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Journal Entries posted by Revenant

  1. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Banknotes
    Back in early August a P-77 graded by PMG popped up and I got really excited. It would have completed the “Millions” set that PMG featured in an article last year and it would have put me only 1 note away from a complete 3rd dollar set.
    Unfortunately, the note went above $80 (after shipping and taxes) and I let it go. I just couldn’t convince myself to bid higher for it. Letting that go was a bitter pill - I wanted that thing.
    A couple of weeks ago, however, with the deadline for the registry awards looming another one popped up with a starting bid of $30. I won it for about $55 after shipping and taxes - a lot better than $75+.
    To my great shock and surprise, the note was delivered to my mailbox yesterday, on Thanksgiving day.

    (Side note: I frequently get confused at first glance with the one million P-77 and the ten million P-78 because they're both predominantly blue and they're only one zero away from each other. The P-78 is just darker blues on the whole. You really have to pay attention to the "ONE" and the "TEN.")
    (Second Side Note: If this note just had a 0 instead of a 1 or a 1 instead of a 0 it would be a Trinary Radar note. So close and yet... NOPE!)
    I know some people like to rag on anything that isn’t a 68 EPQ (), but this 67 EPQ is actually TOP POP for this note with a pop of 3 in grade and 10 total graded based on the current population report.
    So, with that, the “Millions" set is complete and the only note I lack for the 3rd dollar set is the P-72 - a note I never would have thought of or expected to be the last note outstanding when I started this. However, the P-72 is surprisingly hard to find / get in uncirc condition and PMG-graded examples tend to have asking prices in the $250-350 range. Even raw uncirc examples are usually asking $100-200 and you see heavily circulated rags that have prices of $20-$50 on them.
    People are asking that. I see no evidence that the sellers are getting that much / people are actually buying them at those prices.
    Still, it makes it difficult to get one. In some ways it makes it harder to swallow that price when I can find no evidence that anyone else is actually paying for that because it makes it feel more like the sellers are just trying to take advantage.
    Having finally scored the P-77, having this lone white whale out there is going to have me a little stumped and frustrated. That price feels really really  REALLY steep (especially given that I got my P-1d in 68 EPQ Star for $110 and got a 68 EPQ 20 Trillion also for $110 and we’re talking people asking $350 for a 65 EPQ), but it would complete the set. I just don't know if I'm willing to pay that though.
    3rd Dollars Complete:

    I'm very proud of how this set has progressed from the end of 2018 to the end of 2020.
    End of 2018, ~30%, 8/27 slots filled. (and, really, this is how we ended 2016 and it didn't change for 2 years)

    Today, Ending 2020, at 96% complete, 26/27 slots filled:

    Millions Set:

    As you might guess from the above shots of the complete 3rd dollar set, the Millions set didn't even exist really in 2016. It was a Billions and Trillions only set back then. I think I just had an empty place-holder set, and now it is complete.

    This also gives me a set that is complete from P-73 to P-104 and the P-72 is the only gap from P-47 to P-104… Somehow I need to find a way to attack that double gap at the P-45 and P-46.. and the P-40… One day. Most of those are another story of sellers wanting way above market rates for notes in grades that are less-than-stellar.
  2. Revenant
    I got the bulk lot of six Venezuelan notes in the mail on Thursday, and, after letting them wait / sit a while I opened them today.

    This is such a funny group of notes because, the Bolivar Fuertes series has 6 designs where 6 portraits and 6 animals & nature scenes are paired and this same sequence of 6 note designs is repeated twice in the series in the same order. This group of 6 that I bought together has an odd-ball 2 Bolivar notes and not the 500 Bolivar note that would match up with all the other notes in the sequence from 1,000 to 20,000, so you get all 6 portraits and designs, but in kind of a weird way - with one odd-ball denom from much earlier in the series than the rest of them.

    Unlike a lot of the Zimbabwe notes I've been snapping up lately these were NOT graded recently. Many of those new Zimbabwe notes in my set have 807XXXX- cert numbers and some even have the latest gen labels.
    These Venezuelan notes have cert numbers ranging from 17409XX- to 25066XX- and they're all in the older gen PMG holders. And you can tell because they're in that older polymer that has a lower transmittance and has a kind of blue tint to it.

    I'm really wondering if the seller got these things graded in bulk years ago when the notes where new (circa 2015-2017) and they finally got tired of having them. Maybe these "Medley lot" sales have just been their way of (finally) clearing / dumping old inventory.
    Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. I'm still thrilled to have gotten to fill out this set on the cheap, but it's still a little funny to think about what the "story" of these notes and this set might be.
    The other group of 5 notes I bought during the 4th of July sale arrived in the mail today. I won't open those until Monday or Tuesday probably.
  3. Revenant
    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. 😊
  4. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Banknotes
    So I ran across this and couldn't help but laugh.
    First: They're showing a picture of a 67 EPQ graded note for the listing but they aren't selling PMG graded notes. They're selling a brick of uncirc notes. But don't worry! The picture is for reference only! It isn't meant to deceive the buyer in any way!
    Second: At this price, for 5,000 notes, that puts the lot at $2,000 per note. Even if they were selling PMG graded notes these notes would go for ~$200 if you were getting a good price and selling them individually.

