Thursday, July 31, 2008

Zimbabwe Knocks 10 Zeros Off Currency

Last Updated: July 30, 2008: 6:16 AM EDT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe's central bank governor says he is knocking 10 zeros off the country's hyper-inflated currency to make 10 billion dollars become one dollar.

Old 100 Billion Dollars ($100,000,000,000)
New $10 (100 Billion Dollars after dropping 10 zeros)

Zimbabwe suffers the highest inflation rate in the world. Governor Gideon Gono says that high rate is constraining operations of the country's computer systems. Computers, electronic calculators and automated teller machines at banks have not been able to handle basic transactions in billions and trillions of dollars.

Just last week Gono introduced a new 100 billion-dollar note that is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.

Gono said on Aug. 1 the bank will issue a 500-dollar bill equivalent to 5 trillion dollars at the current rate.

Comment by Nutmegcollector
July 31, 2008

So Zimbabwe actually issued a new $5 trillion dollar note disguised as $500. If you consider the 3 zeros dropped on August 2006, this $500 is really $5 quadrillion (15 zeros) pre-2006 dollars.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Man Wants to Exchange $5.2 Million Decomposing Bills for Clean Cash

By MATT APUZZO and ALICIA A. CALDWELL Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON July 28, 2008 (AP)

The businessman arrived at the Treasury Department carrying a suitcase stuffed with about $5.2 million.

The bills were decomposing, nearly unrecognizable, and he asked to swap them for a cashier’s check. He said the money came from Mexico.

Money like this normally arrives in an armored truck or insured shipping container after a bank burns or a vault floods. It doesn’t just show up at the visitor’s entrance on a Tuesday morning. But the banking habits of Franz Felhaber had stopped making sense to the government long ago.

For the past few years, authorities say, he and his family have popped in and out of U.S. banks, looking to change about $20 million in buried treasure for clean cash.

The money is always the same — decaying $100 bills from the 1970s and 1980s.

It’s the story that keeps changing:

It was an inheritance. Somebody dug up a tree and there it was. It was found in a suitcase buried in an alfalfa field. A relative found a treasure map.

Felhaber is a customs broker, a middleman.

His company, F.C. Felhaber & Co., is just minutes away from the bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Felhaber says the money is not his. A Mexican relative, Francisco Javier Ramos Saenz-Pardo, merely sought help exchanging money that had been buried for decades, Felhaber says.

“To be very clear on this matter: In the beginning, I was not told what it was,” Felhaber told The Associated Press.

Money petrifies after sitting underground that long, and Felhaber said it looked like a brick of adobe. The Treasury will exchange even badly damaged money, but Felhaber said Saenz-Pardo did not want to handle the process himself.

If the goal were to avoid unwarranted attention, Felhaber went about it all wrong. Rather than making a simple — albeit large — exchange at the Treasury, Felhaber allegedly began trying to exchange smaller amounts at El Paso-area banks, raising suspicion every time.

The first stop was the Federal Reserve Bank in El Paso, where authorities say Felhaber appeared with an uncle, Jose, and an aunt, Esther. In her purse, Esther carried $120,000. She told bank officials there were millions more.

Felhaber was back at it again weeks later, this time at a Bank of America branch. Customs officials say he unsuccessfully tried to persuade a bank vice president to dispatch an armored truck to the Mexican border to pick up millions of dollars.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents questioned Felhaber in October 2005. According to a government summary of that interview, Felhaber said he believed the money was the result of a land deal. The money was buried in a coffin, he said.

In January 2006, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing received a package containing about $136,000 from Jose Carrillo-Valles, Felhaber’s uncle. Felhaber’s business was listed as the return address. The letter explained the money had been stored in a basement for 22 years.

Following the money, investigators interviewed Carrillo-Valles and his wife. Each denied ever sending or receiving the money, according to a government affidavit.

In April 2007, the case moved from being suspicious to becoming a criminal investigation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials called the Justice Department, saying Felhaber had just arrived in person with about $1.2 million.

This April, Felhaber was back at the Treasury, this time with a suitcase containing $5.2 million. Investigators say they have found no import documents filed for this deal, a violation of cash smuggling laws.

