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Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia was chosen to be the name given to that area which had previously been called the S.H.S Kingdom. (The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians)
This Kingdom had been proclaimed on the First of December 1918 amidst the final resolution of World War I. It was one of several areas to escape previous shackles imposed by the erstwhile European Powers and this hastily-constructed alliance was duly ratified by the Treaties of Neuilly, Saint Germain and Trianon. As the dream of a single state for southern Slavs had been around since about 1693, many would have been joyful to escape the “foreign yoke” at last.

The ‘trigger’ of the first World War was an assassination in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. The victims were the nephew of the Hapsburgh Austrian Emperor; the nephew was called Franz Ferdinand who was the Emperor’s immediate heir, and his ‘love-match’ wife Sophia who hailed from only a noble Bohemian family, rather than a High European, like the Romanovs, say. It was such a disappointing love-match in the Hapsburghs’ eyes that any prospective ‘issue’ was banned from the succession. So if the Emperor’s only son had not died unexpectedly, this unfortunate pair (Franz Ferdinand and his wife) might have lived to a ripe old age; fate can be unkind, at times.

The plot was laid by young Bosnian hotheads, who failed to foresee the repercussions to their own cause of rejoining with Moslem Turkey, let alone on Europe as a whole. It was carried out on the old and woolly principle, “well, we must DO something!” rather than a carefully-worked strategy and the perpetrators failed to forsee the consequences of their action. Clearly, the authorities’ insight was equally blurred, because this was the second attempt on the same day. One would find it hard to imagine today, that if Prince Charles had just suffered such an attempt on his life, our police and secret service would sanction his driving around in an open car without any escort, thus risking a second assassination attempt.

The Austrians were incandescent with rage and required revenge, retribution and much more. But now matters became very complicated; there existed a lethal mix of solemn promises between the Great Powers; they were like ‘I.O.U’s handed out in the presumption that it could never happen.’

Well, it just had! This time everyone in Europe were dragged into those horrors of trench warfare of the First World War , which had been ‘honed’ in the U. S. Civil War and now was to be re-enacted on the European stage.

We must pass over this War, for reasons of space, and view the infancy of the predecessor of Yugoslavia. In 1921, the new S.H.S. Constitution was accepted; there were the usual low mumblings from those who felt their own interests were not comprehensively protected to the level that they felt was the minimum desired. However, those who carped at the original deal were to discover that this Constitution survived but eight short years.

It was then suspended by the Serbian King, Alexander I, in 1929, and just three years later the country was renamed the Kingdom of ‘Yugoslavia’. This meant “Land of the southern Slavs” so it was logical and clear to almost everybody but the Bosnian Serbs who, as Moslems, still hungered for reunion with Turkey.

During this period a young misfit called Josip Broz, who had fought bravely in the War until captured on the Russian front, was repatriated to Croatia in 1920, whilst it was still part of the S.H.S. Kingdom. Back in Croatia, he joined the (illegal) Communist Party (Cominform) and was arrested numerous times, for his complicity in Party activities. Eventually the authorities offered him longer term facilities in gaol with a modest five year sentence for conspiracy against the Government, who themselves were busy creating “Yugoslavia” so had little time to waste on misfits, and little patience.

In 1934, Broz was released and by 1940 rose to the lofty position of Secretary-General of the Communist Party. He subsequently changed his name to Tito.

The very same year, King Alexander was assassinated and Paul became Regent as King Peter was still but a child.

The parallel rise of an Austrian who chose the name of Adolph Hitler, brought about the Second World for Europe. It is clear that another world war, so quickly, was bad news for any unready, young nation, situated in such a central geographical position. In early 1941 the Yugoslav Government were given five days to sign a pact which included German use of the port of Salonika.

By March 25th, Prince Paul, the Yugoslav Regent, agreed the deal, hoping to buy time. But the Serbs had no plans to let their young nation lose its independence so easily and abducted Prince Paul. The Fuehrer was angered to find they had taken Prince Paul from the Palace and so he summarily exiled him.

Young King Peter was placed on the throne with the words “Better to fight than submit; better the grave than a slave” (or words to that effect; my Serbian is nigh non-existent; sorry!)

Adolph was enraged! He ordered General Halder to attack Yugoslavia with fury and pitiless harshness on the 6th of April, 1941 which was Palm Sunday, a most important holy day for Orthodox Serbs, who would be at Church. The tiny Serb air force was destroyed on the ground and over seventeen thousand citizens were killed, with central Belgrade totally shattered. Within twelve days Yugoslav was taken.

In July 1941, Hitler renewed his attentions to the iniquitous Yugoslavians. He had hated the Serbs in the First World War and Yugoslavia had come into being under the terms of the “iniquitous” Treaty of Versailles”. Stern action must be taken.

Belgrade was to be bombed night and day. The German military machine duly obliged. Hitler then had the hapless young country dismembered. Croatia was split off whilst Slovenia was split in two, half to Germany and half to Italy; Italy had some of the Dalmatian coast and islands, Montenegro, a chunk of Kosovo and a slice of Macedonia.