    And there's 2 available!
    It always makes me laugh when I see these things . The simple fact that these things (the 20 trillion, the 50 trillion, and the 100 trillion) can be bought by the brick in uncirc condition is the best proof you should need that they probably shouldn't be going for $50-200 each!
    I like this series but I see this and immediately think, "Oh come on now!?!?"
    … and 607 watchers! Lots of popcorn I think. 

    This can be such an odd series to collect just because there are so many people out there that just don't seem to have gotten the memo that the hype these things had 10 years ago is gone and the supply glut is still real and the bottom fell out of this set.
    If I remember right I bought my P-91 about 5 years ago in 67 EPQ for $45 and I think that's one of the few notes in the series going for more now than it did 5 yeas ago.
  5. Revenant
    So we're about 17 days away from the cut-off for consideration in the 2020 Registry Awards. The ad campaigns so to speak are in full swing - I've gotten the emails, seen the Instagram and Facebook posts. It's hard to miss when you follow their social media and spend time here. Anyway...
    This has gotten me thinking about how far the Zimbabwe set has come in the last year - something I take a lot of pride in. While my 3rd dollar set has been largely static at 92%, this year I think I've brought my 4th dollars from about 45% to 100%, my 2019-present series from 0% to 100% (as soon as the $20 comes in the mail in a few days) and made by biggest strides by far (IMO) in building out a 1st dollar set with an increasing number of varieties. I think my signature set has gone from having about 65 notes and about 90 slots to (soon) 104 notes with 110 slots.
    But I'm kind of kicking myself for something - I never screen-capped or made a record of what the set looked like at this time last year.
    PMG, unlike NGC, doesn't seem to save and post an archived record of what the #1 set in each category is each year - not that this would have completely solved my problem though because not all of my sets are #1 ranked. But it would have helped.
    So, I'm really kicking myself for that. Because I can't help but feel like it'd be cool to be able to see how the set grew and developed from Dec 2019 to (soon) Dec 2020, not just in terms of % completion but all the work I've been putting into refining my descriptions - including attempts I've made in some areas to reign myself in and make myself say less and not go on unnecessary and self-indulgent tangents too often.
    Side Note: But as my Venezuela hyperinflation set starts to flush out with a full set of Fuertes notes and some Soberano notes, I think I'm going to make a Signature set for those next year so I can present that set the way I want to. I'm also going to have to decide what i want to call it. I've considered naming the sets "Gradually, then suddenly: Zimbabwe" and "Gradually, then suddenly: Venezuela," but I'm not sure I like that and I'm not sure that the referenced quote fits Venezuela in the same way it fits Zimbabwe (purely IMO).
  6. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Banknotes
    I was not aware of this world event or this tweet at the time (I was busy getting started in a new job at this point in 2017), but three years ago the following tweet was made:

    On Nov 19, 2017 Mugabe was told to resign by the 20th or be removed. When he didn't do it they filed for impeachment on the 21st and he resigned that same day.
    I also wasn't aware of this when I named my set "Gradually, then suddenly," when I re-made and re-started it in 2019. But, when I found it online about a week ago, I couldn't help but save it and want to talk about it. It was just a little too perfect given what I named my Zimbabwe set (and I really do swear that I didn't know about this at the time. I learned about the quote when watching Prozac Nation and it stuck with me from there. It is on my bucket list to read "The Sun Also Rises" I guess).
    In somewhat unrelated news I won the following two notes last week:

    I was pretty thrilled to get the P-30 without much fight. Another P-30 in 68 EPQ sold in late August with a 67 EPQ selling the week after that and I didn't bid on or win either because I just couldn't justify spending that much at the time (my budget wasn't big enough) and I decided the P-15 and some other notes I bought were more important to me / the set. This time I passed on a P-15 (in 67 EPQ this time) to get this P-30. Someone else did bid on and take that P-15 in 67 EPQ for $50 + shipping. It probably wasn't a bad / unreasonable price to get that check in such a high grade but I just couldn't convince myself it was worth that. That, and, having the P-15 that I have, I think the P-30 was now the right choice to move the bigger set forward.
    Having won that, I put in a bid on the 2020 $20 and FINALLY won one at a price I was happy with. I was so sure I'd get one a few weeks back and I lost it at the last minute when it was going for $34+. Since I was able to combine shipping on this won with the P-30 the incremental cost to me was only $30. Finally, a good note and grade at a price I was more happy with. My 2019-2020 set may ultimately go through a complete / near complete upgrade cycle just for the joy of giving Mike a run for his money but for now I'm really happy to have a complete set. Although, having everything else in 67 now, I really regret snapping up that $5 bond note in 66 EPQ. It was / is a solid enough grade but now it just looks like the slouch / loser of the set.
    These were shipped / the shipping label was created today. I'm going to cross my fingers that they get here in less than 3 weeks and I can add them to my set before the 4th of December. It would just be really nice to have them in place before the cut-off.
  7. Revenant
    Leading up to my birthday a couple of weeks back I became aware of a 100,000 Bolivar Fuerte (VEN-100) note coming up for sale and ending on my birthday. On the big day the note hadn’t got any bids. I showed it to my wife, and she told me to just bid on it and call it an extra birthday present if I won.
    I bid. I won unopposed and took it for $24.99 after shipping. Normally I don’t know if I would have popped on a 66 EPQ at that price but the VEN-100 is one of the more desirable notes in the set it seems – much like the 100 Trillion of the Zimbabwe notes - and I wanted to fill a hole in my set. As it is, this is one of the highest point-getting notes in my Venezuela set now.

