I don’t know if I’ve discussed this here, in the NGC journal specifically, but those that follow my PMG writings will know I’ve been building a set of Venezuelan Hyper-Bolivars (Bolivares Fuerte, Bolivares Soberano and now Bolivares Digital) as a kind of sister set to the Zimbabwe Hyperinflation set, and I’ve been trying to follow what’s going on with that. And so. the other day an interesting article from Bloomberg popped up for me.
In 2008/2009 the Zimbabwean economy “dollarized” even before they suspended the currency - meaning they were mostly using the US dollar and not the domestic currency, but the US dollar was just the dominant currency in a “multi-currency system” that included yuan, euros, South African Rand, and currency from neighboring Botswana.
We’re currently seeing something very similar with Venezuela with the Mexican Peso, Brazilian Reais and Euros being used instead of Bolivares - but predominantly the US Dollar.
But Venezuela and Zimbabwe have something else in common - they’re both gold-producing countries. And there something very interesting has apparently started happening in some of the more remote areas. People have started paying for things in grams of gold and using gold flakes as currency.
It sounds like something out of a Gold Rush town in California in the 1850s.
In this Bloomberg article it talks about people paying for haircuts with fractions of a gram of gold using very accurate digital scales.
There’s something almost funny about the 500 Bolivar note being used as a wrapper for the gold flakes.
On an unrelated note, I’ve been starting to look into Venezuelan coins in relation to the 1 Bolivar Digital coin coming out. I’ll probably have more to say on this later when and if it produces something, but one thing that caught my attention were some early 20th Century gold 10 and 20 Bolivar coins that are basically the same size as the European gold coins, I’ve been trying to collect from the same time period. I think I’m going to add this to the list with the 20 Kroner and Swiss 20 Francs to the list of these gold coins I want to add to that set / collection. You don’t really get this kind of thing with Zimbabwe because, even when the country was Rhodesia, they just used British coinage until after WWI (issuance of Rhodesian coins started in 1932), and so you don’t really see even Rhodesian gold coins. While Zimbabwe issued some silver NCLT in 1996, I don’t think Zimbabwe has ever produced a single gold coin under the name “Zimbabwe.” Certainly, none I’m currently aware of.
Adrian123456 has some really nice sets of coins from the reigns of George V and George VI that are worth checking out - unlike with one of my sets they don’t punish you with a lot of long-winded drivel. That might be a plus or not depending on your feelings on my drivel. But I have digressed on this enough - for now.
As part of starting to think about Venezuelan coins I recently went digging in my binder because I thought I had at least one coin from that country, and I did find it - a 1986-dated (birthyear! Woot!) 5 centimos coin. I think this was probably a pocket-change pick-up for me or a family member back in the day. It was made too late to be one of the coins my grandfather brought back. Living in Texas, you get things in your change sometimes from countries south of the border. It’s mostly stuff from Mexico from someone’s weekend trip through Brownsville but sometimes you get things from Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, etc. I always used to keep these when I found them but I hardly ever get pocket change now.