Ukrainian karbovanets

The karbovanets or karbovanet (Ukrainian: карбованець, romanized: karbovanets, plural: карбованці, karbovantsi for 2–4, or карбованців, karbovantsiv for 5 or more), also known as kupon (Ukrainian: купон, romanized: kupon, plural: купони, kupony) or coupon, has been a distinct unit of currency in Ukraine during three separate periods of the 20th century. It is also a predecessor currency of today's Ukrainian hryvnia.

Ukrainian karbovanets
український карбованець (in Ukrainian)
1 karbovanets1,000,000 karbovantsiv
ISO 4217
1/100kopiyka (копійка)
Pluralkarbovantsi (nom. pl.), karbovantsiv (gen. pl.)
kopiyka (копійка)kopiyky (nom. pl.), kopiyok (gen. pl.)
Banknotes1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000, 200 000, 500 000, 1 000 000 karbovantsiv
User(s) Ukrainian People's Republic (1st)
Ukrainian SSR
Reichskommissariat Ukraine (2nd)
 Ukraine (3rd)
Central bankNational Bank of Ukraine
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

In the ISO 4217 standard, the official name is spelled as karbovanet,[1][2] while English version of the National Bank of Ukraine's website refers to it as karbovanets.[3]


First karbovanets, 1917–1920

Bank-notes of the Ukrainian People's Republic

(17 March 1917 – 29 April 1918) In March 1917 in Kiev some political parties formed the Central Rada which proclaimed on November 20, 1917 the foundation of the Ukrainian People's Republic.

And by just December 19 of the same year, a temporary law about the issue of state banknotes by the UPR was adopted. According to this law: "Bank-notes must be issued in karbovanets" (Ukrainian: Карбованець). Each karbovanets contains 17.424 parts of pure gold and is divided into two hrivnas Ukrainian: Гривня or 200 shahs (Ukrainian: Шаг).

The etymology of the name "karbovanets" is debatable: by one supposition it originated in Ukraine from the ancient primitive way to carve (karbuvaty, Ukrainian: Карбувати) numbers of calculations on a rod, and by another supposition – from the carving (incision) on a rim of a metal rouble.

On January 5, 1918 the first Ukrainian bank-note with a value of 100 karbovanets was issued. There is an interesting detail: the trident depicted on the bank-note was proclaimed as a National Emblem of the UPR only on February 25, 1918. On all issued bank-notes was stated only one series – "AД" and only one number – 185. Combined with the use of ordinary paper (without water-marks) for printing of this bank-note, this led to the appearance of a great number of counterfeit bank-notes in circulation.

On September 20, 1918, the Central Rada proclaimed the issue of bank-notes of the State Treasure in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 karbovanets, to be valid until March 1, 1924. On April 6, the population of Kiev first saw 25-karbovanets bank-notes, and 50 karbovanets bank-notes later appeared, but 5- and 10-karbovanets bank-notes were not released. Primarily this series of bank-notes was issued without designation of series and number. In subsequent issues, the series indicated the place of printing: AK (Kiev) and AO (Odessa).

After occupation of Odessa by military units of Denikin's Army in spring, 1919, the printing house of Odessa continued printing bank-notes of 50 karbovanets. The Ukrainian Government was indignant and proclaimed money issued by the Denikinists to be false (series AO, numbers 210 and above).

In 1920, the Government of Ukraine printed some dozens of millions of bank-notes for temporary use of Revolutionary Committee in the Western Ukraine. This issue of series AO had numbers from 236 to 250.

The next release by the Central Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) was issued on April 19, 1918 and included denominations of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 shahs. The term "shah" is borrowed by the Central Rada from the ancient name of small coins (change) from as long ago as the 16th century. Shahs were printed in Kyiv in sheets of 100, perforated in order to simplify tearing off separate bank-notes. "Shahs" were in circulation until March 1919 when they were abolished by the Soviets. There are many existing bank-notes of this value.

Bank-notes of the Ukrainian State Government

(29 April 1918 – 14 November 1918)

The Congress of Free Hubb'andmen on April 29, 1918 (with the great support of Austrian-German occupants), elected tsarist general P.P.Skoropadsky as Hetman of Ukraine. He proclaimed the overthrow of the Central Rada Government and the foundation of the Ukrainian State.

In Skoropadsky's time, the so-called "paper hryvnias" were introduced in commerce. They were ordered by the Central Rada from Germany.

On August 5, 1918, the first bank-note which appeared in commerce was the 3.6% state-bond with the name "Bank-note of the State Treasure". State-bonds were printed with eight coupons, four coupons on each side. Primarily they were to be issued for the purpose of internal loans. But the general lack of circulating banknotes led to state-bonds and even separate coupons being used as paper money.

On October 17, 1918 Hetman's government received from Germany another supply of bank-notes with values of 2, 10, and 100 hryvnias, as ordered by the Central Rada. A bit later, bank-notes of 1000 and 2000 hrivnias were received. They were needed by Hetman's Government due to exaggerated inflation in Ukraine. They bore the abbreviation of the Ukrainian State(УД, Ukrainian: Українська Держава), an official name of Ukraine in Hetman's time.

