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Collecting the Zimbabwe Trillion Series



A recent effort in notes collecting

I recently started collecting the Zimbabwe Trillion Series of notes. If most people are like me you might initially think that the Trillions Series refers only to the last 4 notes that are denominated in the trillions of dollars (10, 20, 50, and 100 Trillion dollars). The full series actually includes over 25 notes. The denominations run from 1 dollar to the infamous 100 trillion note. This series ran from 2007 to 2009 and come after the Bearer Cheque Series of notes that ran from 1 cent to 100 Billion from 2006 to 2007.

If I understand the situation correctly (I freely admit I could be wrong on some of this, I'm still working on learning and reading about some of what went on and how this matches up with the notes), the Bearer Cheque Series constitutes what is generally referred to as the "2nd Dollar." The "2nd dollar" period followed after 3 zeros were chopped off the money in the first redenomination (ending the "1st Dollar"). Then the Trillion Series picked up after 10 more zeros were chopped off in the 2nd redenomination, marking the beginning of the "3rd Dollar." The "4th Dollar" (which there is a PMG registry option for - which gives me hope that we'll see a 3rd Dollar option one day) was issued in February 2009 following the 3rd redenomination -- but only for a few months. They chopped another 12 zeros off in the 3rd redenomination and then finally just gave up and stopped issuing their own money entirely in April 2009. The 100 trillion dollar notes were worth 10^27 of the pre-hyperinflation first dollars. The multiple revaluations and series of notes was a major source of confusion - for me anyway - and kept me from understanding for a long time just how bad the currency devaluation was during those few years and it still leaves me a bit fuzzy over the whole timeline.

I've wanted to build a set like this in one way or another for a long time - basically since I started collecting coins again - in part because this set of notes and events is tied to why I got back into coin collecting. I was getting interested in coin collecting in 2006-2007 and reading articles on coinflation.com, many of which talked about what was happening in Zimbabwe at the time. For me, the coins and the paper money, the art and the beauty of it all, the gradual loss of value of the dollar and other paper currencies, and discussion of what would likely come in the future was all wrapped up together in this big interesting story that appealed to me as the son of a history teacher. I think the process engineer in me also loved the idea of looking at all of it in the context of a changing system over time and the dynamics of that systemic change.

It really intrigued me and I wanted to at least get one of the 100 Trillion notes as a conversation piece but at the time interest in the notes was high and the notes were going for -- what I felt at the time -- insanely too much money. The funny thing is, 8 years later, I don't remember what they were going for at the time. I just remember thinking the price wasn't worth it to me. For all I know the prices I'm buying the notes at now could be just as high as what they were then -- it might just be that this time I have more money and I'm more willing to spend it on the notes. I don't know - lol. I wonder some days if the prices really did come down after some time passes and the interest dropped or if I'm just looser with money now. It's funny how perspectives can change, even over relatively short periods of time.

I didn't think about it for years, but I thought of it when I started buying silver again. My wife was looking at me like I was a little crazy over the silver (maybe more than a little). I remembered these notes, remembered wanting to collect them, and realized that they might help me win her over on the silver by showing her why I wanted the silver bars as an inflation hedge. (Maybe I thought they might help me win her over and then remembered that I wanted them anyway. Anyway -- the thoughts were linked!) As it happens they actually worked really well in that regard. She was shocked when I started showing her the notes and telling her about the speed with which the money was devalued during the hyperinflationary period. Of course it helps that she doesn't really trust the stock market any more than I do these days.

So I looked into what those notes were going for on eBay again late last year. I found that they weren't all that expensive (by my current standards anyway) and a new collection/project was born! I'll stop there for now though because this is already a little long...

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