Tuesday, August 30, 2016

World War II - Currencies of Evil and Ultimate Victory

This is the second part of my three part series detailing the World War II artifacts, stamps, coins, and banknotes in my collection. You can read Part I here which deals with artifacts, stamps, and coins, and Part II here which deals with the occupation currencies of Imperial Japan.

In recognition of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II (Sept. 2, 2015) , I wanted to share my WWII collection. As the number of living witnesses to the horrors of the war and to the ultimate victory of liberty over tyranny decline, the importance of having physical artifacts grows. Through these pieces of paper, which also managed to survive years of war and the decades that followed, we can learn about the realities of the history, politics, economics, and even the crimes against humanity that occurred.

This final post encompasses both the most horrific part of World War II, the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camp system, as well as the ultimate victory of freedom over tyranny and fascism.


Theresienstadt was a "camp-ghetto" located in modern-day Czech Republic (Bohemia) that was established on Nov. 24, 1941 and lasted until May 9, 1945, making it one of the last camps to be closed as Germany officially surrendered on May 8.

Click image for larger view.
Prior to being turned into a center of torment and death, Theresienstadt was actually a fortress that was constructed between 1780 and 1790. During World War I, many of those convicted of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria were imprisoned in the larger section of the fortress, TerezĂ­n. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Gestapo took control of the smaller citadel on June 10, 1940 and a mere four days later the first prisoners arrived there.

Over the course of the war the camp's population fluctuated, reaching a high of nearly 60,000 (although some survivors claim it was as high as 72,000). Some 144,000 people passed through Theresienstadt and in this incredibly cramped environment, plus disease, neglect, and the ever present cruelty of the guards, it all resulted in over 30,000 deaths. It's important to remember that these deaths occurred despite the camp not being an extermination camp, but rather a ghetto and processing/transport facility. Thousands of others who were to sent from here to other camps, like Auschwitz, died as well.

Theresienstadt is rare among concentration camps because it was, for a time, used in Nazi propaganda to support the lie that Jews were only being "re-located." Even a film was made in 1944 to fool the Danish Red Cross. Life within the camp was similar to other ghettos. Daily life was generally looked after by fellow Jews (placed in their positions by the Germans). These ghetto Elders would struggle to keep the population fed and healthy, as well as work to bring some sense of normalcy and culture to the prisoners. The pianist Alice Herz-Sommer (who survived the war) preformed around 100 concerts during her imprisonment there.

To continue the fraud, Theresienstadt also saw the creation of currency for internal camp usage. Laborers were paid a meager wage and others were given 50 Kronen each month. Other ghettos and camps had their own currency, but since Theresienstadt was a "model camp", special attention was paid to the design and production of the notes.

The notes are fairly uniform in their general design, though each denomination, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 Kronen, varies in color and size. They were designed by Czech artist, poet, and inmate Peter Kien in 1942. He later died in Auschwitz in 1944.

Click on each image for a larger size.

This is the front (obverse) of the 1, 2, 5, and 10 Kronen notes. There were 2.24 million One Kronen notes, 1 million Two Kronen notes, 530,000 Five Kronen notes, 456,000 Ten Kronen notes, 319,000 Twenty Kronen notes, 159,000 Fifty Kronen notes, and 279,000 One-hundred Kronen notes printed. 

It is reported that "[t]he Nazis took elaborate steps to create the impression of a ghetto bank. They called it the Jewish Self-Government Bank (Bank of Jewish Autonomy) and the deception went as far as creating over 50,000 personal accounts, complete with monthly statements of deposits and charges..." The notes are signed by Elder Jakob Edelstein.

On the reverse we see Moses pointing the the Ten Commandments. Kien submitted the design to Reinhard Heydrich, however Moses' face was slightly changed to make him appear more "Jewish" with a hooked nose and more aged face. This final, more racist design, was engraved by Jindra Schmidt and is what was used on the notes.

Below is a close-up of the 10 Kronen note.

On the reverse side (Moses) it says, "Wer diese quittung verfalscht oder nachmacht, oder gefalschte quittungen in verkehr bringt, wird strengstens bestraft." This translates to "Anyone who falsifies or distorts or fakes this receipt, or counterfeits receipt, will be strictly punished." 

Here's the front and reverse images of the 20 and 50 Kronen notes.

It is claimed that Adolf Eichmann had Moses' hand cover up the Seventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."

Lastly is the 100 kr note. 

