The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 50, December 13, 2015, Article 12

ALBERT PICK (1922-2015)

In the December 10, 2015 issue of CoinsWeekly, Ursula Kampmann published a great article on paper money author Albert Pick. With permission, here it is in its entirety. Thanks! But first, here is Ursula's introduction to the issue. -Editor

There are only some few German numismatists who are known to a world-wide numismatic community. One of those is Albert Pick, the founder of notaphily. He has not only written seminal books about the history of paper money, but also a catalog that became famous to such an extent that, nowadays, you just need the Pick number in order to know exactly which banknote is meant.

The reason for the incredible fame of Albert Pick is both, his phenomenal expertise and the fact that most of his books were translated into English almost immediately. To Pick, this was important. And he had good reason for that. In the 1970s, he was one of a handful of Germans who spoke pretty good English. He had learned it during the year he had spent in the US, as a POW, a prisoner of war after the German defeat in World War II.

Pick lacked any bitterness that he was forced to spend a whole year of his life in captivity. He liked to speak the language of those who had offered him “their hospitality”. To him, the end of the war was the beginning of a new life. Albert Pick must have had many good experiences during that year. It was his desire to give his “hosts” something in return, something he possessed in abundance: numismatic knowledge. With this man, who died on November 21, 2015, CoinsWeekly honors a numismatist who has built numismatic bridges to a country he had fought with a weapon in his hands when he was young.

Here's the full text of the article on Pick. -Editor

There are only a few who are so closely connected with a sub-discipline of numismatics as Albert Pick. Up to the present day, paper money collectors throughout the world state the Pick numbers to make sure that are properly understood when referring to a specific bank note. In doing this, they honor this pioneer and collector who has not only written books on the subject of collecting but assembled one of the most important collections of paper money himself.

Born on May 15, 1922, in Cologne, Albert Pick is said to have been only eight years old when he started collecting paper money. In 1930, he got two emergency bank notes for one pfennig. That was a small amount of capital well-invested. As an interest, it brought him a lifelong interest in history and far away countries. First, however, he shared the fate of many Germans. From the school desk he was sent to the front, and became a prisoner of war after WWII. Albert Pick lived in the United States of America for one year where he acquired his outstanding English skills for which he was often praised by his American friends.

Albert Pick

After returning, Albert Pick studied German studies, philosophy, and history. Until 1964, he headed the Kölner Universitätsverlag as managing director. And during that time he collected. He collected to an extent that it is hard to imagine nowadays, and that was more or less due to the fact that the collecting area he was interested in, bank notes, had not even come into existence at that time.

180,000 bank notes were assembled by Albert Pick: a huge collection that far exceeded the means of one individual in terms of storage, documentation and conservation. For this reason, he gave the assemblage to the Bavarian Mortgages and Exchange Bank in 1964. At the same time, the bank appointed him curator of his own collection, thus providing Pick with the opportunity to continue purchasing. 300,000 bank notes currently form part of the collection which, in 2003, was incorporated into the HBV Stiftung Geldscheinsammlung which closely collaborates with the Staatliche Münzsammlung München.

In addition to his duties as a curator, Albert Pick made use of the vast amount of material available to him. Accessing it, he wrote many seminal books on the subject of paper money. Published in 1964, his ground-breaking book “Papiergeld” (Paper Money) provided the first historical overview of this specialist field. In 1970, his paper money catalog “Europa seit 1900” (Europe since 1900) was released.

Indeed pioneering was Pick’s decision the following year, to have this work translated into English. That made both his person and his book internationally known. Published in 1975, his “Standard Catalog of World Paper Money” was the hour of birth of the Pick number system which is used down to the present day.

Right from the start, Albert Pick focused on internationality. That is why he belongs to the few German numismatists which are widely known with American collectors as well. The young soldier of the past, who used to fight on behalf of a criminal regime, seized the opportunity to embark on a peaceful mission and build a bridge between German and American collectors.

On November 21, 2015, Albert Pick died in a nursing home at the age of 93. With him, we lose a numismatic legend.

To read the complete article, see:
Albert Pick (1922-2015) (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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