Banknote Index



Comments on a long distance commercial transaction

One can hardly think of two cities further apart geographically than Nurnberg, Bavaria in the then German Reich and Timaru, South Island in far-off New Zealand.

Nurnberg, a booming industrial town in Roaring Twenties' Germany possessed a thriving numismatic & philatelic business. Besides dealing on a wholesale and retail level in these collectables. E. Schuster also issued a newsletter pricelist called "Der Banknotensammler" (the banknote collector). He also issued his own paper money catalog dealing exclusively with German paper money issues dating from 1914 to 1924.

E. Schuster's correspondence partner, in this instance, was Alex F. M. Paterson. Mr Paterson was very active in the philatelic community in New Zealand at the time being First President of The Airmail Society. Covers sent by him containing New Zealand's first airmail stamps have appeared in auctions in New Zealand being offered for around NZ $1000. Timaru was at the time a small port town of less than 40,000 inhabitants for the whole district. It is approximately two hours' drive south of Christchurch.


Whereas knowledge of the English language may not have been E. Schuster's strong point, he did have a knack of marketing what were otherwise and still pretty common items into a collectable item. He called the hobby "Sammelsport" associating collecting and sports implying a physical activity.

More important from a collector's point-of-view is the fact that he alluded to the fact that even as long ago as late 1928, when he edited this short 4 page pamphlet, that notes of higher denomination than 1 Billion dating November 1923 (Pick 129) were no longer obtainable. He therefore recommended collectors to purchase Billion denominations (Engl; Trillion) issued by the Reichsbahn (German Imperial Railways). These Reichsbahn banknotes (Pick Specialized 1027 – 1031) were priced at between US $10 and 12.50 in UNC condition or US $57.50 for the five notes offered by E. Schuster for 10 Mark at the time. Interestingly, correspondence on the postcard sent to New Zealand in March 1929, also deals with this set offered to Mr Paterson for 10 Mark or 10 Shillings.

Price List - Front

Price List - Back

Research shows that it would have been better for Mr Paterson, or more likely his heirs, to have invested in a 10 Shilling note circulating at that time in New Zealand. Any of the following issues from Bank of New Zealand, Commercial Bank of Australia, National Bank of Australia or Union Bank of Australia kept in strict UNC condition would be worth thousands of US$ in comparison with the set of Reichsbahn currency which would probably be difficult to sell in an auction for anywhere near US $100.

In terms of purchasing power, one can see that airmail postage costs for the postcard on March 20, 1929 was M 0.15. To send the same card today from Nurnberg to Timaru would cost Euro 0.95. The two most expensive items on the list: Pick 64 - the "Mourning Note" and Pick 65 - the "Egg Note" are listed at 30 and 10 Marks respectively. Recent results, as obtained from Track & Price, have Pick 64 yielding US $102.50 in PMG 64 EPQ in a eBay sale on 20 August 2018. For Pick 65 a more recent price result was for a Heritage Auctions sale dating 7 May 2019 where the note obtained US $77 in PMG 66 EPQ. It probably would have been better keeping the money in the circulating medium at the time: Pick 170 10 Rentenmark 1925, which scarcely appears on the market and would probably yield over US $1000 in graded uncirculated condition, or Pick 175 10 Reichsmark 1924 which would probably go for a similar amount.

The final page of the price list exhorts potential collectors to purchase these types of items as price information on available notes is not yet complete and that "a cheapening of prices would occur only in seldom cases or not at all".

Interesting are the offerings of Silk, Cloth, Velvet, Leather, Aluminium and Wooden Notgeld. Modern Notgeld and general currency collectors have pushed these types of items to a price level that would constitute a reasonable return to buying these types of items in late 1928.

Mass produced city Notgeld that is still commonly available in bulk and other lots and is generally traded at present at less than a Dollar each was offered on this list at 1000 pieces for 10 Mark or 1 pfennig per note. Maybe this was the best deal of this list. Also it would run contrary to the commonly expressed opinion that one should buy the "expensive item" first as these are generally scarcer and would likely hold their values better than cheaper and far commoner material. I think it is more accurate to say that it all depends; one's return - what one has to pay for a particular object...

Article contributed by Paul Neumann