Prosecutors moved in. Felhaber’s two Treasury visits gave them probable cause to seize the money — both the $1.2 million and the $5.2 million.

None of the documents filed in federal court accuses Felhaber of being involved in drugs. They leave open the possibility that somebody merely came across a cache of drug money, forgotten or abandoned in the desert.

In the coming weeks, the Justice Department plans to seek forfeiture of the seized $6.4 million. That means Felhaber and his family will have the opportunity to ask for their money back.

If they do, they’ll have to explain where it came from.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rare Bank of Vancouver Note Sold for $28,750

John Mackie, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, July 28, 2008

A rare $5 banknote from the long-defunct Bank of Vancouver has sold for a record $28,750.

Marc Verret of C&P Numismatics in Quebec City auctioned the note at the Canadian Numismatic Association convention in Ottawa on July 18. It had belonged to an Alberta collector, who purchased it in an auction in the United States about 15 years ago. Verret declined to give the buyer's or seller's names, citing client confidentiality.

The Bank of Vancouver was launched in the midst of a real estate and industrial boom in 1910 by some of B.C.'s most prominent capitalists, including the lieutenant-governor, James Paterson, and future Vancouver mayor William Malkin, of Malkin Bowl fame. But the boom went bust, and the bank went out of business on Dec. 14, 1914.

The bank's headquarters was in the Flack Block, a beautiful heritage building at Cambie and Hastings that recently underwent a $20-million restoration.

It issued $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 banknotes, but only a handful remain, and they almost never come up for sale.

"I've only ever seen one Bank of Vancouver banknote in 25 years in the business," said Brian Grant Duff of All Nations Coins and Stamps in Vancouver.

"In the past I've only ever been able to find [uncirculated] proof notes where archives had them, and they came to market. I've had good success with those, but I've never seen a real banknote [for sale]."

B.C.'s premier banknote collector, Ron Greene, said he knows of only nine Bank of Vancouver circulating banknotes: six fives, two tens and one twenty. No fifties or hundreds seem to have survived, aside from proofs.

The $5 note that was just sold looks like it's been through the wringer: It's wrinkled, has some small water stains and has been written on in pen. But it's still quite striking. It's green in colour, and features a Vancouver harbour scene on the front and the legislature buildings in Victoria on the back.

"There aren't a lot of really great notes," said Greene.

"[But] there is one that is a lot nicer, and with a better serial number: i.e., No. 1. I had heard rumours of it 25 years ago, and it turned up about 10 years ago. It would reasonably carry a premium on it [if it ever came up for sale]."

Banks issued their own money until 1935, and when the bank went under, there was reportedly $325,000 in Bank of Vancouver notes in circulation. Most were probably redeemed by other banks and then destroyed.

Greene said there is $3,200 in Bank of Vancouver money still outstanding, so it's possible there may be other notes in collections no one knows about.

At its height, the Bank of Vancouver had a dozen branches scattered around the province with four in Vancouver, two in Victoria and one each in South Vancouver, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Chilliwack, Fort Fraser and Fort George (now Prince George), he said.

He said the bank's collapse was linked to the financial woes of the time.

"British Columbia entered a depression at the end of 1912-1913," said Greene.

"The money that was coming from England and from Germany, that was pouring into the province and created a boom, just got turned off. Both countries realized they were going to war."

It wasn't the only local financial institution that collapsed.

"The immediate cause [of the bank's failure] is probably that the Dominion Trust collapsed a couple of months before it," said Greene.

"There was a run on the bank at one point and they managed to weather that, but they didn't manage to weather the run on the Dominion Trust company when it failed."

The Bank of Vancouver was one of three British Columbia banks that sprang up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The others were the Macdonald and Company Bank (1858-1864), which went out of business after a robbery, and the first Bank of British Columbia (1862-1901), which was taken over by the Bank of Commerce.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

$500 Gold Certificate Sold for $97,750 at Auction

Bowers and Merena Baltimore Rarities Auction at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront on July 26, 2008 included 200 United States currency lots. The highest price realized was a 1928 $500 Gold Certificate.