The Campbell Catalog pick numbers for the notes are 1 kr (#C4111), 2 kr (#C4112), 5 kr (#C4113), 10 kr (#C4114), 20 kr (#C4115), 50 kr (#C4116), and 100 kr (#C4117)

Allied Victory-Occupation Notes

After years of war, tens of millions of deaths, and countless battles, the Allied powers finally broke Nazism and liberated a continent. One of the goals of the Nazis was economic hegemony over Europe, and after each country fell to Hitler their economies were turned upside down. In the devastation left over after the war (which runs into the trillions), it was necessary for a temporary currency to be introduced for each country under Allied control. The initial idea for this currency dates to 1942.

Allied Military Currencies (A.M.C) were issued in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Japan. Unlike normal military currencies which are only for military use, A.M.C were to be used by civilians as well. I currently only have notes from Germany and Japan.

Below are German A.M.C Marks. The denominations were 1/2 , 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 1,000 Marks. They were introduced in 1944 and remained in circulation until 1948. Since Germany was divided into zones (US, France, UK, and USSR), notes were issued for each zone. They were all the same design, however, there was a prefix ID mark next to each note's serial number to designate which zone: "1" was for the American zone, "0" for French, "00" for the British, and "-" for the Soviet zone. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, there were 532,720,000 notes issued in Germany. While the BEP produced many of the various A.M.Cs, the German notes were printed by Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company in Boston to help alleviate the tremendous supply demand on the BEP..

These are the 1/2, 1, and 10 Mark notes. The Standard Catalog Special Issue pick numbers for these are 1/2 M (#191a), 1 M (#192a), and 10 M (#194a)

The reverse side of each denomination looked, more or less, the same. They all had a large "M" on the back, for 10 M and larger notes, the words "ALLIIERTE MILITARBEHORDE" (Allied Military Authority) is printed along the top.

Here's the 20, 50, and 100 Mark notes. You'll notice the size difference compared to smaller denominations. Based on the serial numbers, the 20 M note was printed for the British Zone, while the other two were made for the Soviet Occupation Zone.

The pick numbers are 20 M (#195a), 50 M (#196d), and the 100 M is (#197d).

The Japanese "B-Yen" (officially, B-type military script) was used in Okinawa from 1946 to 1958, it was then also used in mainland Japan and in Korea due to the depreciation of the "A-Yen" which existed from 1945-46. There were 331,690,000  A-Yen's produced and 311,374,000 B-Yen's.

B-Yen's were made in the following denominations: 10 sen (cent), 50 sen, 1¥, 5¥, 10¥, 20¥, 50¥, 100¥, and 1,000¥.

Here are the 10s, 5¥, and 10¥ notes. The Standard Catalog Special Issue pick numbers for these are, 10s (#63), 5¥ (#69b), 10¥ (#71).

This is the reverse side of the 10s  and 5¥ note. The others have the same designs. The exchange rate for these notes ranged from 120 to 360 yen for a US dollar.

Service personnel would often send souvenirs back home. On the back of my 10¥ note I found a hand written note that says "5:00 in American money". Given the official exchange rates, it's hard to say that this was to let those back home know that the 10 yen note was worth $5 (at the 120:1 rate, this would be worth $0.08). Regardless, it's still interesting to have.

--Jacob Bogle, 8/30/16



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

World War II Currency of Conflict

This is the second part of my three part series detailing the World War II artifacts, stamps, coins, and banknotes in my collection. You can read Part I here which deals with artifacts, stamps, and coins. Part III focuses on the camp currency of Theresienstadt and Allied Military Currencies.

In recognition of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II (Sept. 2, 2015) , I wanted to share my WWII collection. As the number of living witnesses to the horrors of the war and to the ultimate victory of liberty over tyranny decline, the importance of having physical artifacts grows. Through these pieces of paper, which also managed to survive years of war and the decades that followed, we can learn about the realities of the history, politics, economics, and even the crimes against humanity that occurred.

Imperial Japan

This post focuses on some of Japan's occupied territories: Burma, Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and Malaya. The third and final post will exhibit currency printed at the Theresienstadt concentration camp as well as victory currency issued by the Allies in Germany and Japan.

As Japan conquered new territories they needed to incorporate them into the overall economy (besides just looting and exploiting). This led to the creation of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," a concept similar to what Germany had envisioned for Europe under Nazi hegemony.

