, 1.1111 g (1 g silver), only until 1878
* ½ Mark or 50 Pfennig, 2.7778 g (2.5 g silver)
* 1 Mark, 5.5555 g (5 g silver)
* 2 Mark, 11.1111 g (10 g silver)
* 3 Mark, 16.6667 g (15 g silver), from 1908 onwards
* 5 Mark, 27.7778 g (25 g silver)The 3 Mark coin was introduced as a replacement for the Vereinsthaler coins of the previous currency, whose silver content was slightly more than that of the 3 Mark coin.

The 5 Mark coin, however, was significantly closer in value to older Thalers (and other such crown-sized coins).

Gold coins

Gold coins were minted in .900 fineness to a standard of 2790 Mark = 1 kilogram of gold. Gold coin production ceased in 1915.
* 5 Mark, 1.9912 g (1.7921 g gold)
* 10 Mark, 3.9825 g (3.5842 g gold)
* 20 Mark, 7.965 g (7.1685 g gold)


Banknotes were issued by the Imperial Treasury (known as "Reichskassenschein") and the Reichsbank, as well as by the banks of some of the states. Imperial Treasury notes were issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 Mark, whilst Reichsbank notes were produced in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Mark. The notes issued after 1914 are referred to as Papiermark.


*numis cite SCWC|date=1991
*numis cite SCWPM|date=1994

External links

Standard numismatics external links
world_coin_gallery_1_url = Germany
world_coin_gallery_1_name = Germany
banknote_world_1_url = germany1
banknote_world_1_name = Germany - 1865 to 1919
dollarization_1_url =
dollarization_1_name =
gfd_1_url = Germany
gfd_1_name = Germany
gfd_data_1_url =
gfd_data_1_name =
show_gfd_excel = Y

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