Former U.S. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen is rumored to have once said, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." While scholars now claim he was misquoted, he would never have said that about the African nation Zimbabwe where by 2008 a billion dollars wouldn’t buy a decent cup of coffee.
Zimbabwe is a small African country north of South Africa and west of Mozambique. It’s slightly larger in size than the state of Montana and its population of 13 million is about the same as Illinois. It emerged as an independent nation in 1980 after a colonial history dating back to the late 19th century and a brief existence as the nation of Rhodesia.
The Zimbabwean Dollar
One of the first things a new nation must do is establish a currency, so in 1980, the Zimbabwean dollar (Z$) was introduced to replace the Rhodesian dollar at 1:1. It was originally set at 50% of a British pound, and when it first hit the official exchange market, the Z$ traded at $1.47 US. But that value didn’t last long.
Devaluation and Demonetization
As reality set in, the Z$ began to plunge. It was devalued three times; in 2006 at 1,000:1, 2008 at 10 billion:1, and 2009 at 1 trillion:1. In 2008, a single egg cost Z$50 billion or 32¢ US. Banknotes were introduced with values up to $100 trillion while inflation topped 9 million percent. Economic chaos wrought by a corrupt, authoritarian government reduced the Z$ to one of the least valued currencies in the world.
The Zimbabwean dollar was effectively abandoned as an official currency in April 2009. The official demonetization process of Zimbabwean currency began in June 2015, bringing an end to the Z$ with no plans by the government to reinstitute a native currency.
Today, business in Zimbabwe is conducted in foreign currencies such as the South African rand, the euro, British pounds, U.S. dollars, and those of other countries like India, Japan, Australia, Botswana and China.
Uncirculated AA Series Zimbabwean Banknotes
Largely out of circulation for the past six years, Zimbabwean dollars get harder to find every day, so The Great American Coin Company® is pleased to be able to offer collectors 2008 AA Series uncirculated 100 Trillion Dollar Zimbabwe Banknotes. We also have uncirculated 2008 AA series collectible Zimbabwean banknotes in 10 and 50 million Z$ denominations. These notes are sold as collectible novelties only with no currency value.
You have to admit, though, that it’s pretty cool to have a few trillion dollars in your collection, even if it’s basically worthless. These amazing banknotes are becoming rarer by the day. Get yours now while supplies last!
Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.