    While I was waiting on that to come in the mail I saw a VEN-93 100 Bolivares Fuerte note come up for sale, this time in 68 EPQ. This note had a starting bid of $28.99 on it but I thought it could still be very worth it if I didn’t have many opposing bids and I got to get a great note to fill the last hole in my Fuertes set. I did end up winning it – on November 3rd, election day. The auction ended at 6 AM. I don’t know why the seller does this but they do, so I woke up to find out I’d won.

    Having won that, I say that there was a P-102a* (66 EPQ) and a P-106 (67 EPQ) up for bid ending within a few hours to a few days. They were from the same seller and the seller combines shipping, so I decided to wait and see what I could get. I snagged both for $19 each.

    They were paid for all together, but I won the auction for the P-93 first, so I think this counts as keeping my promise to finish the Fuertes set before starting on a Soberano set. The also gives me something to put into the Soberano set so now I can stop feeling guilty about bugging Ali and PMG to make a category so I could have an empty set.
    Somehow I managed to load up on all the "100" notes in rapid succession with this, which is a little funny.
    I really like the Soberanos. The Fuertes notes look nice but the Soberanos are very bright and colorful and even my wife commented on it with the VEN-106.
    Maybe more on this but the VEN-93 and the VEN-100 drive me nuts. The VEN-100 was the only one where they didn't put all the zeros on it and, with the coloring added in, the VEN-100 looks a LOT like the VEN-93. See the VEN-99 below for how the VEN-100 should have been handled:

    My Fuertes set is now complete but I don't get a 100% complete registry set out of it because PMG wants to include the old Bolivares notes that were issued after the change in government / constitution in 1998 but before the redenomination to the Bolivares Fuertes. So they're in this registry set but these notes have a different ISO currency code, they're part of a different series and look completely different. And I have no near-term interest in picking them up.
  8. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Notes
    I still don’t have a P-3 at the moment and I still have that nagging hole in the set, but I recently won an auction for a P-1d – one of the highest grade examples you can ask for – a 68 EPQ Star.

    This thing popped up on my radar about three months ago when it and a 68 EPQ (no star) were put up for sale with price tags of $190 (with the star) and $100 (no star). They were up for auction and those were the starting bids.
    Buying a P-1d was a dream and a goal of mine for over a year now but getting one of these notes at those prices would have easily made the note the most expensive note in my set. I could not make myself pull the trigger on a bid even though I knew I’d hate missing out on such great examples of the note.
    Apparently, I was not alone though in that no one else bid and they went unsold, so the seller posted them as a BIN at the same prices as the old starting bids. They sat on inventory for a while after that.
    I kept expecting them to sell but they didn’t. My problem wasn’t that I thought the asking price was unreasonable. I have seen rarer varieties of the 1st dollar notes go in auctions for ~$125 before and these were 68s. I was just having a hard time convincing myself to pay that for one.
    As time went on the thought of adding one of these to my set grew one me and I was close to ordering the 68 EPQ (no star). I couldn’t convince myself to go for the start for $190 but I did like the idea of getting this scarcer variety for my set in a really nice grade. I was just waiting a few more days to pull the trigger – lucky me as it turned out.
    The Star note got pulled from the BIN listing and a few days later popped up in an auction with a starting bid price of $100 – same price as the BIN on the non-star. At that point I decided to go ahead and wait a week for the auction to end and see what it would go for. I knew the 68 EPQ was unlikely to sell in the interim with this one up for auction. So that made me feel safe enough to wait longer.
    I waited and no one bid. So, Friday night, with the auction ending at 2:30 AM Saturday, I put in a bid of $114 and went to bed hoping for the best. I woke up the next morning and found out I’d won it without other bidders.
    I was going to be out of town for a few days soon after the note ended so I casually bid on some of the seller’s other auctions and waited a few days to pay, knowing that would help make sure it was delayed shipping out and that it would not arrive when I wasn’t home to receive it. I’m glad I did because it still came just a couple of days after we got back home.
    Its really exciting to have this and to have a complete variety set for at least 1 of the 4 first series notes.

  9. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Banknotes
    So today is my bday and my wife gave me my birthday gift last night.

    This journal is going to come in two parts:
    1) Why it is freaking hilarious and kind of perfect that she got me this.
    2) Why I'm actually happy with it this time.
    So in the long ago days of January 2019 my wife was pregnant with our 2nd child and looking for a way to surprise me with something I'd love for our anniversary. It was a stressful time for us. She was in a high risk pregnancy. There was a very real risk that she'd die and that this could be the 4th and final anniversary together. So she goes on a website and sees my wishlist and buys me a 20T note. Thing is... I didn't have a 20T note on my list. I had a 20 BILLION note on my list, but who can blame her with all fhe freakin zeros, right? That note was also ungraded and it just didn't do anything for me with my already graded 65 EPQ. I felt bad at the time because she tried so hard and she was so pleased with herself but I couldn't hide my confusion when I got it. But we laughed it off, we got to return it, I bought a (much cheaper) graded 67 EPQ 20 Billion note for my set and even one or two other notes with the difference. Her getting me that note reignited my interest in this set after it had lain dormant for years after I was laid off in 2016 and that present became the launching point for what has been a 1.5 year obsession with building out this set. I've said before that building this set was a big part of how I dealt with the stress and anxiety of Sam's birth...
    And here it is again. She didn't even remember it / that it was the same note. That fact was lost in the fog of the craziness of that. It was just too funny.
    So here's why I'm happy with it this time (in addition to it just being hilarious).
    1) This note actually was on my wishlist because that old 65 EPQ was kind of an under-performer in my 3rd dollar set and I'd been thinking that the 20 Trillion would be a priority for upgrade if I ever started upgrading. This 3-point move up is pretty fantastic for what is one of the more important notes in the 3rd dollar series. Since it was a present and since I don't see myself wanting to drop big cash for a 69 EPQ I see this one staying in the set long term now.
    2) This note is in a new-gen holder and doesn't have the darker tinted plastic that the old one is in. The new note, while it isn't a "low serial number," is much lower than the old one (184955 vs 298832). The low serial (and the fact that it is a 12 year old note in a new holder in pristine condition) has me thinking that this note spent the last decade in an unbroken bundle / brick and someone must have broken a brick to cherry-pick for some gradable examples.

