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Porcelain substitute money

Before the outbreak of World War I, the German economy began to feel the effects of panic hoarding of bullion money by the population. First, gold 10 and 20 markka coins began to disappear from the market, then silver coins, and finally small copper, nickel and iron coins began to disappear. This situation was to be cured by the start of private issues of various types of vouchers facilitating mutual settlements between the population. In 1914, the first vouchers (notgeld) appeared, containing on a scrap of paper usually only the face value, seal and signature, or possibly the name of the town. Over time, however, their production reached the technical level of normal banknotes - but generally they were to be distinguished by at least a smaller size, shape, or material used (colored paper, textile material, cardboard, etc.). Several tens of thousands of such banknotes are known and cataloged. In addition to bills, substitute coins made of iron, zinc, aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, cardboard, often of very strange shapes - oval, square, wavy, octagonal, with holes cut out, etc., were minted at the same time. It happened that issues that were attractive in terms of graphics were delivered to collectors immediately after their release.
In the 1920s, one of the unusual materials for the production of coins was porcelain. Not for the first time - see Chinese and Siamese porcelain coins. Porcelain coins, despite sometimes large expenditures, rather did not circulate in the normal circulation of money - they were, however, eagerly collected by the population.
Thanks to the adventurer - alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger in 1709 in the workshop of Walter von Tschirnhaus the Chinese monopoly on the production of porcelain was broken.

Instead of gold, Böttger - a subject of August II the Strong, brought his ruler considerable income from the porcelain production technology he invented. A year after the discovery, the first porcelain manufactory in Meissen began to flourish.

There are two types of porcelain:
hard porcelain with a composition of 40-60% kaolin, 20-30% quartz, 20-30% feldspar (part of the kaolin can be replaced with clay burning white)
soft with a composition of 25-40% kaolin, 30-45% quartz, 25-40% feldspar

Unglazed porcelain, the so-called bisque - firing temperature 920 - 980 degrees C
Glazed porcelain - firing temperature 1280-1460 degrees C
Porcelain coins were made of plaster and steel stamps. Virtually all proof coins and medals up to 100 pieces come from plaster dies:

For larger quantities, steel stamps were engraved:

photos from "Medaillen aus Meissenner Porzellan" 1970-1974 VEB 1979 - collective work

The prepared clay mixture is placed in plaster stamps by injection or by pouring it into plaster molds. For a period of 2 weeks at a temperature of 60 degrees, the formed coin is dried. Then, dried, it is fired at a temperature of about 1200 degrees for 24 hours. The coin loses about 1/6 of its volume in this way. After cooling down, it is ground and polished. The brown biscuit is lightly oiled. Some coins and medals are additionally decorated with gilding, silvering of the edges and relief. Sometimes staining the edges in black or green was used. Each of the coins was painted by hand. Such decorations were subjected to additional heat treatment at a temperature of about 800 degrees.
Typical porcelain coins of brown and white porcelain with ornaments are shown in the photo of the 10 mark coin of the city of Meissen:

The Meissen plant was the first to start the production of substitute money at the turn of 1920 and 1921, ending it in 1922. He also often made designs for coins later produced in other porcelain factories. The main designer of the coins was the painter Professor Paul Börner, while the engraver of the stamps was Fritz Hörnlein.
Plaster stamped coins are usually much thinner than steel stamped coins. They also have blurred lettering often reaching the very edge of the coin.
In addition to porcelain, clay coins were also produced (including Bolesławiec - Bunzlau)

and majolica - the equivalent of faience. On the 100 mark coin from the city of Waiblingen, the famous "Redbeard" - Frederick Barbarossa and on the coin from Ravensburg Prince Henry the Lion and blackened from Gaildorf

An interesting fact are the coins from the city of Gotha with a high content of quartz, commonly known as "quartz" - they are characterized by high fragility and therefore it is difficult to obtain copies of these coins without chipping.

Gotha 50Pf 1920 - Photo: FESOJK/maShops/2023/22EUR

Graphite was also an interesting and unusual material for the production of coins:

Graphite coins of the Bavarian city of Röthenbach - Photo: Sincona73/2021/250CHF


1. Staatliche Porzellan Manufaktur Meissen
2. Meissner Ofen- und Porzellanfabrik (C.Teichert)
3. Branch in Bitterfeld as above
4. Bunzlauer Keramische Werkstätten Reinhold & Co.
1 2.
Porzellanfabriken in _ _ _ _ Stadt Lengsfeld 13. Porzellanfabrik Pfeffer in Gotha 14. Majolika- Werke in Gaildorf


a - m = brown porcelain
n - y = white porcelain

a - n = without decoration
b - o = gilded edge
c - p = gilded letters on the edge
d - q = gilding I as described
e - r = gilding II as described
f - s = green rim
g - t = red rim
h - u = blue rim
i - v = colorful decorations as described
k - w = extra decorations I as described
l - x = extra decorations II as described
m - y = extra decorations III as described description