Lot # 164
Fr. 2407. 1928 $500 Gold Certificate. PMG Gem Uncirculated 65EPQ.

Final Bid $97,750.00

Description: Truly Uncirculated $500 1928 Gold Certificates are rare, indeed. The example we offer tonight quite clearly deserves its premium grade. Only three of this number have been certified at the "65" level and only a single example has ever earned a certification any higher from PMG. The often faded overprint is boldly bright. Quite simply an extremely scarce item in a superior grade attested to by PMG. Bid accordingly. This is the kind of item that will immediately propel the collection that it enters tonight to a new level of respect and significance within the collecting fraternity. Est. $80,000 - $100,000

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Zimbabwe Introduces $100 Billion Banknotes

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN)
July 19, 2008

Zimbabwe's troubled central bank introduced new $100 billion banknotes Saturday in a desperate bid to ease the recurrent cash shortages plaguing the inflation-ravaged economy.

The new bills officially come into circulation Monday, although they were already on the foreign currency dealers market Saturday.

As high as they are, though, the new bills still aren't enough to buy a loaf of bread. They can only buy four oranges.

The new note is equal to just one U.S. dollar

Once-prosperous Zimbabwe has seen an unprecedented economic meltdown since it gained independence in 1980, with the official inflation rate now at 2.2 million percent.

Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said the new notes are for "the convenience of the banking public and corporate sector" in light of price hikes.

"The RBZ has noted with concern the unjustifiable and incessant general increases in prices of goods and services. It is therefore appealing to the business community to follow ethical business practices as well as take an interest in the plight of the general public," Gono said in a statement dated Friday.

Zjmbabwe started issuing large banknotes in December, starting with denominations of $250,000.

In January, the government issued bills in denominations of $1 million, $5 million, and $10 million -- and in May, it issued bills from $25 million and $50 million up to $25 billion and $50 billion.

The new bills are actually bearer checks and have an expiration date of December 31. Zimbabwe has not had formal currency since the introduction of bearer checks as a temporary measure in 2003.

"The RBZ is fighting a losing battle," said economist John Robertson in Harare. "As long as the inflation remains high, cash shortages will persist. There is need to address the inflation by increasing production so that too goods do not (cost) a lot of money."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hong Kong Unveiled New $20 Banknotes Commemorating the 2008 Olympic Games

By Lillian Liu
China Daily/HK Edition
Updated: 2008-07-12 13:49

Hong Kong's newest banknotes probably won't see much circulation.

It's more likely they'll be framed or placed between two clear, plastic sheets.

That's because they're limited edition collectibles commemorating the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Just two days after tens of thousands of mainlanders filled with Olympic spirit lined up outside banks to purchase new 10 yuan notes, Hong Kong unveiled its own 20-dollar notes on Friday.

The notes are the first to feature an Olympic theme in the history of the Games.

The Hong Kong notes will be available to the public on Wednesday at designated Bank of China (Hong Kong) (BOCHK) branches.

A total of 4 million notes were made, and 3.76 million will be sold in Hong Kong at prices ranging from HK$138 to HK$1,338. The remainder will be available in Macao and overseas.

He Guangbei, vice chairman and chief executive of BOCHK, said that as a note-issuing bank in Hong Kong, BOCHK is honored to commemorate the Beijing Olympic Games with this banknote.

"The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is a momentous international event that all Chinese will be proud of," he said Friday. "We share the pride with all Hong Kong citizens."

Sale arrangement

The HK$20 banknotes are being sold individually for nearly seven times their face value.

Additionally, 4-in-1 sheets are available for HK$338, about 4.5 times their face value; and 35-in-1 sheets are available for HK$1,388, or nearly twice the bills' face value.

The sales period will be divided into two phases. The first phase is from July 16-31 at 50 BOCHK branches. The second phase is from August 8-22 at the venue of the Olympic Equestrian Events, BOCHK said.

The notes will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis at the branches. Each person will be limited to purchasing one set of each type, per visit.

Ann Kung, head of channel management at BOCHK, said that each designated outlet bank will sell 1,000 single notes, but the bank may adjust the sales quantity of the single notes depending on demand.

