Pittman Family ZWD, 1st Dollar, Bankotes
20 DOLLARS 1994-2004 ISSUE P7

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Note Details

Set Details

Note Description: Zimbabwe, Reserve Bank
20 Dollars 1997 - Wmk: Zimbabwe Bird
Grade: 67 EPQ
Country: ZIM
Note Number: ZIM7
- Sign. #3
Certification #: 8071243-081  
Owner: Revenant
Sets Competing: Pittman Family ZWD, 1st Dollar, Bankotes  Score: 41
Date Added: 5/7/2020
Research: See PMG's Census Report for this Note

Owner's Description

The notes of the first dollar all have a watermark depicting one of two versions of the “Zimbabwe bird.”

The Zimbabwe bird sculptures were soapstone carvings found in the Great Zimbabwe Ruins during the excavation of the ruins in the late 19th century. The bird - which is thought to represent a Bateleur Eagle - is featured on many walls and monoliths in the ancient city. The ruins and carvings themselves are believed to date from between the 13th and 16th century per some sources (others I’ve found say 11th to 15th).

The bird / these carvings of a bird are featured heavily on the currency and coins of both Zimbabwe and Rhodesia (what the country was called before independence in 1980). A couple of different versions of this image were used as watermarks on the currency from 1980 to around 2007 and then it was used for a small, optically variable ink security feature in later notes of the 3rd dollar series. A version of this bird image is on the flag and coat of arms of Zimbabwe, and it was on the flag and coat of arms of Rhodesia, but those versions of the image / bird do not appear to be quite the same as this one - the version on the Zimbabwean flag seems distinctly different from the version on the coins and currency.

Cecil Rhodes took five of these carved birds to South Africa in the late 1800s. Four of the five were returned by the South African government after Zimbabwean independence in the 1980s. The fifth remains at Rhodes’ former home in Cape Town - strange that they did not give that one back too.
The bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) is a medium-sized eagle - which, with a 6 foot wingspan and a 22 to 28 inch body is still a pretty big bird, that weighs in at around 4.0-7.5 lbs. It is native to Africa and some parts of Arabia. The bateleur is hunter and scavenger. They are egg thieves and carrion eaters that hunt and steal from other, smaller, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. They are thought to live up to about 27 years. They’re considered endangered, are common enough in conservation areas and rare elsewhere.

The bird gets its name from the French word for “street performer.”

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 back of this note features an image of Victoria Falls, but it is not the same image used on the earlier P-4 notes (the previous $20 notes) and it does not seem to have ever been re-used on the currency in later series as of mid-2020. The P-4 artwork – which was later re-used in the 2nd dollar series – uses a perspective from the ground and also features an elephant. This note uses an aerial view of the falls. The decision to re-use the P-4 artwork in later series may be the reason why this artwork was not re-used.

Victoria Falls is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is considered the largest. This is based on its combined width of 1,708 meters (5,604 feet) and height of 108 meters (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by Argentina’s and Brazil's Iguazu Falls.

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