Members of the Sphere included Japan, Manchukuo (Manchuria-China), Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia-China), the Reorganized National Government of China, Burma, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, "Free India", and Thailand. Additionally, the Dutch East Indies (mostly today's Indonesia), Malay states, and a few smaller locales had their economies usurped and had new occupation currencies imposed on them. By March 1945, the Southern Development Bank, which issued the currencies, had an outstanding balance of more than 13 billion, an immense sum.

Burmese Notes
Click for larger image
These are notes used in Burma (Myanmar). The notes were issued from 1942 to 1944. They are the 1/4 Rupee (1942 Pick #12), 1/2 Rupee ( Pick #13b), 5 Rupees (Pick #15), 10 Rupees (Pick #16b), and 100 Rupees (Pick #17b).

Here's the reverse side of the notes

Click for larger image

Dutch East Indies Notes
Issued from 1942 to 1945, the Japanese-issued "gulden" banknotes were 1, 5, and 10 cents as well as 1/2, 1, 5, and 10 gulden (first issued in 1942). There was also a second issue of 1/2, 1, 5, 10, and 100 "roepiah" (first issued in 1944). By the end of 1944, there were nearly 2 billion gulden in circulation. This led to inflationary problems and the issuance of the roepiah, which was also depreciated.

For my own collection, I currently only have guldens.

I have the 5 cent note (Pick #120c), 1/2 gulden (Pick #122b), and the 10 gulden (Pick #125c).

Click for larger image

Here's the reverse side

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Philippine Notes
As with Japan's other conquered territories, the occupation forces issued new currency for the Philippines. Locals often referred to the money as "Micky Mouse Money". This term belies the economic reality that when Japan overran American forces and took the country, they confiscated millions in American currency (which was backed by gold) as well as bullion to use in their war efforts. In turn, Japan issued these "Micky Mouse" notes - fiat currency that was backed by nothing but force.

The 1942 issue had notes ranging in denomination from 1 centavo to 10 pesos. As inflation began to worsen, Japan reissued notes between 1943 and 1945 that had denominations of 1 peso to 1,000 pesos.

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These four notes are: a 1942 issue 10 pesos (Pick #108a) followed by a 1943 issue 10 pesos (Pick #111). There's also a 1944 issue 100 pesos (Pick #112) and a 1945 issue 1,000 pesos (Pick #115c).

Here's the reverse side of the notes.

Click for larger image
During the occupation, the Philippines saw many guerrilla groups and uprisings. Local areas would issue their own "emergency currency" backed by the government-in-exile. Though these notes were illegal in the eyes of the occupying authorities, millions of notes from multiple areas were printed. These were largely basic in design and used low-quality paper, meaning much of the existing notes today are in poor condition. Additional information can be found here.

Below are three of the smaller notes produced. The first is a 50 centavos note from 1944 (Pick #S522a), issued by the Mindanao Emergency Currency Board. The second note is a 1 peso note, also from 1944, (Pick #S668a) and was issued by the Negros ECB. Finally, there's a 1 peso note issued in 1943 (Pick #S139b) that was issued by the Bohol ECB.

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Reverse side

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This is a 50 centavo note from 1942 (Pick #S576c). It was issued by the Misamis Occidental Agency of the Philippines.

Here is a 1942 5 pesos note issued by the Bohol ECB (Pick #S136d). The signatures on the reverse side are common to this note and may have been a way to deter counterfeiting.

I have another 5 pesos note, this time issued by the Negros ECB. It was issued in 1944 (Pick #S674).

Lastly, for the Philippines, I have a 2 pesos issued in 1942 by the Negros ECB (Pick #S647a) and a 10 pesos note, also from 1942 but issued by the Mindanao ECB. I'd like to mention that during World War II, Mindanao was the site of an important battle involving tens of thousands of soldiers and was key to the liberation of the country in 1945.

Click for larger image

Malaya Notes
Occupation currency was issued for Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo, and Brunei from 1942 to 1945. In part due to the fact that many notes lacked serial numbers, and because local officials would simply print more money whenever they needed it, inflation took off in 1944 requiring the introduction of 100 and 1,000 'dollar' notes. The total denomination range was 1, 5, 10, and 50 cent note and 1, 5, 10, 100, and 1,000 dollar notes. Unlike many of the notes produced in other areas, the Malaya dollars weren't simply copied off a press and they have a feel similar to that of American currency - with raised ink.

