Unlike the Papiermark, Germany's national currency from 1914 to 1924, notgeld was not backed by the Federal Government and was thus valid only in the municipalities in which it was issued.
The idea for a Meissen-produced notgeld originated with Max Adolf Pfeiffer, the factory's prescient director.
Durability of both the porcelain and the stoneware coins was a primary concern, so all Meissen notgeld designs incorporated raised rims and concave faces.
The Numismatist, an American magazine of the time, lambasted examples of Meissen's notgeld for 'an entire absence of artistic effect' and a modeling that made them 'almost hideous' (Duffield, 1921: 294).
A bust portrait of Martin Luther proved to be one of the Meissen factory's most popular notgeld designs.
The ceramic notgeld produced at Meissen and other German factories in the early 1920s held certain advantages over metal coinage, such as ease of cleaning and freedom from corrosion.
Moreover, due to their novelty and the value adhering to them through the Meissen factory reputation, porcelain and stoneware notgeld coins were hoarded by collectors and tourists from around the world.
Because the Reichsbank's printing presses and note-distribution arrangements were insufficient for the situation, a law was passed permitting, under license and against the deposit of appropriate assets, the issue of emergency money tokens, or Notgeld
, by state and local authorities and industrial concerns when the Reichsbank could not satisfy needs for wage payment.