Research shows a pervasive emergence of monetary plurality during episodes of social, economic and political demise. We draw on the concept of deep monetisation introduced by Lucassen and Zuijderduijn (2014) to follow how the established use of currencies enables economic actions to complete their daily transactions. Based on numismatic evidence, we briefly revise several episodes of deep economic demise to establish a links between socio-economic crisis and monetary plurality. In these periods the stronger and more established currencies disappeared and cash became scarce at the local level, particularly for transactions of smaller denomination. We subsequently focused on the emergency currencies of the two postwar periods in Europe, the hyperinflation, the Great Depression and the Spanish Civil war. We observed that in these periods of distress, the absence of means of payment of small denomination prevented the completion of daily transactions, hence improvised and unknown local money appeared as better than no money at all. We find that the emergency currencies were temporary solutions for the lack of small change at the local level while the contexts of socio-economic demise also provided windows of opportunity in the political sense for some activists’ groups to pursue monetary experimentation and structural changes with a longer term horizon.