The 50 cents (Pick #M46), 1 dollar (Pick #M5c), and the 10 dollar note (Pick #M7b) were issued in 1942.

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I also have the 100 dollar note (Pick #M8c). I think this is one of the more aesthetically pleasing invasion notes issued by Japanese authorities in any of their territories.

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--Jacob Bogle, 7/27/16


Friday, July 31, 2015

WWII German Artifacts, Stamps, and Coins

This is Part One of a three part series detailing my World War II collection. Part I deals with Nazi German artifacts, stamps, and coins. Part II focuses on the currency of Imperial Japan's occupied territories. Part III features notes from Theresienstadt concentration camp and Allied issued "Victory Money" from Germany and Japan.

World War II was the most devastating and widespread war in human history. Tracing its roots to the end of World War I, both Germany and Japan (although on the winning side, Japan was largely ignored at the peace talks) sought to redeem their "honor" through conquest. The war saw roughly 100 million take up arms, involved nearly every country on Earth (though many didn't take an active role in the physical fight), and resulted in over 60 million civilian and military deaths.

The destruction caused by the war and the amount of unadulterated cruelty expressed during it left a permanent mark on humanity's collective memory.

As the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII approaches (Sept. 2, 2015), the number of living witnesses to the horrors and triumphs of the war (as well as first-hand memories that can remind us of what that war taught us and of how we should always remain vigilant to the dangers of intolerance and all-powerful government) is shrinking.

As someone who grew up primarily in the post-Cold War era, but whose ancestors answered the call, my contribution to their sacrifice and victory must be ensuring that their legacy continues and that the tangible remnants of that time survive. I have put together a modest collection of artifacts from Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Allied occupation that followed. This collection will continue to expand, but given the significance of the upcoming anniversary I want to share with you what I have and the stories and meanings behind these objects.

NOTE: click on each image to view a larger version. 

The first item is this 1935 Hitler Youth Sports Festival Pin.

Nazi ideology held that "Ayrans" were a master race and that the primary Ayran group were Germans. The Nazis prized youth and used sports as a way to improve and buildup the next generation of this Aryan super race. The Hitler Youth had roots dating back to 1922, but by 1933 it had become the sole youth league in Germany and membership was, in essence, mandatory. The Hitler Youth also served as a means of indoctrinating each new generation in their racial ideology as well as being a paramilitary group. And, in conjunction with the Nazi breeding program Lebensborn, it was hoped that these organizations would ensure that the Third Reich would last a thousand years. 

By 1935 some 60% of German youth belonged to Hitler Youth organizations. During the 1935 Sports Festival, various medals and pins were awarded to those who met the strict physical standards and who preformed in the numerous athletic events. These pins aren't necessarily rare, but they do underscore the lengths Nazi Germany went to to control every aspect of German life; and predominately, to control the nation's youth.  

Item Number Two, a gold Nazi "sweetheart" locket.

"Sweetheart" lockets have been around for centuries. They're used to hold a small picture of a wife, girlfriend, family, or other loved ones. This small 10kt gold locket has a bold Swastika on its front with a small diamond in the center. 

The back of the locket features a calligraphic "H", most likely in honor of Hitler. (Though, it's possible the owner's last name started with an "H"). 

The interior has a small place for a round photo, a photo which vanished long ago.

When I first acquired it, I was overcome with emotion when confronted with the prospect that the soldier who owned the locket was killed and the locket taken by the victorious Allied soldier as a trophy (which was a very common practice among all participants of the war). And so, I was holding an object that embodied love and loss, victory and defeat, and life and death. However, after inspecting it longer, I have come to believe that it was found sometime after the German soldier was either killed or after he lost it during the course of the war.

The level of corrosion and lack of a photo is evidence that this had been stuck in the ground for some time, and wasn't taken immediately after a fight as a trophy. Despite not knowing the full history of this little artifact, it still represents all that is good and evil in humanity, and, for me at least, serves as a powerful messenger of the greatest war in human history.

The next set of items are various German stamps, beginning with a few pre-Nazi stamps and then others issued throughout the Nazi period.

Hitler's rise to power was helped in no small part by the failure of the Weimar Republic to stabilize Germany's economy after the First World War.

Here's a collection of these Weimar hyperinflation stamps. These were printed in 1922-23. Their denominations go from 100 Marks up to a whopping 50 million Marks (though others were made with far higher values). You can find some more information about these stamps here and here.

