Gradually, Then Suddenly
1 USD, 2009

Slot Comment:

Federal Reserve Note US Dollar - 2009 AA Block

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Note Details


Set Details

Note Description: $1 2009
Grade: 66 EPQ
Country: United States
Note Number: 3000-A
Seal Type: Green (D.C.)
Certification #: 8043783-095
Owner: Revenant
Set Category: World
Set Name: Gradually, Then Suddenly
Slot Name: 1 USD, 2009
Research: See PMG's Census Report for this Note

Owner's Description

At this point someone might fairly click on this note in this set saying, “Hold on!?! This is a set about Zimbabwean banknotes and checks! What is this FRN doing here?”

I’ve included this note to acknowledge and discuss the state of things in late 2008 and early 2009 as the people of the country de facto abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar, which, in turn, finally forced the government to abandon the currency or “suspend issuance.” And it would stay suspended. For 10 years. The first new Zimbabwean dollars would be issued in 2019 – but that is getting ahead of ourselves a bit.

What followed the suspension was a multi-currency system where-in other currencies were used in place of an independent national currency. This is not like the Eurozone where there is a European Central Bank issuing the money for all the countries in the Zone. Zimbabwe just did not have any money to call their own at this point – so they used that of their neighbors and those of major world powers and economies. Currencies that people still trusted to be worth something tomorrow.

The currencies in use within Zimbabwe during this period included the Australian dollar, the British pound, the Botswanan pula, the Chinese Yuan, the Euro, the Indian Rupee, the Japanese yen, the South African rand and, pre-dominantly, the US dollar. The US dollar is and has been the World Reserve Currency and it makes sense that it would take the lead in filling the void left by the final collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar. This led to what many referred to as the “Dollarization” of the economy – meaning that the economy had switch over to running on / using the US dollar as the de facto unit of commerce.

However, this does not mean that things normalized at this point in Zimbabwe or that this multi-currency system did not lead to behaviors and activities that might otherwise seem truly bizarre to people who have never had to endure such economic conditions and hardships.

US banknotes are only designed to survive in circulation for a certain amount of time -about 18-20 months, depending the source referenced. They wear out much more easily than coins (and I guess there were not a lot of US presidential dollars and Sacagawea golden dollars making it out that way). In Zimbabwe, the notes are used much longer – possibly several years, until they just literally fall apart - and are put in some very unhygienic places (like people’s underwear). In attempts to extend the life of the notes, some of the country’s people resorted to literally washing US $1 bills and hanging them out on clothes lines to dry. Articles in both the UK-based Daily Mail and the Washington Times from July 2010 discuss the practice, complete with pictures.

At the time when I found it, I thought this note was the perfect choice to represent the US $1 note in this set for this entry because it is a 2009 dated AA-block note. 2009 was the year the 4th dollar was suspended. All the 3rd and 4th dollars started out with AA prefixes. Some of the earlier 3rd dollar notes were in use long enough to have AB and AD prefixes but the later 3rd dollar notes and the 4th dollar notes did not. I’ve only ever seen AA prefixes on the Billions and Trillions notes of the 3rd dollars and the 4th dollar notes.

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