  10. Revenant

    Federal Reserve Notes
    Perhaps proving that I have no self-control or perhaps that I just lie to myself a lot, about 30 hours after saying I was going to try to not buy anything for the next 3 weeks I bought something.

    I was looking around on eBay and saw this. I'd been wanting a $1 FRN note for a while for two reasons: 1) I wanted one for the "Currency of my life" signature set I want to keep working on as time allows and 2) I wanted one for my Zimbabwe signature set.
    That 2nd one might seem fairly odd - I'll now have about 5 US FRNs in a set about Zimbabwe - but I feel like that set needs FRNs in it to cover the period from around April 2009 to 2016. This is the period after the 4th dollar was officially suspended but before the bond notes (pegged to the US dollar) were released. During this period the US dollar and Federal Reserve Notes were the defacto currency of Zimbabwe and many people / banks had accounts denominated in US dollars. There were other currencies used at the time under the "multi-currency system" but all indications I've found say that the US dollar, as the world reserve currency, was far and away the dominant one of the group.
    This note arguably is kind of a "meh" grade - it feels strange to call a 66 EPQ "meh" but I just know that 67s and 68s are quite common for modern notes. But the note was priced accordingly and at $19 it was cheap enough for me to treat it was random impulse buy. More importantly, there were two things about this note that really sold me on it. 1) It's a 2009 dated note, so its for the "right" year for the purposes of the set. 2) It's AA block - and AA is the prefix used by Zimbabwe for most of the 3rd and 4th dollars and the first series of the Bond notes and the New series notes. Unlike the 4th dollars, the new notes and bond notes have been in production and circulation long enough to have AB, AD, and BB blocks among others. I've never seen a 4th dollar with anything other than an AA prefix. Yeah, I guess there are a few ZA prefix replacement notes but that's different. If I ever found or heard of a legitimate AB prefix 4th dollar I'd be shocked half to death at this point.
    The note also happens to be relatively contemporary with the Great Financial Crisis of '08 and has the signature of Good ol' "TurboTax Tim."
    I see there being at least one more $1 FRN purchase in my future because I have a different set of wants for the "Currency of My Life" Set. While I might include this note in that set as well, I'd like to have a 1988 note from the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank - just because my wife and I were both born in Texas in 1986 and the 1988 series seems to be the first series from after we were born.
  11. Revenant
    I finally finished up the last description I wanted to write for my Venezuelan Bolivar Fuertes set and posted all of the new text to the set.
    I did most of the writing for these weeks ago but then life came up and my focus shifted back to the Zimbabwe notes again and I never finished them and I wasn't sure they were "just right" yet.
    I finished the first one and said "good enough" - get them posted and work / polish from there. It had reached the point where it was bothering me to have all of that 80-90% finished work sitting on a Word file while the set sat bare. So now its up!
    Also: My wife apparently ordered my birthday present yesterday. She was trying to keep it quiet but then Ben saw her and wanted to "help" and gave it away in a big way.
    I'm thinking there's at least 1 Zimbabwe note that makes up part of the present. I guess we'll see.
    Given this, I'm trying to commit to making no coin or note purchases until she gives me my present in 3 weeks / 22 days and I know what that is and can proceed in that knowledge - but there is one big / important Zimbabwe note that I'm seriously thinking about just biting the bullet on because of what it would mean for the set, even though part of me does think I might be overpaying for it just a little. I'm increasingly feeling like it might be worth overpaying for. I guess we'll see how it all comes out.
  12. Revenant
    A couple of weeks ago a pair of P-23 notes came up for sale - a P-23e and a P-23c, ending in that order, a couple of days apart from each other.
    I have not seen a lot of P-23s come up for sale over the last few years. One of the few I’ve seen offered is one that has a “Pick-Unlisted” label that was graded years ago, so you don’t know from the label what variety you’re getting and the seller wanted $200 for it - which has always and still seems insane for that note. This probably explains why it still sits unsold. Anyway…
    These new notes had starting bid prices of $29 - which was very reasonable.
    I was hoping to snag both if I could get them cheap, but I ended up having some competition for them. I decided to try to snag the P-23e and let the P-23c go for now. I ended up being glad I did. I won the P-23e for $38.88 + shipping + tax (set me back $47.50). The P-23c sold for about $75 before tax and shipping - two other people wanted that one bad, I guess.

