The Venezuelan hyperinflation and the Bolivar / Bolivar Fuerte (“Strong Bolivar”) / Boliver Soberano (“Sovereign Bolivar”) Series got my attention last year while I was heavy into building and shopping my Zimbabwe set. I think they are cool looking notes, I love the animals on the back, and I love the fact that some of them have turtles on them, in addition to being hyperinflation notes / series. I didn’t start collecting them though because I was neck-deep in Zimbabwe, I didn’t have the budget to do both and I’ve long since decided that I’m happier doing 1 thing well than doing 5 in a very random, haphazard way. So, I stuck with Zimbabwe.
But we are a year down the road now and my Zimbabwe set is a lot stronger and a lot more complete now. Many of the sub-sets in it and the collection overall is about 90% complete now and I am just hitting a point where making further progress is just going to keep getting harder and slower. So, it seems like a good time to consider branching out.
Last week I noticed a seller I have bought from before was auctioning a set of 6 Bolivar Fuerte notes. There were 6 denominations that would make about a half-complete set of the 13 denominations in that series. The starting price was low, and I knew based on prior eBay sales that the auction might end at about $13-14 a note after shipping for a mix of 66 EPQ, 67 EPQ and 1 68 EPQ notes – not a bad deal.
I knew that another dealer I have bought from before also had some of these already graded from PMG for good prices and that dealer had a 10% off sale going on this last weekend for the 4th. So, I decided to look at what they had and found that I could get 5 of the other 7 denominations from them in grades of 66 EPQ or 67 EPQ for $14 each - $12.60 after the discount / sale.
After seeing that I was suddenly very excited! If I could win the auction Sunday night and bought the other 5 on sale, I’d have made an 11 of 13 denom set in just 2 transactions over a weekend for just $140-160.
I did a little bit of looking and found that buying notes of similar grade one at a time from other dealers on eBay could potentially cost me $30-35 per note and / or would have required a fair bit more time and effort. I am pretty sure I would / will never get a chance to build this set easier or cheaper than this. So, I decided to just go for it!
I did end up winning the auction for $81 after shipping. That puts the total cost of all 11 notes at $144.95 – or about $13.18 per note on average. It is hard for me to imagine building a graded set of gem / superb gem notes cheaper than that – and 7 of the 11 will be 67 EPQ or higher.
One thing I very much like about this is that it is NOT another Zimbabwe set. The full Zimbabwe set is just so huge and building that has been such a commitment and such an undertaking – there are over 90 notes in it now. The Venezuelan set is comparatively small. Unless you start chasing varieties (which I am not going to do – for now) there are only 13 Fuerte notes and 11 Soberano notes so far (up to 2019) – 24 notes that’s it! That is smaller than the Zimbabwean 3rd dollar note set (27 notes) or the 2nd dollar bearer check series (28 notes) are individually. (Swiped the image below from an eBay merchant that is selling ungraded sets of the notes).
This will be a nice chance to research some new people, a new country, and figure out why these animals are significant enough to the country to want to put them on a banknote. I am just getting these Bolivar Fuerte notes for now and I am not going to be venturing into the Bolivar Soberano notes until later.
It really is scary just how much all of this “rhymes” historically with what happened in Zimbabwe just a few years prior… the first redenomination being 1000:1, the 2nd redenomination being bigger than the first, the changing of just the last letter of the ISO currency code every time… Scary. It is almost as if history repeats itself and people just do not learn.
My wife accuses me of trying to be the “Hyperinflation King of the Registry.” I disagree with this assertion, but I would have no problem with it if it happened. 😊