Author Topic: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)  (Read 5040 times)

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Offline chrisild

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The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« on: April 29, 2011, 11:46:23 PM »
The German Empire (1871-1949) had a decimal currency, with denominations that we consider "normal". Sure, there was the 3 Mark coin, but that was due to the fact that the value was equal to the pre-Empire taler. Other than that, nothing odd. And then, in 1932 ... a 4 pfennig coin is introduced. Huh?

In the late 1920s/early 30s many countries went through economically rough times. (Black Friday, recession, etc.) The German chancellor Heinrich Brüning decided, in late 1931, that a new coin could motivate people to purchase more consciously and control their expenses. Dealers and manufacturers would lower their prices, and all this would help the economy.

Many decisions of Brüning's government were not made by parliament approved laws but by so-called Notverordnungen - emergency decrees. That also applies to the 4 Reichspfennig coin; it was created by a Notverordnung dated 8 Dec 1931. A little later the piece was issued:


(Image from Wikipedia)

The 4 pfennig denomination had been in use in various countries that later became the German Empire, in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Prussia even had one until 1872, I think.) But those were parts of different mostly non-decimal setups. Now, in the 1930s, the denomination was considered strange by most. There were lots of ironical comments, articles and political cartoons about the "Brüning Taler" or "Poor Heinrich" coin. Lots of other nicknames too.

People did not like the piece, banks did not want them, also because this copper coin was fairly large and heavy - 5 g, 24 mm. There were a few attempts at enforcing its use; wages were supposed to be partly paid with (fifty!) 4 Rpf coins for example. Ultimately the coin was not successful, and we would nowadays think of it as a naive economic approach anyway.

The nazi government then did away with the coin; it ceased to be legal tender on 1 Oct 1933. Until 1935 or so it could be returned and exchanged. Quite a few of those 50 million 4 Rpf coins survived however, and they are not really expensive, usually in the low two-digit euro range ...

Christian

Offline villa66

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Re: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2011, 12:32:14 PM »
Many thanks for this! There are several items there that are completely new to me.

 :) v.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2011, 12:58:09 PM »
The German chancellor Heinrich Brüning decided, in late 1931, that a new coin could motivate people to purchase more consciously and control their expenses. Dealers and manufacturers would lower their prices, and all this would help the economy.

I still find it hard to understand how Brüning would have seen this happen. Maybe he thought he could have the 5 pfennig replaced by a 4 pfennig that looked more substantial to make people realize what an awful lot of money they were paying ;) and get shopkeepers to lower the price of 5 pfennig items to 4 pfennig (a 20% price discount, how likely is that?) Was there an attempt to withdraw the 5 pfennig or limit its circulation? Were there any plans for an 8 pfennig?

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline chrisild

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Re: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2011, 03:44:00 PM »
Right - had the 4 Reichspfennig coin been a success (lower prices, more consumption, etc.), it would have replaced the 5 Rpf coin. As I wrote, nowadays we find such a concept naive at best, but back then ...

Or maybe the Brüning government did not really expect this to be a huge success but thought, why not give it a try? Hard to tell now. From what I have read, there had been plans to replace the 1 RM coin and introduce an 80 Rpf piece instead. Oh well.

As for the mintages, it is hard to tell what impact the 4 Rpf coin had on the production of the fiver. The 5 Rpf coin was first minted in 1924 (or 1923 if you include the Rentenpfennig piece with the same design) and then in 1925, both times at all mints. The 1926 piece was made by three mints only, then 1930 (A/Berlin only). Then, nothing for a while - and in that time the 4 Rpf coin was issued.

The nazi government later minted the 5 Rpf again (with the "Weimar" design) in 1935 and 1936, at all six mints. By that time the 4 Pfennig piece had been demonetized again ...

Christian

Offline goossen

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Re: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2011, 04:53:03 PM »
Thanks for this excellent thread! That one is on my want list for a long time...

Offline Figleaf

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Re: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2011, 05:06:36 PM »
Glad you are enjoying yourself, goossen. There are many more such threads here...

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Dude

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Re: The 4 Reichspfennig Coin (1932)
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2011, 07:42:09 AM »
Interesting info you posted there.

I can't wait to get my hands on it. It should arrive today. YAY :)

(got my hands on this coin) It is one of the most beautiful coins ever. Weird, but very beautiful!!! And it's in a VF condition.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2011, 10:53:22 AM by Dude »