    It is very nice to pick this one up though. This P-23e, with the P-22b I got in a lucky win earlier in the year, is finally giving me some in-roads and progress on a segment of the complete Zimbabwe series / collection that I’ve been pretty weak in up to this point.
    This note has one of the new style holders with a 15-year label. That got me thinking a little…
    The note itself is from 2003. It’s only 17 years old and it was made only 2 years before PMG got started.
    This realization got me thinking about the fact that the 2nd Dollar series was released in 2005 and 2006 and that PMG was just getting started and was a “cool new thing in the industry,” right at the time when the Zimbabwe hyperinflation and the collection craze over these notes was entering into its peak phase. PMG was only about 3-4 years old when the 100 trillion notes hit the street. This makes me wonder a little if this coincidence of timing helped power Zimbabwe into being #20 in the list of the countries with the most notes graded by PMG.
    This has my interest a little piqued to see if I might be able to get one of the 2005 dated 2nd dollar bearer checks in a holder with the 15-year label on it for my collection. I just can’t help but think that would be neat to have. I’m not sure what dollar value that novelty is going to have for me or what I’m going to be willing to shell out to make that happen but it’s definitely going to be “on my radar” now.
    Incidentally, 2005 is also the year I graduated from High School… and now I realize it has been 15 years since I graduated from High School… and… dangit… now I just feel old.
    Dang it! … I am old.
  13. Revenant
    This probably has made me way way happier than it should, but I am super stoked about this:

    My new 2020 $10 note should be arriving in the mail early next week and I really can't wait to get it now! This is making me want the $20 super bad - but I'm probably going to have to wait on that because I'm working on other things and if I spend too much this month my wife may injure me.
  14. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Notes
    About 2 weeks ago a P-77 came up for auction. This had me super excited because it would have completed my “Millions” set and left me needing only the $10,000, P-72 to complete my 3rd dollar set… but then someone else bid at the end and the price was getting out of hand so I let it go… sadness.
    Then about a week ago a P-3 came up that would have given me a 100% complete 1st dollar set… and the bidding got so high at the end that I didn’t even bid on it…
    However, I’ve finally scored some wins that I’m very happy about and I was able to do it because I didn’t blow all of my budget and then some on those other notes.
    The first win came about 3 days ago. It is a P-21d in 67 EPQ. This gives me a complete pick set (but not a variety set) of the 3 note, 2003 bearer check series (P-21 to P-23). I’ll see when I get it entered but I think this also might just barely give me the lead in the category (by about 10 points) and give me the #1 spot for a while. Should be fun to digitally poke jeyanth7 with a stick like that. Lol

    The 2nd win came this morning and this is the one I am really happy about - and paradoxically it’s probably one of the most homely looking “notes” in the whole series - and calling it a “note” is really generous because this thing is a check. It is not a reusable, transferable, “check” with an expiration date like the “bearer checks” and “agro checks.” It is a literal, bank-issued, single use, canceled check.

    I was very excited when this popped up. When I’d asked about these previously PMG had indicated that they weren’t currently grading these and so I’d been thinking it’d be impossible to ever have these properly represented in my signature set. But this check is clearly recently graded and indicates that they’ve changed their mind and they’re willing to certify these now. I’d removed the empty slots for these from my signature set because I thought the were unfillable. I’m not going to add slots back for all of them for now. Rather, I’m going to include this as a representative piece for now and see what develops over time. On the competitive side, depending on what happens in the next few weeks, when I add this one to my set it might be the only one of these listed in the registry and anchoring a #1 ranked set or one note.
    I had been hoping to snag that P-15 for $25 unopposed - much like I won the P-21d without anyone bidding against me, but I had to fend off a sniper that bid on it with 3 seconds left on the clock. I’d been hoping to go for a 68 EPQ P-30 note tonight but I’ve decided I’m going to have to let that one go - it’s just not in the collecting budget at the moment. I’ll need to convince myself to wait a week or two before I buy anything else. That is a bit of a bummer because the P-30, with the P-21, would give me a complete denomination set of the 1st dollar bearer checks, but there is a 67 EPQ that will end in about 9 days and I may go for that instead - still a good note in a good grade while mostly honoring my agreed collecting budget.
    I've also decided for now that I'm not going to have slots for all three $50,000 issues in the 1st dollar bearer check series (P-28 to P-30) for now and I'll just add more slots as I get them. I'm pretty happy with and I think the set will feel reasonably complete if I get a P-28, P-29, or a P-30 (most likely a P-30) and I don't necessarily feel like driving myself nuts getting all three in the near term. 
    While I still have some holes I'd like to fill as I'm able, it's getting harder, and I feel like the signature set and the collection overall is getting to a pretty mature state, where it feels pretty complete and new purchases are likely to start slowing down drastically soon. But... I've been wrong about that before.

    Just thought I'd use some screen caps to show how I'm restructuring the signature set for now. The P-15 and P-21d are going to drop into adjacent slots once they arrive.

