Gradually, Then Suddenly
ZIM8, 1994, 50 ZWD

Slot Comment:

1st Dollar Banknote EY Prefix

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Note Details

 

Set Details

Note Description: 50 Dollars 1994 - Wmk: Zimbabwe Bird
Grade: 66 EPQ
Country: Zimbabwe
Note Number: ZIM8
Signatures/
Vignettes:
- Sign. #3
Certification #: 1626365-021
Owner: Revenant
Set Category: World
Set Name: Gradually, Then Suddenly
Slot Name: ZIM8, 1994, 50 ZWD
Research: See PMG's Census Report for this Note

Owner's Description

When the Zimbabwe dollar was introduced in 1980, they didn’t have $50 notes. The denominations topped out at $20. The introduction of this note in 1994 is therefore one of the first signs in the currency itself that the Zimbabwe dollar’s value was in decline, it was taking more dollars to buy things, and that larger denominations would be needed going forward. The official inflation rate in 1994 was 25%. The next year, in 1995, the first $100 note was introduced amid 28% inflation. The first $500 note followed in 2001, the first year inflation exceeded 100%, with an official rate of 112.1%.

Acquiring this note and having the first dollar notes feature so prominently in this set was not one of my original goals for the set. However, I’m impressed by and taken with the first dollar notes. I think they have a level of artistry and beauty that I don’t think was ever again matched by the 2nd, 3rd or 4th dollars. I think that is another statement on how things change as hyperinflation sets in. I think many nations view their currency with a certain sense of pride. The governments try to dazzle with eye-appealing images that show and share something about the country, what it values and what makes it special in the eyes of its own people. As hyperinflation sets in though the idea of the currency as point or source of national pride and a means of expressing national identity seems to decline, as does the care and artistry that goes into the notes.

The Zimbabwe regular banknotes feature an image of the Chiremba balancing rock formation - three balancing rocks that are in Matobo National Park. The image of the stones was chosen as a metaphor for balancing development and environmental protection following the country’s transition from white-ruled Rhodesia to the majority black ruled Zimbabwe. The Matobo Hills are composed entirely of granite and it makes for some unique and interesting formations.

The Reverse of this note shows the “Great Zimbabwe Ruins” - the largest collection of ruins in Sub-Saharan Africa. They were built between the 11th and 15th centuries and are located between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. This set of ruins is the largest set but not the only one. Smaller sites are located as far away as Mozambique. The structures are made of granite. They’re a source of great national pride, however, they’ve been extensively plundered over time by treasure-hunters and others and this has complicated efforts to learn about the culture that built them – a culture apparently referred to as “Great Zimbabwe.”

This note is one of five that my wife and I ordered together as my 3rd anniversary present from her.

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