Below are 20 other Weimar stamps. The top row and first two stamps on the second row are hyperinflation stamps as well, going from 5,000 to 2 million Marks. They were overprinted on older, lesser value stamps, which is a very common practice during periods of rampant inflation. The next two stamps on the second row are 6 and 100 Mark stamps from 1921. The rest of the stamps are the same ones as above.

Now, onto the Nazi period stamps. 

Starting in 1941, Germany begin printing this style of postage stamp which feature Adolf Hitler facing right. The denominations of these stamps ranged from 1 pfennig up to 80 pf. I have three blocks (original connected sets of the same stamp) of these stamps: 1 pf, 24 pf, and 40 pf. 

This grouping has another "Hitler Head" stamp of the same series as above, except it's a 20 pf stamp. The eight stamps below feature the swastika and were printed in 1934. The whole series' denominations range from 3 pf to 50 pf. The Michel Catalog numbers (MiNr) of these go from 132 to 143. My own German stamp collection is limited, but between 1933 and 1945, Germany had a lot of different stamp designs. If you'd like to look at others, check out this site.

Coins of the Reich that was to last a thousand years are less varied than their stamps.

Germany minted coins with denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 pfennigs as well as silver coins of 2 and 5 Reichsmark, plus a 1 RM coin made of nickel that was produced after they came to power in 1933. Their coins were minted at seven locations: Berlin (A), Vienna (B), Munich (D), Dresden (E), Stuttgart (F), Karlsruhe (G), and Hamburg (J).

Above, is a collection of zinc coins minted between 1940 and 44. The top row are 1 pfennig coins (1940-44). The second row are 5 pfennig coins (1940, 42, and 43). The third row are 10 pfennig coins (1940-42). The final coin is a 1942-D (Munich) One Pfennig.

Here's a closeup image of each denomination.

From 1936 onward, with the exception of two specially produced silver coins, all regular issue coins bore the state emblem of Nazi Germany - the eagle and swastika.

I also have a simple 1 pf coin that has been made special by the presence of a fingerprint. I don't know when the print was made, but usually for the oils of a finger to permanently affect a coin it needs to happen while the coin is still in mint condition. This leads me to believe that the fingerprint was laid by one of the first people to touch that coin during the war. You can see the lines along the top.

Finally, I have 4 silver coins to show you.

The top coin is a 2 Reichsmark silver coin minted in 1939 at Munich. It features Paul von Hindenburg who died in 1934. The bottom right coin is a 5 RM version.

The other two coins on the left are also 5 RM silver coins and they bear the Garrison Church in Potsdam, Germany. Most of the church was destroyed during an air raid in 1945.

Here's a picture of the reverse side of these coins.

Don't forget to check out Part Two.

--Jacob Bogle, 7/31/15


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Metal Prices October 2012

In a rather sharp contrast to the past several months metals have fallen and the dollar has risen in value.

For the month of October (Sept 23-Nov 7) the US Dollar Index has risen around 1%

Silver is down about 6%

Gold is down 3.6%

Copper is down 6.7%

A general rule of thumb is, if the dollar rises the price of commodities fall. In our current economic climate, without knowing the full extent that QE-3 will have and the wild market fluctuations after the presidential election, it is difficult to know what November will look like.

The fundamentals of Americas mixed-economy (part free, part government managed), have kept the prices of many goods either artificially high or artificially low which, no doubt, will keep stability at arms length.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Metal Prices for September 2012

The general trend for the past month is that metals have risen and the dollar fallen.

For the month of September (23rd) the Dollar Index (DXY) is down roughly 3%

Silver is up 10.7%

Gold is up 10.4%

Over the past 60 days Copper is also up around 11%

I will be updating these 4 charts on or about the 23rd of each month. Kitco's shortest chart for Copper is 60 days so there will be some overlap between months.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quick Guide to Currency Collecting

I started collecting with a single purchase back in 1997 yet little did I realize how fun, frustrating, consuming and rewarding collecting would be. Today, as a more serious collector, I am working on building a large collection encompassing every country that has existed since 1960 including many "national" collections that have several notes from the selected countries dating back to the 1800s.