    I am very happy with how my 1st dollar collection has improved and shaped up in the last 6 months. It feels awesome.
  15. Revenant

    Zimbabwe Bearer Checks
    I just thought I'd share this as a journal now that it's here and I can get higher res images:

    it was stamped as “PAID” on Oct 26 2004 (which happens to be just a week after my birthday, the year I turned 18). It was also marked as “Zimbank Waste” on “11-10-2004,” which, depending on whether you use US or UK conventions for dates, either October 11th or November 10th of 2004. Even though I’d normally expect them to use the UK convention, I’m tempted to say they used the American one and this refers to November 10th, because this stamp seems to have been placed after the Oct 26th stamp and it just doesn’t make much sense for me for this have been stamped as “Waste” before it was stamped as “PAID.” How something that was redeemed and stamped as waste to be discarded came to be in my collection and encapsulated in gem uncirc condition is a bit of a mystery to me but... it happened somehow! Somebody kept the trash I guess – possibly foreseeing that one day there’d be people like me with an interest in these things, and they kept trash paper and turned it into something that I later paid about US$40 for 16 years later. Life is funny sometimes that way, I guess. 
    Some of the things I find interesting here is some of what is NOT on it. The “Date” line is blank, so they didn’t bother to date it when it was issued to someone. The name of the person it was issued to was also left blank and, even though you were supposed to have to show ID to redeem these, there’s no redemption signature on the check. So there’s no record of when it was issued, or to who, or who it was that redeemed it – at least not on the check itself.  
    That information might have been retained at the Chisipite Sub-Branch in Harare, which is apparently where this check was stamped as waste, but I have a feeling the answer is “No.” My guess is, based on all the blanks, at least by this point in late 2004, they were just dealing with a ton of these increasingly worthless $1,000 checks and they were doing things “fast and loose” to process them all faster. By the time this thing was redeemed, $1,000 in Zimbabwe dollars was barely worth an American quarter or dime – so who would have even cared? It wouldn’t have even bought you bread probably. 
  16. Revenant
    Somewhat to my surprise a PMG-graded P-11a popped up for sale in an eBay auction the other day and I decided to go for it.
    I say "somewhat" to my surprise because the P-11a, like many / most of these, isn't especially rare but you don't see every variety pop up having already been graded as a high uncirc grade every day. I think this is actually the first PMG-graded 11a I've seen and it's only recently been graded based on the holder.
    The auction ended at 10:15 PM Sunday night so I stayed up just a little later than normal (kids get me up early) and watched it end. I put my bid in with just a couple of minutes to go and won it - went to bed and paid when I got up this morning.

    I wouldn't have expected to be here a couple of months ago but I think I now have every variety of every pick number in the 2nd series of the 1st dollar except for the P-12a. That'll make the P-12a a priority for me if I ever see one pop up.
    Now that I have both P-5s and both P-11s and I'm starting to have more varieties in my 1st dollar series I'm thinking about making a new signature set that will be just the 1st dollars with varieties - something to showcase all of the 1st dollars and just the in one set. I love my full 1980-Date Zimbabwe signature set but I do worry some days about it seeming overwhelming now that it's up to about 90 notes and over 110 slots.
  17. Revenant
    Over the weekend I just started seeing these pop up for sale in eBay auctions and new sales / offerings popping up that offer these as part of a 3 note set with the 2 2019 issues, so I'm guessing these are freshly released and they're just now making it out to the dealers. So I guess I might get to see all the designs that were supposed to be released as part of the bond note series afterall. I was really expecting them to tack an extra 0 onto these if they released them and have $100 and $200 notes instead of $10 (and maybe, later, $20) notes. Even with the official exchange rate the government is trying to peg these at (25:1 with the US dollar) these new notes are worth less than half a US dollar - not much. If you use some of the exchange rates people have been using, these are worth less than a US nickel. They are pretty though, and in some ways this feels like another attempt to make a call back to the 1st dollar series. The Original $10 notes, the P-3, issued starting in 1980, was primarily red, like these notes.

    On another note, I got a P-99 $2 bond note - an actual 2016 Bond note and not a new 2019 banknote - last week. Last night I won an auction for a P-100 $5 bond note, so, once that comes in I'll have both the bond notes for real this time, and both the 2019 issues, and I'll just need to get this new 2020 note (and anything else they come up with this year, like a $20 note if they release it) to stay current on the new issues.
    Other than trying to keep up with the new issues and the new developments I'm still emphasizing going back and building up my 1st dollar set with new varieties as I can get them.
  18. Revenant
    I did a bit of reading last night and found out that the new $20 notes were announced at the same time as the $10 notes, but, where the $10 notes went into circulation in late May, the $20 notes weren't supposed to go into circulation until June. This time delay is probably why the $10 notes are starting to hit eBay but the $20s aren't - yet. I figure, assuming they aren't delayed, we'll see the $20s for sale to US collectors by early July.

    I said in my post about the new $10 notes that there seemed to be some clear attempts to call back to the original $10 notes from 1980 but it's even more clear with these new 20s
    While the design is clearly different, the color choices are very similar with greens, blues, and teals / aqua. Then you get to the art on the back. Both notes have an elephant - or the front half of an elephant - and Victoria Falls. Yes, they've clearly updated the art, but the inspiration drawn from the older note is very clear.

  19. Revenant
    The P-2e is an interesting note (one of a few 1994 issues, along with the P-1d). It is a somewhat rarer variety than the P-2d, but when you look at the two, on the surface, they look pretty much the same. The difference between the P-2d and the P-2e (and the difference between the P-1c and the P-1d) is that the earlier issue uses the first version of the Zimbabwe bird watermark while the later issue uses the newer, second version of the Zimbabwe bird watermark that was used in later issues, including the Series 2 notes.
    Zimbabwe started rolling out the Series 2 notes in 1994 and 1995 (and retired the $2 denomination, replacing the P-1 note with a $2 coin). So, between their replacement mid-year of the prior issues with the old watermark and their subsequent replacement with completely new designs, these notes were not in print long.
    Pictured below for comparison is my P-2c, from 1983. I don't have a 1994 dated P-2d at this point. We'll see what the future holds there.

