Tag Archives: Polish banknotes

Fake zloty – an adventure in misunderstanding

About 9 months ago I had an encounter with some fake złoty that could have cost me . It had been a nice summers day, and I was walking home at about 8pm past a few local shops that had closed for the evening, not long after moving to Poland. Suddenly, I spotted an interesting looking piece of paper on the ground.  To my surprise and delight, it appeared to be a 100 złotych note. The street was deserted, so there was no-one nearby that I could ask, in case they had dropped it. And with the shops nearby being closed, it was the same story there. Believing that it was ‘safe’ to claim it, I placed it in my wallet and continued home. I was obviously happy with the find, but thought nothing more of it for a while.

A few days later, my wife and I went to a local dry-cleaners to have a jacket cleaned. When the time came to pay, I produced my ‘lucky’ 100 PLN note. The cashier looked at it for a second, and then her eyes closed at little with suspicion. She opened the cash till and took out another 100 złotych note in order to compare them. After about 5 seconds of analysis, she decided that she could not accept my note. She thought that it looked dodgy . My wife had some other cash available instead, and offered to pay quickly. The cashier was satisfied that was fine, and we proceeded to finish the transaction. But understandably, it left me feeling both confused and disappointed that my lucky find was not for real.

Cash TillMoney, Money, Money

Later I took  a real 100zl from the ATM in order to compare. The fake was the right size and shape. It was creased in parts, meaning that it had the look of wear-and-tear of a normal note. The print ‘quality’ of the images and text and numbers on the note were very good also. However, the key difference was in the colouring. The real 100 złotych note is pale green in colour. The shade of green on the counterfeit version was a deeper, darker green with a touch of blue also. This was much more noticeable when the two sat side by side. Also, when checked under light it was not possible to see the watermark on the counterfeit note. The watermark is the most difficult thing to copy on official money, showing us that our 100 złotych was indeed fake. It was a bit of a disappointment indeed. We did see the light side of things though and it is now taking pride of place in our kitchen, held in place by a fridge magnet.

However, a Polish friend visited a few days ago and he spotted the note.  I explained the story to him and he said that we were in fact very lucky. He informed us that the cashier would have been ‘correct’ to possibly call the police to have us arrested for using counterfeit money. It could have been taken quite seriously. 

So, I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it can just be ‘too good to be true’.

100zl_front

Can you spot the difference(s)?

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How to be a (Polish) Billionaire

US / UK quarrels about how much a billion actually is aside — there was a time when you could rather easily become a billionaire in Poland. A time when disregard for “drobne” was real. I mean, would you care about ‘small change’ when ‘small change’ could be a roll of notes to burn a socialist cigar with? (Of course, there were no cigars under socialism here. But there was Cuban music. Close, though no cigar. And I heard people saw Vietnamese cigs once, meant to repel jungle insects, not to pamper your smoker’s palate. But I digress.)

For nostalgic (to old local reader) and for educational (to our young expat reader) purposes, here goes a gallery of the banknotes of the times of plenty. See lifestories behind the faces! Reckon how many of these people were pure, genuine Poles. NONE!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…OUR MONEY!

10 ZŁOTYCH

0000010
Józef Bem

Born in Austria, a national hero in Poland and Hungary, a mathematician, burnt (not entirely) during artillery tests, wrote scientific stuff in German, a general, got Légion d’honneur from Napoleon, and Virtuti Militari for defence against Russians, adopted Islam and was a Turkish field marshal, died in Ottoman Syria.

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20 ZŁOTYCH

0000020
Romuald Traugutt

Born in Russia, served in the Russian army, a sapper, commanded an uprising against Russia, got married to a Lutheran (but converted for him to RCC), fought against Bem (10 above) in Hungary, remarried, degraded and hanged in Russia (Warsaw, specifically).

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50 ZŁOTYCH

0000050
Karol Świerczewski

From Warsaw working class, fought for the Bolsheviks in the revolutionary Russia. And fought against Ukrainians. Fought against Poles during the Polish-Soviet War. Fought against Franco forces in Spain. Shot POW’s and befriended Hemingway. Fought against Germans since 1941. Would give [fatal] orders drunk, a Stalinist MP in Poland, killed by Ukrainian fighters.

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100 ZŁOTYCH

0000100
Ludwik Waryński

Born in Ukraine, a Socialist activist, arrested by Austrians, migrated to Switzerland, returned to Warsaw (in Russia), founded a workers party, arrested by Russians, died in Schlisselburg prison, aged 33.

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200 ZŁOTYCH

0000200
Jarosław Dąbrowski

A noble born in Kiev Russia, awarded by Russians for fighting Chechens. Arrested by selfsame Russians for conspiring, he escaped from his Siberia-bound transport and got to France, where fought for the Paris Commune. Died and was interred in Paris. Mentioned in the Polish National Anthem he is not — another J. Dąbrowski is, being a British Queen(‘s peer), sort of.

