The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

"Notgeld" bill

From gizmodo.com:

State-issued currency is the scaffolding upon which capitalism was built, but it’s always been prone to mayhem. For instance in 1920s Germany, extreme inflation forced German businesses to actually print millions of their own customized paper bills. Now largely forgotten, this notgeld, or “emergency money,” was once ubiquitous—amounting to an ornately-decorated I.O.U. in Weimar Germany.

Notgeld was a catch-all name for private currency, printed between World War I and World War II in Germany and Austria. There are hundreds—maybe thousands—of unique bills, each created for a specific amount of gold, cash, or even corn and grain. Each printer created (or commissioned) its own design, which ranged from beautiful turn-of-the-century engravings to modernist Bauhaus-inspired typography. The most complete collection of notgeld online comes courtesy of Brooklynite Miguel Oks, whose German ancestors began archiving the bills in the 1930s—thousands of which you can see on his Flickr.

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

So what sparked this proliferation of wildly decorative—and often quite beautiful—emergency currency? There’s a long version and a short version, the latter of which began during World War I, with incredibly rapid inflation spurred by the cost of war. Compounding the problem, the demand for metals used to make weapons and ammunition caused the value of traditional coinage to skyrocket—and soon, banks were printing more and more paper money to make up for the disappearing coins.

Even after the Great War ended, strict reparations and a subsequent depression made for even more inflation—this was Mack the Knife-era Weimar, where hunger and unemployment were the norm. Companies were often forced to issue specialized notgeld to pay their employees, simply because the state-run mints couldn’t print enough money to satisfy the demand for bills. So instead, businesses and organizations made their own—and according to Oks, it was often even more stable than conventional bills, since it was tied to gold or another tangible resource.

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

Fascinatingly, there was also a financial logic to the elaborate decorations that grace many of these bills. Miguel Oks explains:

They made it very pretty on purpose: many people collected the bills, and the debt would never have to be paid. Many were specifically made for collecting, they were called “Serienscheine”, and special albums were sold for the specific purpose of organizing and displaying them. They were printed on all kinds of materials: leather, fabric, porcelain, silk, tin foil…

So the decorations on notgeld bills weren’t just “of their time.” They were actually calculated attempts to create collector’s items—which would thus never be turned in for actual compensation.

Of course, financial instability—and all the social ills that came with it—would play a huge role in the rise of National Socialism. If you look closely, the designs on some of these bills speak to the earliest inklings of Nazi ideology, too, from wounded German soldiers to Germanic mythological figures—innocuous signals of darker times ahead. But they also offer a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of this hard-fought era. Check out some of the voluminous collection below. [Miguel Oks on Flickr; Quipsologies]

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars1

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars2

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

The Intricate Makeshift Money Germans Relied On Between World Wars

Baratunde Thurston and Brian Janosch Discuss Their New Web Series about Crowdfunding

Host Baratunde Thurston interviews an entrepreneur
Host Baratunde Thurston interviews an entrepreneur
Host Baratunde Thurston interviews an entrepreneur on his crowdfunding web series, Funded

From Slate.com.

Baratunde Thurston is former director of digital for The Onion and the author of How to Be Black. Brian Janosch is currently writer-at-large at The OnionSlate spoke with them about their new web series, Funded, which tells the stories of small businesses that have used crowdfunding to get off the ground.

Slate: What’s the idea behind Funded?

Baratunde Thurston: We—meaning Cultivated Wit, a company I helped start after leaving The Onion last year, along with Brian and Craig Cannon—are working with AOL Studios to do this 10-episode series about crowdfunding small businesses across the country. I’ll be hosting it, interviewing people and figuring out why they chose this path and who the people are that supported them. We want to put a new face on where businesses are coming, and get at the power of the story that these founders and entrepreneurs have to tell.

Brian Janosch: This is definitely a business story, but it is very much the storytelling angle to it that excites us. We’re excited to meet some of these people and hear what they have to say.

[Full article]

The Two Most Important Words in Business

"Thank You"

"Thank You"By Robert A. Eckert from the Harvard Business Review:

When I arrived at Mattel, the company was losing almost a million dollars a day, the bonus pool was empty, and equity awards were underwater. I believed that those challenges were surmountable. On my first day, at a “town hall” gathering in the cafeteria, I said, “I know how this works. We will turn things around, and because I’m the new, outsider CEO, I’ll get a lot of the credit. But I know who’s really going to deserve the thanks—all of you. I appreciate what you’re about to accomplish.”

I had just arrived from Kraft Foods, where I spent the first 23 years of my career. By the time I was chosen to lead the world’s largest toy company, I had experienced every layer of organizational life, starting as an entry-level grunt. And although I worked hard, I also had a lot of help. My parents and teachers influenced me in powerful and positive ways. My 15 different bosses at Kraft all supported, guided, and taught me. (Well, all but one—who, by the way, lasted only a year at the company.) I found myself saying thank you a lot. Yet I’m also a learner by nature, as I expect most readers of this column are. So I learned to say thank you even more, because the effect was obvious.

[Full article]

From A List Apart: A response to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s condescending “Seven Rules for Managing Creative People”

Tweet: Mike Monteiro @Mike_FTW Never, ever, ever let them call you a “creative”. It’s a way to be disenfranchised. You are a designer. It’s not magic, it’s a trade.

Tweet: Mike Monteiro @Mike_FTW Never, ever, ever let them call you a “creative”. It’s a way to be disenfranchised. You are a designer. It’s not magic, it’s a trade.

By Cennydd Bowles from A List Apart:

Childish, inaccurate, bizarre, and condescending? Perhaps—but you can’t just ignore articles like that. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s Seven Rules for Managing Creative People1 has caused some serious ripples. The article sets lofty standards for missing the point, misrepresenting creative industries to the point of infantilization. At its nadir—“Creatives enjoy making simple things complex, rather than vice versa”—it ranks among the most baffling things ever written about creativity.

Commenters have heaped scorn on poor Chamorro-Premuzic, to the extent that I must almost apologize for adding to the criticism. But I’m intrigued by the views that prop up articles like this. Why do these misconceptions about creative work persist in an era of supposed innovative enlightenment?

The premise that underpins this and many similar articles is that creativity is a binary property: some people are blessed (or cursed) with it, others aren’t. This establishes a subtle, unwelcome construct. Creative types are “The Other”: fundamentally irregular people who don’t quite gel with the rest of society (“The Same”). Indeed, what it means to be Same is usually defined in part by not being Other.

While the language of Otherness is sometimes a deliberate tool of oppression, more often it reflects the unthinking bias of the speaker and era. Chamorro-Premuzic’s framing of creative people as The Other is no doubt unintentional. But the archetype is clear nonetheless.

[Full article]

Flashmob Recreates Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” in a Dutch Shopping Mall

Men in costume

Men in costumeFlashmob actors posed as in paintingThe European banking sector may still be on shaky footing. But it’s not stopping European banks from putting together a good flashmob. Last year, the Spanish bank, Banco Sabadell, brought together 100 professional musicians and singers to perform the anthem of the European Union — Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Symphony No. 9. And movingly so. It all happened in the Plaça de Sant Roc in Sabadell, Spain, a little north of Barcelona.

This year, we travel north to the city of Breda in Holland, where the Dutch multinational bank ING paid performers to recreate Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch, in a shopping center. The occasion? The re-opening of The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on April 13 after a long 10-year renovation.

via The Guardian

[Full article]