Just an observation

So this is by no means a restart of this blog. In a perfect world I’d post regularly (not with years in between), but I simply lack time and motivation. I just had an observation that I’d like to share with the internet.

volodymyryaroslav

At the moment I’m writing an essay on the usage of history on the banknotes of post-independence Ukraine and today I, again, visited the royal coin cabinet of Stockholm. I was very happy to find a couple of coins from the medieval Kiev Rus’ era featuring to dudes which have returned in the modern era. The two coins above are from the 10th and 11th centuries and the feature the Rus’ princes Volodymyr (often called the great) and Yaroslav (the wise). To the right of the coins are portrays of the princes on the current edition of the Ukrainian hryvnia. It’s fascinating that a thousand years since these princes lived they still play an important role in the creation of a modern Ukrainian identity. It should of course be mentioned that they also play a huge role in the creation of modern Russian identity as well, even though I’ve yet to seen them on the ruble.

Who knows, maybe I’ll write some more in the future!

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Communist banknotes: Part 4

China is a country that you really wouldn’t call communistic today. The current Chinese superpower is far from what the country was in the 1950s and 60s. The country is still highly authoritarian with only one accepted political party and with limitations in for example freedom of speech. Economically speaking the country is acting far from the ideals of Marx, but this is what has given the country its international success. But when it comes large parts of the country’s population the development have been devastating. Wealth in China is increasing hand in hand with pollution.

05 Kina - 100 Yuan - Mao

The country has certainly made an interesting journey during this past century, but whenever change is happening too quickly the man featured on this 100 yuan banknote has always been mentioned as an ideal to strive back to. This is Mao Zedong (1893-1976) who lead the communist party during the civil war that followed the Second World War. The communists were victorious and the country would change down to its foundations. Mao is a well-known figure, both from his portrait at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and pieces of art by Warhol. In China many see him as a symbol for the old and better way that existed before the economical reformations. As with many communist leaders they often get a nostalgic aura surrounding them. Let’s not forget that Mao was responsible for the murders of millions of dissident, the starvation of millions during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the destruction of cultural treasures during the Culture Revolution (1966-1976).

Now we got three bankotes left…

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Communist banknotes: Part 3

 Jugoslavien - 5000 Dinara - Tito

In the southern Slavic country of Yugoslavia communism would take another turn with the man featured on this 5000 dinar banknote. This is Josip Broz Tito – a sergeant who during took part in the liberation of Belgrade in 1944 and was saluted as a hero. He would hold a leading position in this new country that had been created after World War I and he became president in 1953, a role which he kept until his death in 1980. Tito would approach communism differently than his allies in the USSR had done and accepted a form of market socialism in his country. This, among other things, would later lead to frosty relations between them. But even though the Yugoslavian population was freer than the soviets you cannot deny the fact that Tito was a dictator. Many people today would however argue that the countries of Yugoslavia were better off during Tito’s reign because of the unity between different peoples that was emphasized. A decade after the death of Tito the Yugoslav republics entered a horrible time of wars and ethnic genocides. There’s still tension in the area, but with two of them already under the umbrella which is the European Union, perhaps Yugoslavia will be unified once again.

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Communist banknotes: Part 2

So, yeah… Many months has passed. What happened? I don’t know. I didn’t have enough time. I lost interest. I forgot about the blog. But hey, let’s try again and we’ll see what happens!

Better start from where we left of and pretend like nothing’s happened!

