Gradually, Then Suddenly
ZIM15, 2003, 1,000 ZWD

Slot Comment:

1st Dollar Emergency Travellers Check

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Note Details


Set Details

Note Description: 1000 Dollars ND (2003)
Grade: 65 EPQ
Country: Zimbabwe
Note Number: ZIM15
- Wmk: Zimbabwe Bird
Certification #: 8074632-085
Owner: Revenant
Set Category: World
Set Name: Gradually, Then Suddenly
Slot Name: ZIM15, 2003, 1,000 ZWD
Research: See PMG's Census Report for this Note

Owner's Description

The RBZ issued special traveler's checks in 2003 – the same year the $1,000 banknotes (P-12) were released. They came after the Cargill Bearer checks (P-13 and P-14) and ultimately had six denominations ranging from $1,000 (this note) to $100,000 (P-20). The issuance of these “emergency issue” checks at least partially overlaps with the issuance of the 1st dollar banknotes, which didn’t end until after the 2004 issuance of the P-11b (500 ZWD).

These series of emergency issue checks were short-lived due to their unpopularity with the public - Identification was required both during issue and cashing of these checks and they could only be used once by the bearer. Banks also levied a commission fee on the checks, which I am sure made them even more unpopular with the public.

These are interesting additions to my signature set / my larger Zimbabwe collection and the pick list because these are literal checks. They come from banks and not the RBZ and they were one-time only payment instruments. These were not banknotes or the kind of pseudo-banknotes represented by the RBZ Bearer checks that followed (P-21 to P-23 and P-28 to P-30, which had mostly the same denominations) or the 2nd dollar bearer checks and agro checks (P-33 to P-64). These were stamped and canceled when they were redeemed - as this one has been.

2003 was the first year that inflation officially exceeded 200% (even though 2002 came very close at 198.93%) and the inflation rate blew right past that milestone and the 500% milestone in the same year. In Jun 2002, US$1 was equal to $1,000, which would have made this note equal to a US $1 bill. By March 2005, however, US$1 was ZWD$10,000, and by January 2006 US$1 was equal to ZWD$100,000, meaning this note would have been worth 1 US cent.

By 2003, the country's economy had collapsed. It is estimated that up to a fourth of Zimbabwe's 11 million people had fled the country. Three-quarters of the remaining Zimbabweans were living on less than one US dollar a day.

It seems like there was some strange shifting back and forth with the Cargill and Traveler’s checks (P-13 to P-20 , 2003), then bearer checks (P-21 to P-23, 2003), then more traveler’s checks (P-24 to P-27, 2003) and then more bearer checks that are very similar to and seemingly a continuation of the earlier bearer check issues (P-28 to P-32, 2005-2006), at the same time you had the P-12 (2003) and P-11 (2001-2004) hitting the streets. This is all probably a very confusing outgrowth of the government struggling to deal with the emerging / accelerating hyperinflation – and doing a terrible job of it.

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