    The P-1c is fairly common and cheap, seemingly almost as common and inexpensive as the P-1b, and it’s just a watermark that separates it from the P-1d – which is one of the rarest and most desirable notes in any Zimbabwe note collection. 
    I can say that with the P-1c and P-1d because I have seen P-1c notes come up for sale in 67 EPQ and sell for less than $30 in most cases 3 or 4 times now. I have hardly ever seen P-1d notes and they tend to go for more in the $120+ range.
    It’s harder to make this argument, for me, from what I’ve seen, with the P-2d and the P-2e because I’ve now seen two P-2e notes sell for $51 or less, but I have not yet seen a P-2d come up for sale.
    This makes it difficult in most cases to try to shop for a P-1d or a P-2e on the internet, in raw, ungraded condition, because sellers typically don’t include pictures where they’re holding the note up to a light to show off the watermark and it’s the watermark that makes literally all the difference - the dates and signatures are the same.
    From a registry perspective, these notes are interesting in that they are competition drivers that play an outsized role in making sets competitive (or not) in the 1st dollar category. And they seem to be more scarce on the market but their prices aren’t much higher in practice - I’m sure because there aren’t many 1st dollar collectors compared to 3rd dollar collectors and there aren’t all that many 1st dollar collectors that are crazy enough to build full variety sets or to try to hunt down the rare varieties instead of settling for the more common ones - most people probably would not care to pay extra for a P-1d and would rather just get a P-1b. The notes are nearly identical.
    A P-2c in 66 EPQ gets 45 points but a P-2e in the same grade gets you 357. I paid about $30 for the P-2c and paid about $51 for the P-2e. More, but not 7 times more.
    A P-1b gets 37 points in 66 EPQ but a P-1d gets 584 - which can make it hard to compete in the category if someone else has a P-1d and you don’t.
    The point values on these notes seems to be more reflective of their relative rarity and not necessarily their price - and we all know, per NGC/PMG that the scores are not based exclusively on price. But you also can’t draw many conclusions about relative scarceness or desirability because these things are rarely graded in general and the more common varieties are generally not worth enough after grading to justify the grading fees - so their relative numbers in the pop reports are not at all indicative of their relative commonness overall.
    This dynamic has made me keen to try to go for some of these rarer varieties when one comes up for sale and the seller is asking something close to a reasonable price. But the problem sometimes becomes that the seller is asking what I do not particularly feel is a reasonable price. And, when the thing sits unsold for months, it suggests to me that the others out there that buy these things also don’t feel like it’s all that good of an ask. But, when you’re dealing with something that only comes up for sale very infrequently - especially already graded in a very hard grade - it can be extremely hard to argue this point with the dealer or get them to come down off those asks. And then the things just sit in inventory for a year or two or three.

  20. Revenant
    The notes I ordered about a week or so ago have arrived and they’re starting to clear our quarantine period so I’m finally getting to take a closer look at what I bought… and the are not 2016 bond notes.

    The bond notes actually say “Bond Note” and that’s the one modification / omission these 2019 issues make (other than the date) that separates them from the Bond notes.

    I’m laughing to myself because this is 100% my bad for not noticing. The seller’s listing listed them as “P NEW 2019.” The pictures and the labels said 2019… I just was assuming and taking for granted that all the notes that looked like this were the same and were all bond notes and I’d been completely unaware of the fact that the government / RBZ actually did release these like they said they would but they re-used the design of the bond notes – something they never did before.
    I talked about this with the 3rd and 4th dollars. When the 4th dollars were rolled out (even though they were VERY short-lived, even by Zimbabwe standards) the government significantly changed those designs and made sure that the new notes had color schemes that were very different than the 3rd dollar notes of the same denomination to make darn sure that no one would get the two mixed up or use them interchangeably.
    I never would have expected them to do this.
    That said, even though these aren’t bond notes, they’re basically identical, and I’m finally getting to look at these designs in person, with the note in hand, and, dang, I think these are pretty. This really just makes me even more bummed that the $10 and $20 notes keep not getting released. I would have loved to have seen what they had planned for those. How dare the people of this poor, long suffering, country get in the way of my collecting fun, right?!? First World Problems, man.
  21. Revenant
    Somewhat inspired by ddr70's recent post about lowball sets, I thought I'd share this today, just for a laugh.
    My new P-5b, P-7 and P-9 notes finally came out of quarantine today and I finally got the certification numbers to add to my set(s).
    With the addition of these notes, my 91-92% complete set now finally beats Muzzer42's 8% complete set... by a whopping 3 points.  

