Gradually, Then Suddenly
ZIM98, 2009, 500 ZWL

Slot Comment:

4th Dollar Banknote AA Prefix - Sequential Notes

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Note Details


Set Details

Note Description: 500 Dollars 2009
Grade: 66 EPQ
Country: Zimbabwe
Note Number: ZIM98
- Sign. #8
Certification #: 1804776-013
Owner: Revenant
Set Category: World
Set Name: Gradually, Then Suddenly
Slot Name: ZIM98, 2009, 500 ZWL
Research: See PMG's Census Report for this Note

Owner's Description

Annnnnd…. Done! This is it! The last banknote issued before the final demise and demonetization of the Zimbabwean dollar and the first (sequence of) Zimbabwean national currency (currencies).

The government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe put issuance of the Zimbabwean currency “on hold” in 2009 for “at least a year.” They would officially and finally demonetize the currency in 2015. As such, it has been 10 years since Zimbabwe issued banknotes in their own currency (Note: The bond notes issued starting in November 2016 are not supposed to be / considered to be currency).

It is perhaps one of life’s cruelest ironies that, after the country abandoned the use of its own currency, the country entered a deflationary period with “inflation” in 2009 hitting an all-time low of -7.7 percent, if measured in USD. The country was still experiencing modest deflation in 2015 when the country officially demonetized the last of the Zimbabwean currency – these 4th dollars – in August of that year. Some articles from early 2016 put the average deflation rate in 2015 at 2-4% with prices falling at a rate of about 0.5-1.0% in early 2016.

In 2015, when the final demonetization occurred, the Zimbabwean government stated that it would credit US$5 to domestic bank accounts, with balances of up to 175 quadrillion ZWL, and that it would exchange Zimbabwean dollars for US dollars at a rate of US$1 to 35 quadrillion ZWL to accounts with balances above 175 quadrillion ZWL.

The government tried to bring back a national currency and banknotes, first in 2016 with the “quasi-currency of the bond notes – pegged to and backed by the US dollar - and then with the RTGS dollar in 2019. So how long the “hold” lasted depends on how you look at it. The country went 7.5 years without issuing notes – from Jan 2009 to November 2016. But because the official demonetization of the 4th dollar didn’t occur until 2015, the country was only, arguably, officially, without a national currency for 1 year if you consider the 2016 issuance of the bond notes to be the start of a new currency system, or 3 years if you don’t end it until the RTGS was made official in 2019.

While the 4th dollar wasn’t in circulation very long, the release of new 1-dollar through 500-dollar notes so shortly after the release of the same denominations as part of the third dollar series forced the government to once again redesign and change up the layout of the notes so that the new 4th dollars wouldn’t be confused with that all-to-recently-released 3rd dollars.

The 3rd dollars had used two small, square images to decorate the back of the notes. The 4th dollars returned to having a single large visual, similar to the first dollars. The 4th dollars appear to re-use the same artwork as was used on the first dollars, but with changes made to the coloring used, other design elements of the note, and what denomination the artwork appeared on. As a result of the layout of the designs and the coloration, in some ways the 4th dollar notes look like a cross or a blending between the 1st dollars and the 3rd dollars, with the front of the notes looking very similar to that of the 2nd dollar Agro Check Series (ZIM61-64).

The 500 dollar 4th dollar notes use elephant artwork on the back that appears to be the same artwork used on the 1000 dollar 1st dollar notes (ZIM12). There’s an interesting parallel with this artwork decorating the last banknotes of both the 1st dollar and 4th dollar issues. For more information on elephants in Zimbabwe, see the note description on my ZIM12b note.

Further underscoring the fact that they were trying hard to make sure no one confused the 3rd dollar and 4th dollar notes - the dominant color on this 4th dollar note is green, where the $500 note from the 3rd dollar series is most a kind of purple-ish pink.

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