We use cookies in order to provide you with an optimal website experience. These include cookies that are technically or legally necessary for operating our site and controlling our commercial business objectives as well as cookies that are used for anonymous statistical purposes, monitoring comfort settings or displaying personalized content. The decision as to which types of cookies to allow is up to you. Please note that, based on your settings, some features of our website might not be accessible for you. For more information, see Details and Settings.


These cookies are absolutely vital for operating our site. They are required for security reasons or are necessary from a legal point of view.
*They cannot be deactivated.

In order to improve our website for you further, we collect anonymous data for statistical and analytical purposes.

These cookies are intended to facilitate use of our website for you. Your settings can be saved for 30 days.

The ”Zettelbank“ – Goethe and Friedrich Metzler

Goethe and Friedrich Metzler in Metzler's bathing temple in Offenbach: for Germans, this description evokes an image similar to the famous bathing scene depicted by German satirist Loriot, but it also has a real background.

In 1790, Friedrich Metzler and other Frankfurt bankers decided to establish a so-called ”Zettelbank“ – a note-issuing bank. At that time, banknotes did not exist – just a multitude of different coins because Germany’s structure was a patchwork of small states. The purpose of the Zettelbank was to simplify complicated payment transactions. However, the Napoleonic Wars got in the way of this brilliant idea, so it didn’t become reality until 1854 when the Frankfurt Bank was founded.

What does this have to do with Goethe? Goethe and Friedrich Metzler shared a lifelong friendship. The poet visited the banker in 1814/15 at his estate in Offenbach where the bathing temple was located. Even Goethe was amazingly far-sighted when it came to money. His most famous work, Faust, isn’t just a problematic love story, it’s also about money. In the first act of part two, Faust solves a country's financial problems in one fell swoop by introducing paper money.

There’s no evidence to prove that any conversation ever took place between Goethe and Metzler, but we can imagine the two financial market experts talked about the power of money and the paper money idea. And why not over a leisurely chat in the bathtub?

Friedrich Metzler and Goethe
© Thomas Plaßmann, Perhaps he should consider a note-issuing bank, Mr. City Councilor? Great idea!