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500 ZŁOTYCH

0000500
Tadeusz Kościuszko

A noble, born in Polesia. Got a scholarship in Paris, a military engineer. Fought against Britain, an American national hero. Insurrected against Russia in Poland, leading nobles and peasants alike, sorely defeated, Sworn allegiance to the Russian tzar, emigrated to USA, then to Paris, died in Switzerland. Did I mention he’s mentioned in the name of the highest peak Down Under?

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1000 ZŁOTYCH

0001000
Mikołaj Kopernik

Born in Torun (Prussia, Poland, either Pole or German), wrote in Latin. An astronomer, a mathematician, a translator, a general, a diplomat, a businessman, he stopped the Sun and moved the Earth. In 2006 his skull was DNA-tested and certified to be his. [Watch out for a Polish insider joke: he was a woman.]

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2000 ZŁOTYCH

0002000
Mieszko I

The first ruler of Poland, when there was no Poland yet. His other wife was German. He got (t)his country baptised and religious. Sweet, huh? You bet!….
Real McCoy

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5000 ZŁOTYCH

0005000
Fryderyk Chopin

You’d brand him a pop musician today, somewhere betwixt Rubik and Doda. He was so Polish that his name is spelled French way. Adored, quite weirdly, in Japan. As is Vader. (Which is much less weird.) His “green” banknote – unlike 50 zlotych – was first to mean anything like a dollar.

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10000 ZŁOTYCH

0010000
Stanisław Wyspiański

Montypythons unwound it eloquently: Say no more! Say no more!

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20000 ZŁOTYCH

0020000
Maria…?

….If you go on with “Skłodowska-Curie”, you are pro-Polish.
….If you choose “Curie-Sklodowska”, you are a bloody French lover. Or worse, a French person.

She and her spouse (or the other sex round) used to be on a 500 French Franc banknote. Say: who valued her more? Anyway, the lady discovered polonium and radon.

[Watch out for a Polish insider joke: she was a woman.]

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50000 ZŁOTYCH

0050000
Stanisław Staszic

A middle-class man, a philosopher, a geologist, a scientist, a sponsor to others, including this Jew. Set up a coal mine. A Catholic priest. Well, naturally? Said to dislike wearing his cassock so much he did not wear it. Wanted general education and teology separated. [Ain’t that a shocker? Hardly lived in any Poland though.]

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100000 ZLOTYCH

0100000
Stanisław Moniuszko

A noble, born in Russia (now Belarus), died in Russia (now Warsaw). His composer’s career set off in Berlin. Fathered Polish national opera. — It was, uh, blasphemised calculated there are 5 female names in Poland. The title of one Moniuszko’s highlit opera is Halka. “Halka” is a female name – and then it means “petticoat” in Polish (plus some scary things in some scary languages, possibly).

Below Jontek, a Highlander, Halka’s boyfriend, pines for his love. Halka dumped him for a landlordling, thus he pines. His first words: “The pines tremble on the mountain”. (Or “Roar firs”. Anyway, some trees near Zakopane. Anyone spots a bagpiper in second two below? Oh, and the voice comes from a Ukrainian.)

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200000 ZLOTYCH
0200000

The front side is PRL. (You won’t understand.) The reverse shows Warsaw. (I don’t understand.)

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500000 ZLOTYCH

0500000
Henryk Sienkiewicz

Born in tzarist Poland into a family of Tartar Lithuanians, died in Switzerland. The man who wanted to lift up Polish hearts, basically by means of heart-chilling stories about cruel non-Poles suffering defeats from not less cruel foes. One of his novels, Quo vadis, is about non-Poles suffering in Rome. A Nobel prize winner. Without him, Poland would be different, including some titles.

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1000000 ZLOTYCH

1000000
Władysław Reymont

Born on the much hated 7th day of May, just like Hume, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and, well, others.

He got a Nobel prize for a lengthy dialect-laden novel about peasants. Thomas Mann did not get the prize then. Some say there were few good candidates “during the 1920s”.

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2000000 ZLOTYCH

2000000
Ignacy Paderewski

Born in Russia (now Ukraine), died in New York, a composer and a triumphant piano virtuoso. His heart is interred in the USA. Married a baroness. Has haunted his own museum. They say he was a Sir of the British Empire. A skillful politician, in English, a prime minister, in Poland. Starred in a music drama, as pioneerly as 30 years prior to another music drama, “Yellow Submarine”.

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A 5000000 zloty note was designed, with the Moustached Marshall
5000000
but people had started miscounting zeros already, so the powers that mint gave the idea up. (So, the highest ranking officer here is the Soviet 3-star general, I suppose?)

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They don’t pay me for this.

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