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I've Been Everywhere, Man! (Part 1)

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Fenntucky Mike

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If you like collecting varieties (and I do) there are tons of them out there for Ukrainian notes, and probably my favorite varieties to collect are for the 1918-1921 1,000 Karbovantsiv banknote. It's a great note to collect by variety as it is probably the most readily available note from that period, it's fairly cheap (especially in lower grades), and it will definitely keep you on your toes as there are many varieties, especially if you collect by prefix. Before we get to the varieties let's start with some background on the note itself.

In 1918, Kyiv, the newly established Ukrainian People's Republic (1917) was in a state of flux, as it was for its entire existence, with war raging on several fronts and the Arsenal Uprising threatening to topple the Central Rada. In early February the uprising was suppressed, but shortly thereafter Russian forces captured the city on February 9th, remaining in control until March 1st. During this time the cliché for the 1917 issued 100 Karbovantsiv banknote was taken and forgeries printed, resulting in the note's removal from circulation and official demonetization on November 1, 1918. Also, on the same day that Russian forces had captured Kyiv, Ukraine signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire), in which Ukraine was recognized as a neutral state. Shortly after signing the treaty, German and Austro-Hungarian military forces were sent to Kyiv to clear Russian-Bolshevik forces from the city and Ukraine. By April tensions were rising between Ukraine's Central Rada and the assisting foreign forces which eventually led to a coup d'état on April 29th, orchestrated by the German lead military forces still present in Kyiv. The Ukrainian People's Republic was toppled and Pavlo Skoropadsky inserted as Hetman of the autocratic Ukrainian State. Thus begins the story of the 1,000 Karbovantsiv banknote. 

Contemporary Counterfeit of a 100 Karbovantsiv note, using the captured cliché. 

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50 Karbovantsiv cliché used to print banknotes.

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Hetman Skoropadsky's Ukrainian State was instrumental in organizing quality printing of banknotes in a remarkably short period of time (summer-fall 1918). The entire printing department needed an overhaul, and no expense was spared in modernizing. Printing presses were acquired from the Leipzig based firm of Karl Krause, the world's leading manufacturer of printing equipment, several types of paper were ordered from Deutsche Reichsdruckerei and 370 poods of Hostmann-Steinberg specialty inks. In all likely hood the lithography stones were also purchased from Germany, as records for the purchase of expendable materials mention lithography stones but from a different time. With everything in place, and a design ready, the first 1,000 Karbovantsiv notes were printed on No. 217 paper with the Wellen (waves) watermark, in Kyiv, and in circulation by December 1918. Four series of notes were produced, prefix АБ, АА, АВ, and АГ all in red ink.

1,000 Karbovantsiv note of Kyiv, 1918.

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The printing of 1,000 Karbovnatsiv banknotes did not last long in Kyiv. By November an uprising had led to the restoration of the UPR, under control of a Directoria, followed closely by the withdrawal of German forces from Kyiv, the abdication of Skoropadsky on December 14, 1918, and the fleeing of the Government and removal of UPR troops from Kyiv on February 5, 1919, before Russian forces retook the city. Prior to the Russian reoccupation all government offices, including the Treasury Printing Office with its valuable property, had been evacuated. Among the items saved were the lithographic stones used to produce 1,000 karbovantsiv banknotes. No printing supplies, of any kind, were known to have been obtained by the advancing Russian forces at this time.

Lithography Stones of the 1,000 Karbovantsiv banknote.

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All printing equipment and supplies were moved to Kamianets-Podilsky, the Treasury Printing Office was "billeted" in the former Orthodox Seminary building, and it was there that the printing of Ukrainian paper money resumed in the summer and fall of 1919. By the spring the printing office had run out of certain expendables (paper, ink, etc.) and on March 28, 1920 the decision was made to print 1,000 Karbovantsiv notes on No 227 paper with the Stern-Staffel (linked-stars) watermark. Not long after relocating, the city fell under Polish control (November 16, 1919 to July 12, 1920), during which the Warsaw Treaty was signed between the Second Polish Republic and Ukraine in an effort to create an alliance against Bolshevik Russia. Subsequently, printing of the 1,000 Karbovantsiv note was moved to Warsaw. Six series of notes were produced in Kamianets-Podilsky, prefix АН & АО on No 217 paper with wavy lines (waves) watermark and prefix АА, АВ, АБ and АГ on No 227 paper with linked-stars watermark.