Coin collecting is America’s most popular hobby and although numismatics includes paper money when it comes to collecting cash it’s pretty hard to find out how to do it or where to start. Books on coins are everywhere and the most important ones are less than $20. Books dealing with foreign currency on the other hand are few, expensive and heavy. Of course it’s understandable that they’d be pricey and large, there are 200 or so countries, but not everyone is out to build a collection like mine. To be honest, while I know they exist I’ve never found another person who has a collection like mine.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of collection you want. Do you want a European one, nations of the Christian/Muslim world, WWII countries, pre-WWII notes, modern, notes with animals or famous people, or one that contains all of the notes of a specific country? Once you’ve done that it’s really important to have a way to keep them safe.

I use 3-ring notebooks and safe plastic holders that can hold 3 notes each. They’re easy to find, cheap and above all else, safe. It’s incredibly important that what you house your collection in won’t actually harm it in the long-term. Paper envelopes, tape etc can all contain chemicals that will discolor or ruin a collection especially since notes are made of many different materials. Personally, I use BCW Supplies, an online store. But there are many others you can pick from including your local hobby store.

After that I’d recommend buying a used copy of the “Standard Catalog of World Paper Money”. It comes in 2 volumes, Vol. 1 is 1368-1960, Vol. 2 1960-present. There is also a volume of “special issues” but you only need that if you’re interested in banknotes that aren’t commonly issued to the public, special treasury bills etc. Each catalog is around 1,200 pages long but you can usually find a used one on Ebay or Amazon.com for under $40, new ones can cost up to $85. Start with the one that best suits your needs, no reason to buy all 3 if you’re only collecting modern notes.

The reason having the catalog is so important is because it gives you A LOT of information and it has the values of most issues. The first rule in the value of something is this: something is only as valuable as someone is willing to pay, no matter how rare. The book is just a good guideline, you may find things for sale cheaper or more expensive, it just matters how much you want it. Often times you can find notes for sale far below the book price, but, there are times when it will cost more. Having knowledge of similar notes can help you determine if the higher price is really worth it, and at times it is.

A large part of a notes value comes from its condition. A note in “Very Good’ condition may be worth $8 while the same note in “Uncirculated” could be worth $550. Banknote grading guides vary from publisher to publisher but are fairly uniform until the higher grades. Banknotes, like coins, are graded along a 70 point scale; the higher the number the higher the grade. In order to keep your notes protected I recommend that you use white cotton gloves to handle them and to do so gently as to not bend or otherwise damage them. If you don't have cotton gloves make sure your hands have been washed and are free of any dirt, food, sticky substances etc. Having a 10x magnifier is also a good idea so you can inspect the many small details modern notes have and to detect possible errors.
The following guide is a mix of the two most widely used grading scales:
 Fair/Poor 0-3 (Fair or Pr): Heavily soiled, may have multiple tears, holes, faded, difficult to read, little more than a rag. Notes in this condition are worthless except in cases of high rarity. If you can’t find a note in a better condition then they could be used as a “place holder” until you find a better one.

Good 4-7 (G): Very worn, limp, may have small tears or holes, staining etc. There is a difference between a G4 and a G7, less damaged. Most old notes still circulating will be in this condition.

Very Good 8-11 (VG): Well circulated but intact, without large pieces missing. There may be staple holes, light staining, rounded corners, small corner may be missing. Most collectors won’t collect anything in a lesser grade.
Fine 12-19 (F): Circulated, no corners missing, may have folds or creases, not totally limp (or soft), colors are more clear, minor discoloration, rounded corners, pinholes may be present, no tears.

Very Fine 20-29 (VF): Attractive, few folds, creases, note still retains some crispness, small stains or soiling.
Very Fine+ 30-39 (VF+): Colors are bright, less than 5 fold lines, looks similar to an Extremely Fine note but with more folds, a corner may be rounded and other minor differences.

Extremely Fine 40-49 (EF): Less than 3 folds (folds are light), crisp overall, very attractive, clean, all corners are sharp.
About Uncirculated 50-59 (AU): Minor evidence of handling, may have a single fold line either vertical or horizontal, corners sharp, may have a pinhole, no creases, may have minor crimps.

Uncirculated 60-69 (UNC): Never mishandled, 1 minor fold, no staining, clean, firm/crisp paper, corners are square, no edge marks. Lower grads may have printing off center, higher grades more centered.
UNC 70: Perfect, crisp, no marks, folds, stains, holes, perfect registration and 50/50 margins (printing perfectly centered). Very rare.


1. Values will not often be given for notes under VG8 other than their face value or in cases of rarity.
2. Remember, there are differences between each number, the higher the number the better the quality, even 1 less fold or rounded corner can increase the grade by a point.