CCCP 10 Rubel 1961

This 10 ruble banknote from the Soviet Union features the portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. It was he who led the Russian revolution of 1917 which ended the Russian Empire and started the USSR a couple of years later. Lenin was the first leader of a communistic country and the first one to put Marx’s theory in practice. Did he do it properly? That’s questionable. Following Lenin’s death in 1924 Josef Stalin claimed power and made sure the socialistic ideals wasn’t made reality with an authoritarian and oppressing rule. Lenin would however live on in iconography and rhetoric as one of the most famous symbols of the USSR and communism.

charkiv lenin

In many places of the old USSR you can still spot Lenin on public places. This is a statue in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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Communist banknotes: Part 1

Communism is both deeply hated and deeply loved by many. But whatever your thoughts are on the ideology it’s still easy to get fascinated by the phenomena. In its essence the ideology strives towards a utopic and equal society without classes and without private ownership.
It’s safe to say that communism is not strong today. It is an ideology of the 20th century during which many countries held it as the only possible way of life. However, no country succeeded in realizing the utopic society. Way to often these countries got stuck in the proletarian dictatorship with limitations in freedom of speech and terrible prosecutions ending in mass murder of opponents in countries like the USSR and China.
The enemy of communism is of course capitalism. This we saw during the long conflict that was the cold war which fueled wars all over the world.
Now, what would be a stronger symbol of capitalism if not money itself? There is something hypocritical with communist symbols and leaders on the very same thing that de ideology strives to counter. But the communism that was created in different countries during the 20th century is not unfamiliar to creating cults around certain figures. Some leaders got almost a religious status in these secular countries. The personality cult of the communistic countries works actually esthetically very well together with the classical design of banknotes. This fact makes them especially fun to collect.
In a couple of posts I’ll present some examples of these banknotes from my personal collection. You’ll get to read about them in an order of when the different persons were active. We’ll start it of where communism began.

DDR - 100 Mark - Marx

Above is a 100 mark banknote from East Germany (DDR) and it features Karl Marx, the philosopher and sociologist that could be considered the founder of modern socialist and communism. Below you have another banknote from DDR. This is a 50 mark banknote and it features Marx companion, Freidrich Engels. Together they laid the basis of the ideology with The Communist Manifesto which is their most famous manuscript and one of the world’s most influential ones. It’s no wonder that Marx and Engels were featured on DDR’s highest valued banknotes. DDR was a socialistic state and both of them were from Germany. The back of the 100 mark banknote features a couple of buildings in East Berlin. Among them you have the Palast der Republik (the parliament at that time), the Berlin TV tower and the red city hall. On the back of the 50 mark banknote you have an industrial complex portraying the importance of heavy industry for the state.

DDR - 50 Mark - Engels

These were my two first communist banknotes and there are six more to go!

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Sports and coins in 2012

2012 was a year with grand sporting events. The greatest of them all, the Olympics, took place in London giving us many memorable moments. The opening show was one of the best TV moments of the year. And then the legend (and my favorite vocalist of all time) Freddie Mercury was resurrected during the closing ceremony. It was amazing. Of course, the Olympics brought us some sport as well. There were Bolt, Phelps and Farah, and they all did their part. Earlier that summer Poland and Ukraine hosted the 2012 UEFA European Football (soccer for you across the pond) Championship. This was also a huge sporting event, especially for us Europeans. Spain would eventually be the winner just as they were in 2008.

It’s not uncommon for these types of events to make their way onto coins. During 2012 I managed to get 3 coins connected to these events. And here they are!

Ukraina UEFA2012

This Ukrainian 1 hrivnja coin was minted the same year as the championships making it extra special. It features the logo of the Euro 2012, a flower consisting of three bulbs – the one in the center is a football and the two on its sides represent Poland and Ukraine (in color: Red & White, Blue & Yellow). By the logo you can also find something very odd and unusual for coins – a trade mark.

UK OLYMPIC2012

UK OLYMPIC2012b

My two 50 pence coins from the United Kingdoms were both minted in 2011, but they’re commemorating the Olympics of 2012. They both feature the tiny logo of those Olympics and they represent one sport each. On the first one you have a man shooting a clay pigeon and the shattered pieces of it. On the other one (which is my favorite) you have the different stages of a basketball dunk. Stripes have been drawn across the coin’s surface and it’s also patterned to look like a basketball. I think that this is a very fun and unique coin!

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God Jul!

In Sweden Christmas Eve, this day, is the most important day of Christmas. So here is a greeting from snowy Uppsala, Sweden. Merry Christmas! God Jul!

fyrisån

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