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As previously mentioned, the next and final stop for the 1,000 Karbovantsiv banknote was Warsaw. With Russian forces advancing on Kamianets-Podilsky the printing operations were relocated to Warsaw. By November of 1920 the UPR lost the remainder of its territory to the Bolsheviks, and on March 18, 1921 the Treaty of Riga between the Second Polish Republic and Soviet Russia was signed, effectively terminating the UPR. Printing of 1,000 Karbovantsiv notes began on July 5, 1920 and would continue, not continuously, until 1921. After which an independent Ukrainian State or governing body ceased to exist. 1,000 Karbovantsiv notes printed in Warsaw are distinguished by the letter "W" present on the font of the note. Presumably this was added to the existing lithography stones. There were only two series of notes produced in Warsaw, AE & AI on paper containing no watermark. Zig-Zag lines or varnish were added to the surface of the paper in place of a watermark, the varnish can be present on the front, back, or both sides of the notes. There is a possibility of a third series printed in Warsaw but that has yet to be confirmed. 

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The 1,000 Karbovantsiv banknote was the note the public trusted the most and which were in highest demand. These notes would often trade for 1,500 even 1,700 Karbovantsiv in depreciated and unpopular 250 Karbovantsiv notes. The proof is in the printing, as these were constantly produced over multiple locations and years during which several regime changes took place and a monetary shift from the Karbovanet to Hryvnia as the national currency. Due to the times and multiple printing locations these notes have several varieties both minor and major, some of which were touched on above. In the next entry I'll go more in-depth with those varieties.

Printing locations for the 1,000 Karbovantsiv banknotes on a WWI era map. Right to left, Kyiv, Kamianets-Podilsky, and Warsaw. 

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Mike, very interesting as someone who has an interest in die varieties for coins.

I thought PMG didn't grade counterfeits - I assume this applies to modern counterfeits rather than contemporary ones? Their FAQs don't seem to differentiate but I may be looking in the wrong place!

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On 1/3/2022 at 4:56 PM, ColonialCoinsUK said:

I thought PMG didn't grade counterfeits - I assume this applies to modern counterfeits rather than contemporary ones? Their FAQs don't seem to differentiate but I may be looking in the wrong place!

That's a good question, and maybe one for Jennifer in the Ask PMG section of the Forum. My interpretation is that PMG will grade contemporary and modern counterfeits depending on the context under which they were made, who produced them, available documentation, did they circulate, etc.. Could be mistaken and maybe they have a cut off 1957, which is what PMG considers the start of modern notes based on there submission tiers. (shrug) 2022, Russia printing counterfeits to disrupt modern Ukraine's economy, probably gradable. Me Xeroxing some Monopoly money, meh, probably not. lol

Any interest in banknotes my friend? I assume you have at least a few, most coin collectors do, and if true we like seeing stuff like that over here. :bigsmile:

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On 1/3/2022 at 11:01 PM, Fenntucky Mike said:

Any interest in banknotes my friend? I assume you have at least a few, most coin collectors do, and if true we like seeing stuff like that over here. :bigsmile:

There may be a Journal Entry or two in the future :ph34r:

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On 1/3/2022 at 11:01 PM, Fenntucky Mike said:

That's a good question, and maybe one for Jennifer in the Ask PMG section of the Forum.

Reply seems to be whether they are still redeemable at the bank or not - so it looks like older contemporary counterfeits should be OK. No population report for these though!

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On 1/20/2022 at 2:36 PM, ColonialCoinsUK said:

Reply seems to be whether they are still redeemable at the bank or not - so it looks like older contemporary counterfeits should be OK. No population report for these though!

Ahhh! You know I didn't even think about it but that makes perfect sense. If a contemporary was still redeemable and PMG graded, labeled it as such, and then returned the note that could, perhaps, make PMG liable in some fashion for "redistributing" the counterfeit.? I wonder if they would be compelled to report or destroy such a note if one was sent to them? I'm probably WAY overthinking this. lol Although it seems more than a little bogus that PMG would not list contemporary counterfeits in the Pop Report, that is not an entirely accurate statement. The 100 Karbovantsiv counterfeit in my journal entry IS listed in the Ukraine population report. Now, maybe that was a mistake and they are going to delete it next week but....(shrug)

https://www.pmgnotes.com/population-report/ukraine/ukraine/100-karbovantsiv/  

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Ok, :taptaptap: I saw your reply to Jennifer and don't think for a second that it didn't make me even more curious as to what notes you may have. :roflmao:

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