All the notes will be sold randomly, meaning customers won't be allowed to select designated serial numbers, she said.

Bill features

The front of the banknote features the remains of the ancient Olympic stadium, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games' emblem and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. On the back is the Beijing Olympic Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest".

It shares the same color and size as the HK$20 note issued by BOCHK in 2003. The new banknote also incorporates new security features, such as bright-and-highlighted watermarks and color-changing windowed thread.

The issuer indicated that the banknote may not be accepted by vending and ticketing machines. BOCHK will only exchange it according to its face value.

All the more reason not to spend it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bank Returns Rare $1,000 Bills to Customer

MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) — A woman who deposited two $1,000 bills bearing President Grover Cleveland's face later got a call from bank officials asking her to retrieve the money.

The crisp bills weren't fakes — it turned out they are a rare 1934 currency worth far more than their $1,000 face value.

The bank returned the bills to the woman for ethical reasons because of their considerable value, said Michael Mellon, American Savings Bank's president and chief executive officer.

"We explained it would be to the best interest of everybody if the customer picked up the bills and sold them to get a higher return," he said. "We are a community bank that really looks out for our customers."

John Hodson of Hodson Coins/Jewelry in Munster said the bills are so rare they would bring a low end of $3,500 and a high end of $4,500.

"There is a premium on these $1,000 bills," he said.

The woman, who was not identified for security purposes, arrived at the bank Wednesday morning and stepped to a teller window to make a $2,000 deposit. When bank workers saw the two bills, they weren't sure what to make of them.

"I thought, 'She's going to need more because there is not nearly enough here for $2,000,'" said bank employee Mary Ann Vlasich, who believed the bills were hundreds.

When she looked closer, Vlasich was shocked to see they were $1,000 bills — a large denomination that no one at the bank had seen before.

"I've seen $500s, but thousands, especially in this good of a condition, are just really rare. Everyone wanted to take a look at them," Mellon said.

The customer told Mellon the bills came from a relative a long time ago and she had no idea what possessed her to bring them into the bank Wednesday.


Information from: The Times,

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Collectors Queue to Buy China's New Olympic Banknotes

By Wang Bo
China Daily
Updated: 2008-07-10 09:02

People queue up to buy Olympic banknotes at a bank in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, yesterday.Wu Jun Inset: A woman holds up one of the limited-edition 10-yuan notes in Beijing. [China Daily]

Dong Changchun was a happy man Wednesday, after his patience was rewarded with one of the 6 million commemorative 10-yuan banknotes issued by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) to celebrate the Beijing Olympics.
"I spent the whole night outside the bank to make sure I got one of the 100 banknotes it was issuing," Dong, who was first in line at the Chedaogou branch of the Bank of China in Beijing yesterday, said.

"But my tiredness soon faded when I got what I had been waiting for," he said.

"The notes are quite meaningful for Chinese people, as they are an everlasting memento of the Beijing Olympic Games," he said.

Long queues of eager buyers formed yesterday outside each of the 300 bank branches in Beijing designated to sell the notes.

An anonymous client manager at the Huixinxijie branch of the Bank of Communications said: "People started queuing last night, and the 50 bills were sold out in less than half an hour after we opened at 8:30."

This latest issuance is the third time the central bank has printed special notes to commemorate a major event. The first was in 1999, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and the second was in 2000, to celebrate the new millennium.

The new 10-yuan note is greenish-blue in color and measures 148.5 mm by 72 mm, making it slightly larger than the regular note in circulation.

On one side is an image of the Bird's Nest stadium set against the Temple of Heaven, and the Beijing Olympic emblem, while on the other is a print of Greek sculptor Myron's famous work "Discobolus" (discus thrower).

The note features watermarks and other anti-counterfeiting technologies, the PBOC said.

Monday, July 7, 2008

China's New 10-yuan Olympic Note Bumps Mao Zedong

By Associated Press
Updated: 7/7/2008

Only the Olympics could bump Mao Zedong, the founding leader of communist China, off a Chinese banknote.