These hryvnias were issued on October 17, 1918, 59 days before Hetman's overthrow.

Bank-notes of the Ukrainian Directorate

(14 November 1918 – June 1920)
The defeat of Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I resulted also in the break-up of Ukraine's occupation regime (Hetman Skoropadsky's government). On the night of November 14, 1918, in Bila Tserkva, the Government of the Ukrainian Directorate was formed with V. K. Vynnychenko, S. V. Petlyura and others at its head. Within a month, military forces of the Directorate occupied Kyiv. On January 16, 1919 the Government of the Directorate declared war on Soviet Russia. This action required issuing enormous sums of money.

In Kyiv, the Directorate used reserves of bank-notes which were issued previously by the Central Rada's governments.

The military campaign of the Directorate turned out to be unsuccessful, and the offensive of the Red Army forced the Directorate to leave Kyiv and to settle for some time in Vinnytsia (February 5, 1919). There the Directorate used 3.6% State bonds for their purchasing power. Under the pressure of Soviet forces, the Directorate retreated still farther to Ternopil, and then Stanislav (now Ivano-Frankivsk) by the end of February 1919. Beginning in March 1919, one of the most unsuccessful series of bank-notes (5 hryvnias) was issued. Compiled from different elements of earlier Ukrainian banknotes, 5-hryvnia bank-notes were hastily printed on grey paper and contained an error in their text: гривна instead of гривень. Some bank-notes with such misprints entered circulation. The next bastion for the embattled Directorate was Kamanets-Podilsk, where it held out for almost a year and issued a few more bank-notes.

First, in August 1919, banknotes were printed with the value of 100, 250, and 1000 karbovanets. For printing of these bank-notes, they used clichés (slugs of type) that had been prepared by the Hetman's government.

One of the best bank-notes among all Ukrainian paper-money is a bank-note of 1000 karbovanets. This bank-note was issued in Kyiv and entered circulation on November 13, 1918. Printing was continued by the Directorate government in October 1919 at Kamyanets'-Podilsk, and in 1920 at Warsaw. The last issue is unknown.

A bit later, lower denomination notes – 10 karbovanets (August 1919) and 25 karbovanets (October 1919) were put into use. The design of the 10 karbovanets (tank-note) was prepared in Hetman's period and their obverse had the large letters УД which designated the Ukrainian state (Ukrainian: Українська Держава).

The last bank-notes of the Directorate were prepared in Austria. The series contained bank-notes of 50 and 1000 hryvnias. But they were never issued (only some specimen copies are known). On November 20, 1920, the Directorial Government was disbanded by S.V. Petlyura's edict and its provision of currency ended.

Bank-notes of the Ukrainian SSR

At the beginning of 1919 in Kharkiv the pro-Soviet government was formed. It represented Soviet Russia in its war against the Ukrainian Directorate. By Lenin's direction Russia financed the pro-Soviet government. However, a period of unprecedented inflation was triggered by the Civil War and resulted in a sharp deficit of circulating money, especially petty bank-notes.

The People's Commissar of Finance of the USSR, with the mutual consent of the RSFSR government, decided to use the 10 karbovanets bank-notes of the Directorate. This note's cliché and artwork (without series and numbers) were captured by the Red Army on February 5, 1919. during the takeover of Kyiv from the Petlyurian troops. The Soviet bank-note differed from the Directorate's in paper, ink, water-marks, and the location of their series and numbers.

One more bank-note of 50 karbovanets with Soviet symbolics was printed. On June 1, 1919, the Ukraine united with the Soviet governments of Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Belarus in a common revolutionary front, and only one monetary unit was legitimized – the ruble of the USSR. The necessity of printing separate bank-notes was gone, and the 50-karbovanets bank-note is known only by some specimen copies.

Second karbovanets, 1942–1945

During the Nazi occupation of Ukraine in World War II, the German occupying government (Reichskommissariat Ukraine) issued banknotes denominated in karbovanets (karbowanez in German). The karbovanets replaced the Soviet ruble at par and was in circulation between 1942 and 1945. It was pegged to the Reichsmark at a rate of 10 karbovantsiv = 1 Reichsmark.

Third karbovanets, 1992–1996

In November 1990, with the collapse of the Soviet planned economy, the Ukrainian SSR introduced one-time coupons, which were distributed to Ukrainian residents. The coupons were needed in addition to rubles in order to buy groceries and living essentials. On January 10, 1992, the karbovanets replaced rubles at par, with the ISO 4217 code being UAK.

The karbovanets, which suffered from hyperinflation, was replaced by the hryvnia in 1996, at a rate of 100,000 karbovantsiv = 1 hryvnia. The hryvnia was introduced in 1996, a 15-day period was in effect from September, 2nd till September, 16th in 1996, during which both the karbovanets and hryvnia were in circulation. After that, the use of the karbovanets as a national currency was discontinued.