Bulgaria was give the remainder of Macedonia and big areas of southern Serbia and even Hungary was given a few scraps for its help and to encourage loyalty. All this was done in Hitler’s attempt to kill off ‘Yugoslavia’. Despite this emotional hatred, Hitler had still made sure that Germany’s portion included the areas which were rich in bauxite, coal, copper, chromium and, vitally, the Danube route to the Rumanian oilfields.

Meanwhile, Tito’s first problem was to liquidate the ‘Ustase’, fascist Croatian separatists who saw their chance to escape the clutches of Yugoslavia and so supported German rule. When Germany turned its attention onto the invasion of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, Tito called for an uprising and quite quickly, half of the country was back in the hands of the Resistance. The Government in exile was not pleased. Germany was not pleased; even the Soviet Union was not pleased as these self-styled Serbian communists were not “properly controlled”.

The Allies did give Tito military assistance in 1944 (for the greater good!) but this did not deter him from forming revolutionary councils left and centre. By the time the War was over, Yugoslavia was in ruins and a tenth of the population were dead, the majority of which were male.

Tito modelled his new constitution on the Russian equivalent but with subtle differences which were not subtle enough for the Russians who could only view ‘tiny’ Yugoslavia as a satellite. Tito broke with his masters in Moscow in 1948 and, much later, condemned their invasion of Czechoslovakia. A 1974 constitution proposed a collective presidency but it was never seemed to be a good time to implement whilst Tito was still alive. He died in 1980 but his 1974 constitution gave a freer atmosphere. In the early nineteen nineties, a brief glimpse of the freer society blossomed; then, all the different ethnic groups used the chance to start a civil war. The intractable differences between the groups made a strong union impossible! The dreams of the Slavs of the late seventeenth century were no more. Yugoslavia disintegrated back into its ethnic parts.

The Banknotes

The first provisional issues in 1919 were overprinted Austrian banknotes. The overprint was a round black handstamp featuring an eagle and an inscription. With the second provisional issues some of the notes had the previous overprints so various adhesive postage stamps were also affixed to the notes. The denominations were 10, 20, 50, 100 & 1,000 kronen respectively.

Also, in 1919 the Dinar issue featured 1/2 dinar, 1 dinar, 5 dinara & ¼ dinar. These were later overprinted in kronen currency. The kronen currency consists of the following: 2 kronen on ½ dinar, 4 kronen on 1 dinar, 20 kronen on 5 dinara, 40 kronen n 10 dinara, 80 kronen on 20 dinara, 400 kronen in 100 dinara, 4000 kronen on 1000 dinara. The notes feature a helmeted man, fruit in baskets, a Blacksmith, farmers with Oxen, children and, on the 4000 kronen, some allegorical figures.
The higher denominations tend to be scarcer and therefore command a higher market value.

In 1920, the National Bank, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes issued a 10 dinara note with “Progress” (a man with a wheel) on the face. This was printed by ABNC (American Banknote Society).
Then came the beautiful 100 dinara which features boats, a woman with a sword, a man with fruit and a watermark of Karageorge.
Next was the 1,000 dinara which featured George slaying the dragon at the left. On the reverse it depicted farm scenes. The issued note is very rare indeed. For this reason a lot of counterfeit notes are seen and one has to be very careful when purchasing from this series.

Another 1,000 dinara was issued and is also extremely rare. This was like the previous note but has a blue overprint of Karageorge and an inscription for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia on the centre of the note. Again, deceptive counterfeits exist of this note.

In 1926 the French printed 10 dinara was issued which featured a woman at the right of the note and as the watermark.

In 1929 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia National Bank series ran 10,100 & 100 dinara. The latter two notes carried different watermarks. The first was of Karageorge, a long-dead, early ill-educated “peoples’ patriot” and the second watermark was of King Alexander.

From 1931 to 1939 the issues were as follows:
A 50 dinara featuring King Alexander with a grand equestrian statue on the reverse. Although the note was dated in 1931 it was issued in 1941 for Serbia only.
The 1,000 dinara features Queen Marie with a bird in flight on the face. On the reverse there are two standing women. Once again, the beautiful artwork cannot be missed.
The 20 dinara 1936 features King Peter II on the face. Again this was dated 1936 but issued in 1941 for Serbia only.
The 100 dinara dated 1934 was never actually issued. It featured a Serbian Woman with a boy with a sword.
In 1935 the 500 dinara was issued with King Peter II at the left. On the reverse there are women with sheaves of wheat.
Another note that was never issued was the 1,000 dinara dated 1935. The artwork depicted war, peace & education.
The 10,000 dinara dated 1936 featuring King Peter II was never issued. The catalogue value suggests $1000 US dollars although I suspect that this would be hard to obtain for that price.
The 10 dinara dated 1939 featuring King Peter II and a bridge was issued. There is a woman in national costume on the reverse.