To commemorate the Beijing Olympics, China's central bank is issuing a new 10-yuan note, according to a report by Monday's official Xinhua New s Agency. The note is worth $1.45, the starting price for a taxi ride in the capital.

Mao is gone from the note, replaced by a sketch of the new National Stadium — the Bird's Nest — and the emblem of the Beijing Games, according to the report. Both are set against the backdrop of the Temple of Heaven, one of Beijing's iconic sites.

The back of the note features a statue of a Greek discus-thrower and the year 2008 written in Arabic script.

The bank said it will issue 6 million notes beginning Tuesday, a tiny distribution meant almost as a souvenir. The new note is slightly larger than the ordinary 10-yuan note, which will continue to circulate.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Zimbabwe Inflation Rate Hits Over 9 Million Percent

By Nutmegcollector

Inflation in Zimbabwe has reached an incredible 9.030 million percent, which is a rise of 7.336 million percentage points above that of last month. The last official inflation figure obtained from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) was April 2008 when inflation stood at 165,000 percent. The lack of foreign currency, food shortages and the high election-related populist spending by the government are some of the reasons for the Zimbabwe having the highest inflation rate in the world.

Here are some interesting statistics:

The highest banknote denomination currently in circulation is Z$50 billion.

The exchange rate is US$1 for Z$64 billion

A teacher's salary is about Z$66 billion a month, just enough to buy 2 liters of cooking oil and a bar of soap

An average worker gets about Z$25 billion a month

A loaf of bread costs Z$2 billion

A daily newspaper costs Z$200 million

A bottle of beer Z$16 billion

Zimbabwe is a country where you can be a billionaire but still live in poverty

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pennsylvania Colonial Notes

By William Brandimore, Market Update
June 30, 2008

Ben Franklin printed numerous Pennsylvania and Delaware notes. His nature leaf prints on the backs of notes were effective counterfeit protectors. His company name appears on notes printed in 1764 and earlier. His partner was a man named Hall who teamed up with Sellers after Franklin's retirement from the printing trade. Pennsylvania also used the New York City trick of issuing notes for specific government expenditures. The Insane Asylum note (actually the Walnut Street Jail) and the Lighthouse note raised money for public works such as jail building and piers and lighthouses.

Pennsylvania notes are numerous and widely available. Many well circulated notes can be had for less than $50.

Straits Settlements $1000 1911 Specimen at Spink Auction

By Kerry Rodgers, Market Update
June 30, 2008

A unique discovery arrived unexpectedly out of left field at Spink's headquarters. It has become a late offering in their Singapore banknote auction on 5 July.

It is a remarkable $1000 issue of the Government of the Straits Settlements but dated, 17 March 1911 and with serial number A/1 000001. No $1000 denomination is listed in Standard Catalog of World Paper Money among first issue Strait Settlement notes. The earliest date given for any $1000 note is 1919 for SCWPM#14. The new find will become, presumably, SCWPM#4D.

The $1000 was discovered with an envelope titled SPECIMEN/ON HIS MAJESTYS SERVICE and listing the serial number of the note in ink. It is unlikely to have been prepared as a specimen by the printers. However, when the new issue of $1000 was delivered in 1911, in the absence of a true specimen one was converted into such for reference purposes, by being perforated and stamped SPECIMEN. This was a fairly common practice at the time but seldom occurred with notes of this magnitude. It so happens that the note chosen was that from the top of the bundle and hence was the very first $1000 Straits Settlement note ever printed.

The design of the face parallels the other denominations in this first Straits' series: SCWPM#1-4C. It is printed in grey and black with crowned arms top centre flanked by lion and unicorn. The value is given in a black tablet at center, as a green underprint at low center, and numerically in each corner. It also appears around the margins in Chinese, Malay and Arabic. The serial number is repeated four times at each corner and at lower right are the signatures of the three currency commissioners, Egerton, Mitchell and Davis. On the grey reverse a tiger stalks left, as on the backs of SCWPM#4A-4C, while a kris occupies each quadrant.

The note is in VF condition. The paper still has good body and is of original appearance. The estimate has been set at $240,000-300,000.

Updated July 9, 2008
Sold for S$420,000 = US$308,619