3. A “crease” is a line, fold or other mark that has “broken” the paper, its feature has gone all the way through and can be seen on the other side of the note, it has broken the crispness of that area. The term “broken” doesn’t mean an actual tear or rip.

4. Pinholes are small holes, usually the size of a sewing pin or staple, which have normally been placed there by the government or bank for various purposes. Other holes may be similar but larger and may represent a cancelled note or specimen. Small pinholes may be acceptable for lower UNC grades. Holes placed there by the government (larger, may spell a word) for specimen notes will also be acceptable for grades under 69.

5. Some folds or creases may be the result of the printing and counting process by the government. These crimps have become more common with the introduction of wide security threads. Notes without these features may command a higher price.
6. For grades Very Fine and higher notes with a higher grade within the main grade (like EF 45) may also be called “Choice EF” or EF+, AU+ etc.

* This grading scale is a combination of the two most commonly used. For more information check out the Paper Money Guaranty http://www.pmgnotes.com/grading/grading-scale.asp or the Standard Catalog grading definitions.
After you have the supplies you need and some basic information the next, and best, step is to start collecting!

Finding different banknotes is much easier to do today than even 10 years ago. Some companies like Littleton Coin offer collecting programs. The benefit of such a program is you get notes every month and can pick which ones you want to buy and which you don’t. The down side is the prices are generally far more than they’re worth and you won’t be able to find older notes.
If you have a coin shop in your town they will likely have paper money as well. Using your local shop is a great way to meet people with similar interests, learn new information and find rare notes or ones in higher conditions. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to help your local economy.

If you don’t have a local shop or you can’t find what you want there you can always use the Internet. Sites like Ebay.com or banknote specific sites will have a wide variety of notes and they’ll usually be at decent prices. Do some searches and find a seller you trust. If they don’t offer returns, ask extremely high prices or don’t answer your questions you will want to find another seller.
Here are some sites you might find useful:

1. American Numismatic Association www.money.org
2. BCW Supplies www.bcwsupplies.com
3. Ultra-Pro Products www.ultrapro.com  

4. Banknotes.com www.banknotes.com

5. Heritage Auctions www.ha.com
6. Constellation Numismatic (Error notes) www.errorcurrency.com

7.  Ebay www.ebay.com

8. Tom Chao (Seller and lots of information) www.tomchao.com  
9. Page’s Coins and Currency www.pagescoinsandcurrency.com

10. Me, if you can’t find what you’re looking for send me an email at Jacob_bogle@yahoo.com or see my Ebay profile http://myworld.ebay.com/coinmanj

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hyperinflation in Hungary

Most people know about Zimbabwe's trillion dollar notes or have heard stories about Germans using worthless Marks for wallpaper, but what few realize is that Hungary broke all the records.

Between 1945 and 1946, Hungary was in a state of hyperinflation, with inflation rates reaching 41.9 quintillion percent. (That's 41,900,000,000,000,000,000%)

During this time Hungary printed 2 record-shattering banknotes. One would be the highest denomination ever issued, and the other the highest ever printed.

The 1946 Szazmillio-B Pengo (Pick #136) had a value of 100,000,000 B or 100 million million million, 10^20 and was the highest denomination ever issued in history. In un-circulated condition its collector value is worth about $50.

The 1946 Egymilliard-B Pengo (Pick #137) had a value of  1 milliard B or 100 million trillion, 10^21 was printed but never released. However, some made their way into collectors hands and in un-circulated condition would be worth $200+.

Shortly after they began printing a new note, the Adopengo (tax pengo), but it too suffered from rampant inflation creating the need to print a 10,000,000 Adopengo note.

In the end, Hungary had to reintroduce the Forint. The Forint's value was so high (4x10^29) that the combined worth of all pengo's in circulation came to 1/1000th of a single Forint. The exchange rate for Adopengo's to Forints was set at 200,000,000:1. At the time $1 was worth 11.74 Forints.

All of this reminds me of our current situation in the US. Since the introduction of the Federal Reserve Dollar in 1913, it has lost nearly all of its value  - being worth only $0.04 today compared to 1913. The Federal Reserve announced today that it would initiate a new round of quantitative easing (QE3) which basically means printing more money without any real value behind it. Even experts doubt it will help our economy and will bring commodity prices higher and higher. Could we too be on the verge of a 100 quadrillion dollar note?