In 1943 the Kingdom was in exile during WWII. The issues from 1943 are rare and feature King Peter II again. They were not issued and the denominations were 5, 10, 25, 100, 500, 1000 dinara.

The Notes of the Democratic Federation of Yugoslavia in 1944 were interim low cost notes at the end of the War. 1,5,10,20,50,100, 500 & 1000 dinara with minor paper and thread/ no thread varieties. They feature a soldier with a rifle.


The Notes of the Federated Republic of Yugoslavia, National Bank, were issued in 1946. The denominations were 50, 100, 500, 1,000, featuring skilled working men, fisherman & farmers. They had the usual type of variety of watermarks and security threads.

The notes of the 1949-51 Issue are much scarcer and possibly a specialist’s collecting series. The denominations were 1,2,5,10, 20, 50,100 ,1,000,5,000 dinara and they feature Partisan fighters, women, farm workers, steel workers and a cargo ship. They were not issued. Deep pockets are needed for this series!

In 1953 there was just one issue of the 100 dinara which featured four workers at steam locomotive wheels and farmers harvesting wheat on the reverse.

In 1955 issued were 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000 dinara. The latter two notes were issued with and without the plate number. They feature Women, Farmers & a Steel worker.

The Notes of the 1963 Issue were 100, 500 dinara. 1000 & 5,000 dinara (with and without plate number) The 5,000 dinara is also known with missing serial number and this note commands a premium price as it is rarely seen.

There are also various occupation issues which due to a lack of space I will omit from this piece.

The Notes of the 1965 Issue were 5, 10, 50, 100 dinara with serial & thread variations, one featuring the Equestrian statue “Peace” of Augustincic in the garden of the United Nations, New York.
The Notes of the 1968-70 Issue were 5, 10, 50, 500 dinara with serial & thread variations. The 500 dinara features a statue of Tesla seated with an open book.


1974 had just two issues which was the 20 dinara featuring a ship dockside and the 1,000 dinara with a woman and fruit.

The Notes of the 1978 were 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, & 1,000 dinara. They were like the 1968-70 previous issues but had variations of signatures and dates.


The Notes of the 1985-89 were very different and much more modern looking with large portraits at the left.
The 5000 dinara had 2 issues due to Tito’s death date being incorrect. This note feautures Tito at the left.
The 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 500,000, 1,000,000, 2,000,000 dinara feature a Miner, Girl, Partisan Monument, the City of Dubrovnik, and a Woman.


With the Notes of the 1990 1st Issue came a revaluation and the issues were: 50, 100, 200 dinara. The 100 dinara features Tito and the Partisan monument on the reverse. This note was never issued and commands a higher market value.

The Notes of the 1990 Second Issue were the 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 dinara
A 500 dinara was printed with the wrong ink but not issued. Children’s faces feature on the face of these notes until the 1,000 dinara where Tesla is featured.

The Notes of the 1991 1st Issue were 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 & 5,000 dinara and follow on with the Children’s faces

In 1992 similar notes were issued with the addition of National Bank monogram arms at the centre. Denominations added were the 10,000 & 50,000 dinara.

The Notes of the 1993 Issue were 100,000, 500,000, 1,000,000, 10,000,000 50,000,000 , 100,000,000, 500,000,000 , 1000,000,000, 10,000,000,000 dinara. A lot of the face artwork was taken from the previous series.

The Notes of the 1993 Reform Issue were 5000 , 10,000, 50,000, 500,000, 5,000,000, 50,000,000 500,000,000, 5000,000,000 , 50,000,000,000, 500,000,000,000 dinara. These featured: Stefanovic Karadzic, Petar II Petrovic Niegos Prince-Bishop of Montenegro, Dositej Obradovic, Karadjordj Petrovivh (Prince of Serbia), Michajlo Pupin, Jovan Cvijich, Jaksich, Serbian Prince Milan Obrenovich & Poet Smaj. The Specimen notes all have a red overprint.

The Notes of the 1994 Issue were 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5,000, 50,000 & 500,000 dinara. There are serial number variations and all of them were issued with the exception of 100,000 dinara which featured Michael Pupin. Again some of the people featured were on the 1993 reform issues mentioned above.

In 1994 there was one provisional issue which was 10,000,000 dinara with 1994 red overprint on the face and back & a new silver overprint.

The Notes of the 1994 Reform Issues were 1, 5 & 10 Novih dinara. These were withdrawn from circulation on 1st January 1995.

Also in 1994 there were 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 Novih dinara which use similar artwork to the 1993 issues. The watermark is a symmetrical design repeated.

Finally, the 2000-2 Issues were 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 & 5,000 dinara. The watermarks are largely of the portrait pictures: Karadzic, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, Stojanovic, Nikola Tesla, Petrovic. The 1,000 dinara features Dorde Vajfert on the face and reverse along with the Central Bank interior. The 5,000 dinara features Slobodan Jovanovic on the face and details of the federal parliament on the reverse. This 5,000 dinara is considered the rarest of this particular series.

Last updated 21/08/2008

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