Recently, I saw an auction popup on eBay, a couple of Ukrainian shahiv "postage stamp currency" notes. What initially caught my eye was the 20 shahiv, which was missing the perforated edges.? The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money does not currently list an unperforated variety for this note, although they are known to exist, and if real it would be a great find. But after looking at the images more closely it just didn't look right to me, not that it wasn't genuine, but I was pretty sure it was trimmed. The only thing that was still a little misleading was that it was close in size to the 50 shahiv it was pictured next to, which had perforations. Since I wasn't 100% sure of whether it was trimmed or not, I decided to still pick up the lot if the price was right. These don't typically sell for much, especially in less than stellar condition.
Images from eBay seller.
After finishing with the 20 shahiv I now turned my attention to the 50, and it looked bad. The printing looked like garbage, the front design mushy and lacking details, the back the same and with incorrect text, font and size. I believed the 50 to be a contemporary counterfeit! This lot was now piquing my interest, a possible nonperforated 20 (but probably not) and a counterfeit, I decided I was now going to place a more aggressive bid on these. A few days later, as the auction was ending, I placed a snipe bid and won the lot for $11.61, $12.60 total with the shipping.
The notes arrived and I sat down and inspected the 20 shahiv. I first overlaid the nonperforated 20 over a perforated example I had, the nonperforated note was smaller than the perforated. Not good but not a deal breaker since if a sheet of nonperforated notes came off the press it would have to be cut into individual notes and if the cuts were off or done by hand the note could very well be smaller. Next, I looked at the cut quality, again not good, jagged, stops and starts and a large chunk in the lower left corner. Definitely looks like it was cut by hand, and that larger piece still attached in the lower left corner is probably the connecting tab between perforations. The final nail in the coffin was an examination under magnification in which remnants of the perforations are still visible. Well, not a shocker and a note that will just go into a top load and be labeled as "Trimmed" in my collection. Still an interesting piece, and I have a feeling it was trimmed at the time of issue or shortly after as the coloring of the edges seems to be consistent with the rest of the note.
Overlaid, trimmed over perforated.
Side by Side, perforated left, trimmed right.
Remnants of perforations still visible under magnification.
With the trimmed or nonperforated debate over on the 20 it was time to focus on the 50 shahiv note to determine whether or not it was counterfeit. In a side-by-side comparison to an authentic note in my collection the results were definitive. The printing on the suspected counterfeit was sloppy with lots of bleeding of ink throughout, there was a sever lack of details, especially in the background and wreath, the text was sized improperly and the font incorrect, and the paper used was of a lesser quality. The back suffered from all of the same symptoms that the front did, despite only containing a single line boarder (the boarder is just sad), Tryzub, and text. There is no doubt that this note is a counterfeit. The question of "is it contemporary" is still hanging out there, but I believe it to be as it has the look and feel of others that I've seen. Nice!
This was well worth the investment to acquire these, not that a trimmed/damaged 20 shahiv and a counterfeit 50 shahiv are worth anything, they're not, but the goodtime had in examining these notes and the knowledge gained was priceless. Plus the contemporary counterfeit is going to look great in my shahiv collection, it's listed in the SCWPM as Pick # 11x. For more on Ukrainian shahiv banknotes see my journal entry "Shahiv It Up, Baby, Now".