JUDENPFENNIGE (Ger. for "Jews' Pennies"), small coins issued by Rhineland Jews. When Prussia stopped issuing small change in 1808, a serious lack of coins in the lower denominations was felt in the Rhineland. To overcome these difficulties, some Jews issued copper coins in denominations of Pfennig and Heller. As these were nonofficial issues, they gave them imaginary names, such as "Atribuo," "Halbac," or "Theler." These coins were somewhat lighter than the official coins. They bear fictitious designs, such as a coat of arms, a star, a wreath, a lion, a cock, and others, and carry the dates of 1703, 1740, 1807, 1809, 1810, 1818, 1819, 1820, and 1821. In 1821, however, the Prussian mint renewed the issue of small change, thereby putting a rather abrupt end to these illegal monetary enterprises. The authorities appointed a special unit, the Muenzpolizei ("coin police"), whose task was to confiscate these coins and to bring to court those who produced and distributed them. It is not known where they were struck. Some Jews seem to have made immense profit by handling them. One Jew from the city of Neuss is said to have made 54,000 florins profit. One single Westphalian customs office collected about 940 kilograms of such coins.
E. Fellner, Die Muenzen von Frankfurt am Main, 2 vols. (1896–1903), 624ff., 855.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.