Saturday, July 23, 2016

Emergency Money - B 1914 - 1920 - 01 Belgium - Introduction 2

In order to have an idea of the value of some emergency notes, and of currency in 1914 in general, we need to know what the average costs of basic products were, as well as the income of a henchman, a factory worker, an independent worker ...

In 1914, a henchmen who could eat at work, earned about 1 belgian frank a day.
If food was not included, he gained 2 franks a day. A worker in a factory earned about 3 franks a day, and if you were an independent worker, you could earn up to 4 franks a day.

1 belgian franc (french version) 1914
To give an estimation of the value: in 1914, 1 franc equals 3 euro (3.2 USD) - in 1919 the same franc is only worth 1.9 euro (2 USD).

Secondly it's important to know the prices of most articles.

Shortly before the start of the First World War, sole (fish) was sold around 180-200 francs per lot. Turbot (fish) was sold at 3,50 francs a kilogam.
On the day the first World War started in Belgium, sole went down to 36 franks per lot, turbot to 0.20 franks a kilogram... This resulted in tons of rotting fish in the belgian harbour of Ostend.
On the other hand, that same day, potatoes went from 1 franc per 10 kg in the morning, to 1.6 francs in the evening.

In this table, a short overview of the prices (in Belgian francs) during the First World War:
evolution of prices during WWI in belgian francs
It is clear that the income of most people in Belgium - and most countries affected by the First World War, was insufficient to survive.
Thanks to the different commitees, and social organisations, this income was raised thanks to the emergency notes (coupons) that were distributed.
One of those committees at a certain moment gave support to people as follows :
3 francs for an adult man - 1.50 francs for an adult woman and 0.50 francs per child.
I could not find out if this was per week or per month.

To give at least one meal per day to its citizens, many cities organised free soup distribution among their citizens.  This was for many the one and only meal they had per day.

free soup distribution WWI
to be continued ....

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