ODESSA, 25 rubli, 1917


RUSSIA, ODESSA, 25 rubli, 1917, Face: underprint building columns on left, no watermark, P-S337b, fox spot, XF-AU

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Odessa, in Crimea, home of the Black Sea Fleet.

Coin collection was illegal in the Soviet Union. It was defined as anti-social hoarding. The coins all went into hiding for seventy years. But banknotes were OK to collect because they had all been demonetized and weren’t worth anything.

Russia started making paper money in the 18th century. Generally speaking, during the Empire the relationship of paper to gold was, shall we say, fraught. There was a great outpouring of local notes during the Revolution and the Civil War, and again in the last years of the Soviet Union and a few years after.

For organizational purposes, banknote collectors tend to make a distinction between national issues and local issues. The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money has a volume dedicated to “specialized” issues, where about 20,000 items are listed. A “complete” catalog would likely have at least 10 times that number. The Standard Catalog numbers for “specialized” notes are designated P-S. There are special catalogs for various series such as German and Austrian notgeld, former Soviet Union, etc.

Paper money, meaning the promise of a government to pay a set amount, and the paper promise allowed to circulate at will, was probably first used in China in the 12th century AD. At that time the merchants and governments of Europe were just writing letters to each other about what they owed.