First karbovanets

In 1917, the Central Rada of the Ukrainian People's Republic introduced 100 karbovantsiv notes. These were followed in 1918 by State Treasury notes for 25 and 50 karbovantsiv. That year also saw the issue of postage stamp currency denominated in shah and various bonds, together with state credit notes in denominations of 2, 10, 100, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 hryven. The Directorate issued notes for 100, 250 and 100 karbovanets in 1918, followed by 10 and 25 karbovanets in 1919. State notes for 5, 50 and 1,000 hryven were issued in 1920.

1918 Series
ImageValueMain Colour
10 blue
25 yellow
50 blue
100 blue
250 blue
500 blue
1000 blue

Second karbovanets

Banknotes were introduced in June 1942 in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 karbovanets. The banknotes were in dark colour, carrying nearly all inscriptions in German, and a warning in both German and Ukrainian stating "falsification of banknotes is punished by imprisoning". The obverse of the notes all featured a portrait, including children, a peasant, a miner, a seaman and a chemist. The Nazi Reichsadler also appeared. The existence of a 2 Karbovanets-note is disputed as it never entered circulation.

1941–1944 Series
ImageValueMain Colour
1 brown
2 brown
5 brown
10 brown
20 brown
50 brown
100 brown
200 brown
500 brown

Third karbovanets

In 1991, notes were introduced in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 karbovanets (also called kupons[4] or coupons). All 1991 banknotes were of the same design, picturing Lybid from the monument of the founders of Kyiv on the obverse, and the Sophia Cathedral on reverse. The banknotes did not carry individual serial numbers or signatures. In 1992, banknotes for 100, 200, 500, 1,000 karbovanets were issued, which carried serial numbers and were better protected to counterfeiting.

First Series
ImageValueMain ColourDescriptionDate of
ObverseReverseObverseReversefirst printingissue
1 brown Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra 1991 1991
3 green Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
5 blue Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
10 pink Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
25 purple Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
50 green Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
100 brown Lybid Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

In 1993, banknotes for 2000 and 5000 karbovanets were issued. Having similar design as 1992 banknotes, they were the first to carry the Coat of arms of Ukraine. In the same year, notes for 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 karbovanets were also introduced into circulation, which were bigger in size and pictured the Volodymyr Monument on the obverse and the Kiev Opera on reverse. Subsequently, banknotes for 200,000 and 500,000 karbovanets were introduced in 1994, followed by 1,000,000 karbovanets banknote in 1995, which pictured Taras Shevchenko Monument in Kyiv.

Second Series
ImageValueMain ColourDescriptionDate of
ObverseReverseObverseReversefirst printingissue
100 orange Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Kyiv Pechersk Lavra 1992 1992
200 brown Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
500 blue Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
1,000 red Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
2,000 blue Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Kyiv Pechersk Lavra 1993 1993
5,000 red Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
10,000 green Volodymyrska Hill National Bank of Ukraine headquarters
20,000 purple Volodymyrska Hill National Bank of Ukraine headquarters
50,000 brown Volodymyrska Hill National Bank of Ukraine headquarters
100,000 grey Volodymyrska Hill National Bank of Ukraine headquarters 1994 1994
200,000 brown Volodymyrska Hill National Opera of Ukraine
500,000 blue Volodymyrska Hill National Opera of Ukraine
1,000,000 brown Taras Shevchenko Red University Building 1995 1995

See also

Preceded by:
Russian ruble
Reason: independence
Currency of Ukrainian People's Republic
December 19, 1917 March 1, 1918
Succeeded by:
Ukrainian hryvnia
Preceded by:
Ukrainian hryvnia
Reason: coup d'état
(on April 29, 1918)
Currency of Ukrainian State
April 1918 December 1918
Succeeded by:
Ukrainian hryvnia
Reason: coup d'état
(on December 14, 1918)
Ukrainian karbovanets
Preceded by:
Ukrainian hryvnia
Reason: Soviet occupation
(November 1920)
Currency of Ukrainian SSR
1920 1942
Succeeded by:
Second (Nazi) karbovanets
Reason: Nazi occupation
Preceded by:
Second (Nazi) karbovanets
Reason: Soviet occupation
Currency of Ukrainian SSR
1945 1992
Succeeded by:
Third Ukrainian karbovanets
Reason: Independence
(on August 24, 1991)
Second (Nazi) karbovanets
Preceded by:
Ukrainian karbovanets
Reason: Nazi occupation
Currency of Reichskommissariat Ukraine
1942 1945
Succeeded by:
Ukrainian karbovanets
Reason: Soviet occupation
Third karbovanets
Preceded by:
Ukrainian karbovanets
Reason: Independence
(on August 24, 1991)
Currency of Ukraine
1992 1996
Succeeded by:
Ukrainian hryvnia
Reason: inflation
(on September 2, 1996)

Ratio: 1 hryvnia = 100 000 karbovanets


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