    Muzzer has a P-1d note in MS66 EPQ. The P-1d is the rarest and most valuable variety of the P-1 note. It's the only P-1 variety that I don't own.
    I'm "winning" so hard he could go out at any time and buy any non-P-1 1st dollar note on the cheap and be beating me again.  
    MKMITTAL79 continues to curb-stomp me with a 16% complete set that combines the relatively rare P-2e and P-3b. I still don't have any P-3 (only one I lack completely) and I have the much more common P-2c.
    Now that these notes are out of quarantine I need to get them and my new 68 EPQ P-6 CD-prefix and get some pictures up soon.
    Signature link for my main 1st dollar set (check it out if you want and haven't already):

  22. Revenant
    I suppose I hinted at this in my previous post by posting pictures of both of them but I didn't bring this up because I didn't close / seal the deal on the 2nd one until this morning.
    Over the weekend, about a week after I lost the auction for that P-100 note the seller offered me a 2nd chance offer on it at my max bid price - which happened to be the initial / starting bid price. This offer, combined with some other things that happened towards the end of those auctions, increases my suspicion that some shill bidding occurred. I went ahead and accepted the offer, because I did want the note and it was a good price for the grade in my opinion (which is the only one that matters in this case). While I do suspect shilling, even if I'm right, it only cost me $2-5 on $150 in purchases so I decided I'm just going to choose to ignore it for the most part.

    In the course of dealing with that I noticed that the seller had listed some P-99 notes for auction as well. The first one was ending today in the early morning so I decided to go for it. Unlike the auctions from a couple of weeks ago I waited and big until close to the end. Curiously, I bid and won unopposed this time... A lesson for the future with this seller, I guess - assuming I choose to give him any more business after this.

    While I suspect shenanigans, I think I got good prices, and picked up Superb Gem graded notes for less than it would have cost me to buy raw and get them graded myself. So I'm going to call it a win.
    I have to laugh at myself just a little 1) for going ahead and getting the P-100 just a week after I "let it go," and 2) because, for a while now, I've been thinking that when I finally got one of the bond notes I would probably get both at the same time or very close together. With a 2 note set, it just feels wrong to only get one / it's too tempting to not get both. The appeal of having the pair - especially as a matched set in grade - is just too strong.
  23. Revenant
    I read last year that Zimbabwe was going to have ANOTHER new currency coming to replace the RTGS dollar but then life and work got busy and I never really went back to look into the developments.
    I've been making updates to my set(s) lately though and looking into the getting the P-99 and P-100 Bond notes and this got me thinking about the fact that I haven't been seeing or hearing anything about new notes or a new currency even though it's been about 6 months now.
    It seems like they haven't released now physical paper money but they did roll out a "new" currency to replace the RTGS dollar..,. and it's called... The "Zimbabwe dollar," currency code ZWD! Which happens to be the same currency code used by the "1st dollar" that replaced the Rhodesian currency in 1980.
    So, this gives us:
    1st Dollar, ZWD (1980-2006)
    2nd Dollar, ZWN (2006-2008)
    3rd Dollar, ZWR (2008-2009)
    4th Dollar, ZWL (2009)
    Bond Notes - 1:1 USD peg (2016-2019)
    RTGS Dollar, ZWL (2019) … because, I guess just calling it the 5th dollar would just be sad and they even re-used the old currency code...
    Zimbabwe Dollar, ZWD (2019 - Probably DOA)
    Some people clearly just don't know when to give up...
    ZWD, to ZWN, to ZWR, to ZWL, and finally back to ZWD.
    We are full circle - and they still have crazy-high inflation.

  24. Revenant
    About 2 weeks ago I decided to bid on a P-6 Zimbabwe note that was PMG graded 68 EPQ. I already had a P-6 in 66 EPQ and I don't normally buy "upgrades," but this was a CD prefix where what I had was a CA prefix so I decided that was justification enough to go for it. The seller took his time in shipping it out but it came in the mail today. We quarantine our mail because of the current situation but hopefully I'll get to snap some photos of my own soon. Seller's photos below:

    Then, about 4 days ago, another seller I've worked with before listed a P-7, a P-5b and a P-100a in 67 EPQ. I didn't have any of these and they're great grades. I had a P-5a but not a P-5b. This was only the 2nd graded P-7 I'd seen and the last one was only a 64 EPQ. So I wanted these. The seller also had a P-9 in 68 EPQ - another note I needed in a great grade - but that was a BIN and not an auction like these others.
    I decided to go for them and buy the P-9 if I could win some or all of the others and still had some fun spending money left.
    Things were going well until shortly before they were all supposed to end last night with 3-6 hours to go. I decided to abandon the P-100 and focus on the P-7, P-5b, and maybe P-9 and make some big strides in the 1st dollars. One of these days I'll actually pull the trigger on the bond notes but I really want these 1st dollars. It would be so great to have that set complete one day.
    I did end up winning the P-7, the P-5b and then bought the P-9. It'll probably take a good 2-3 weeks for the notes to arrive because the seller is abroad, but, when they do, I'll have a 92% 1st dollar registry set with 11/12 pick numbers represented - everything except the P-3. I also have the P-1a, P-1b, and P-1c and the P-5a and P-5b. That set has come together pretty darn good.

    The seller I bought these others from also had a 67 EPQ P-3, but the asking price is a bit steep - it'd be the most expensive note in the set - and I'd already spent enough today and this month on this set. In general, the P-3 is expensive. Even if you get one of the more common varieties it's just one of the more expensive notes in the series. I'll get it one day. I have to to complete the set, but I'm going to wait a bit longer to bite that bullet.
    Interestingly (to me) all 4 of these are from the 2nd series of the 1st dollar from the 1990s. The P-3, if I'd gotten it, would have been the only new note from the 1st series, from the 1980s.