Currency Wiki
1 pfennig
German pfennig 1917
1917 coin
General information

Flag of the German Empire German Empire

  • 0.01 gold mark (1873-1914)
  • 0.01 Papiermark (1914-1918)


Measurements and composition
  • 2 g (1873-1916)
  • 0.5 g (1916-1918)
  • 17.5 mm (1873-1916)
  • 16 mm (1916-1918)







State title, value, year

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The first 1 pfennig coin issued following the unification of Germany in 1871 was used by the German Empire from 1873 to 1889. An issue similar in design to the first was later introduced in 1890 and continued to be minted until 1916, when another similarly designed coin replaced it. This final coin was struck until 1918, the year that marked the downfall of the German Empire.



Coin from 1898.

The 1 pfennig coin of the German Empire was first issued in 1873, under provisions of the German Coinage Act of 1873. The Bundesrat, or federal council, of the German Empire was tasked with deciding the masses, diameters, and designs of most early coinage of the Second Reich. The coin is composed of copper, as mandated by the Coinage Act. It weighs 2 grams and measures approximately 17.5 millimeters in diameter. The Reichsadler of the Second Reich, at the time of first issuance a small crowned eagle with a large shield on its breast, is featured on the coin's obverse, accompanied by two mint marks of a letter between "A" and "J", excluding "I". Berlin is represented by an "A", Hanover by a "B", Frankfurt by a "C", Munich by a "D", Muldenhütten by an "E", Stuttgart by an "F", Karlsruhe by a "G", Darmstadt by an "H", and Hamburg by a "J". Displayed on the reverse is the coin's value in the center, with the legend "DEUTSCHES REICH" ("German Empire") and the year of minting inscribed above. Between 1873 and 1889, a total of about 478,415,317 1 pfennig coins were struck: 202,798,825 at Berlin; 42,538,070 at Hanover; 49,441,398 at Frankfurt; 52,900,000 at Munich; 29,278,025 at Muldenhütten; 44,325,000 at Stuttgart; 28,718,000 at Karlsruhe; 8,527,000 at Darmstadt; and 19,888,999 at Hamburg.

A new 1 pfennig coin was introduced in 1890 and was issued until 1916. The only major alteration was the obverse, which now featured the redesigned Reichsadler of the German Empire introduced in 1888. The eagle was relatively larger and the shield on its breast was decreased in size. By this time, the mints in Hanover, Frankfurt, and Darmstadt were closed, and the coins were only produced at Berlin, Munich, Muldenhütten, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, and Hamburg. From 1890 to 1916, at least 1,116,393,150 non-proof coins were minted: at least 604,811,000 at Berlin; 156,861,000 at Munich; 83,108,000 at Muldenhütten; 112,352,000 at Stuttgart; 68,093,000 at Karlsruhe; and 91,168,150 at Hamburg. An unknown number produced at Muldenhütten in 1905 feature a cross under the denomination on the reverse.

The German Empire introduced its final 1 pfennig coin in 1916. It was used until 1918, the year that marked the downfall of the Second Reich. Because copper was rather costly and Germany needed money to fund the it's army during the First World War, the 1 pfennig coin issued from 1916 to 1918 was struck in aluminum, a soft but inexpensive metal. Due to the lightness of the metal, the coin only weighs approximately 0.5 grams. It measures 16 millimeters in diameter, slightly smaller than the preceding issues. No design changes were made except for the Reichsadler, which was reverted to the form used on coins from 1873 to 1889, even though the symbol itself had not been majorly altered since 1888. More than 50,725,000 examples were produced. The 1916-G, 1918-A, and 1918-F 1 pfennig coins are the rarest varieties. The 1918-F coins were never put into circulation, and a handful were recovered from the remains of the Stuttgart Mint following the bombings of the city that occurred during World War II. The other mentioned varieties are likely uncommon for different reasons.

Pattern coins[]

Before the first 1 pfennig coin was issued in 1873, two copper 1 pfennig pattern coins were minted in 1870 and 1871. Subsequently, the Karlsruhe Mint struck 1 pfennig patterns each year from 1874 to 1876.

A zinc pattern based on the coin introduced in 1890 was produced at Berlin in 1915. This coin is missing portions of the Reichsadler on the obverse and the "1" on the reverse, possibly damaged or incomplete.

An iron pattern of the coin issued between 1916 and 1918 was struck at Berlin in 1915. It features the coin's year of minting below the value on the reverse. Additionally, an aluminum pattern from Berlin and an unmarked copper pattern were also minted in 1915. Aluminum coins were struck at Berlin and Stuttgart the following year, and a final unmarked aluminum pattern was produced in 1917.

See also[]

  • German 1 Rentenpfennig coin
  • German 1 Reichspfennig coin
  • German 1 pfennig coin (1948-2001)


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German Papiermark
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