Comparing $10 Polymer Note: 2004 and 2008 Versions

Today’s article published in The Straits Times entitled ‘Take note: It’s not fake’ pointed out that the ‘lighter-coloured $10 bills are from (the) first polymer batch in 2004’. This was to clarify the existence of such notes with a lighter tone and to urge those in the sales sector to accept them as legal tender.

I have written the following in February 2008, a few weeks after the release of the new banknotes.

The new series of S$10 polymer notes were released in late January 2008, bearing the signature of the Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Goh Chok Tong. This was a move after the success of introducing the first batch of 10 million polymer notes to determine the suitability of using such notes in Singapore.

On 30th April 2004, the MAS announced the introduction of a new $10 Polymer Portrait Note on 4 May 2004. The new polymer notes have a design similar to the paper version, with some additional features unique to polymer technology. This is to preserve the public familiarity of the notes, as well as to minimise any alterations to note handling machines. The Portrait Series was launched on 9 September 1999 to welcome the new millennium.

The serial numbers for the first edition of the $10 polymer note had prefixes from 0AA to 9AA, then from 0AB to 2AB. The prefix 9AA was supposed to be the last of the series, but the error rate was so high that it went on all the way to 2AB. Banknotes that were misprinted were not replaced by a ‘replacement note’. Instead, this note is removed from the stack automatically by the machine, thus accounting for the jumps in serial numbers in uncirculated stacks of banknotes.

The first edition of the note, signed by the former Chairman of the MAS, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has the same dimensions as its paper counterpart. The 2004 edition is printed by Note Printing Australia (NPA), which has also printed the commemorative $20 note released in 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of the currency interchangeability agreement between Brunei Darussalam and Singapore.

A limited edition folder of 10,000 sets worldwide was issued with notes bearing the prefix ‘MAS’, with a limit of not more than two sets per customer. A special overprint commemorates this first note issue of the MAS.

To protect the interest of our currency, I have included some of the more notable differences between the 2004 polymer notes and 2008 polymer notes. Please note that the following are just my observations under close scrutiny, and was done back in February 2008. There are other minor differences which were found between the two batches of banknotes as well.

Serial number for illustration purposes only.

Perhaps, these variations, together with the mysterious symbols found on our banknotes, would spark some interest in note collecting.

Run for Hope Singapore 2010

This morning, I participated in Run for Hope Singapore 2010, which is a charity run in support of National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS). The 10-kilometre run was held at East Coast Park, Angsana Green near Carpark E2. As the flag-off timing was at 7:45 am, the second half of the route was rather hot.

Today’s route was rather congested as many started out slowly. As no official timing is given, my watch recorded a timing of 48 minutes 19 seconds. However, the estimated distance for the route was 9.2 kilometres. Nevertheless, this was certainly a meaningful run, since it is in support of cancer research.

Up next on my list would be the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2010, which would start from the popular shopping district Orchard. The 42-kilometre route passes through the Marina Bay area, Mountbatten Road and East Coast Park.

Map Illustration by Run for Hope Singapore

Festivals in Singapore

It’s Hari Raya Haji today, one of the festivals celebrated by the Malay population in the multiracial and multicultural island of Singapore. Definitely, festivals are something which should be featured on postage stamps, especially to foster good relationship among different cultures and races in Singapore.

On 20 October 2010, a set of eight stamps were issued by Singapore Post, including four 1st Local stamps and four 55 cents stamps. Designed by Tze Ngan, these stamps are also available as a collectors’ sheet with all stamps foiled.

From left to right, the first pair of stamps features the Chinese New Year, which is the most important traditional Chinese festival. This is characterised by the generous use of red and gold in the design, the two colours which are seen as most auspicious during the festive period. A pair of mandarin oranges is featured on the 55c stamp, which symbolises fortune in the year ahead.

The next pair of stamps depicts Christmas. Celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians on 25 December each year, it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. In Singapore, this festival is generally associated with the sharing of gifts. During the month of December, colourful assorted decorations fill up the various shopping districts around Singapore.

The third pair of stamps decked in different tints of green marks Hari Raya Aidilfitri. This day marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. On this day, the Muslims would wear their traditional costumes while visiting their relatives and friends. The 55c stamps shows the ketupat, a form of rice dumpling, which is commonly found in Southeast Asian countries.

The last two stamps illustrate the festival of Deepavali, commonly known as the Festival of Lights. In Singapore, this holiday is often celebrated by the Hindus and Sikhs, lighting several rows of clay lamps filled with oil, as shown on the 55c stamp. This is done to ward off evil and usher in the good. This day would also mark the start of a new financial year for most Indian businesses.

A Square on Your $5 Note

A new variety of the Singapore $5 banknote is finally spotted, with one square dot on its reverse. The small brown symbol is printed beneath the word ‘Garden City’ on the bottom left corner. These symbols have been introduced on polymer and paper notes since 2007, as a new security feature used by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to authenticate the notes.

Similar to the latest banknotes in general circulation, these polymer notes bear the signature of MAS Chairman SM Goh Chok Tong. Serial numbers for this variety are believed to start at 3AA. So far, I have sighted the following prefixes in circulation: 3AC, 3AD, 3AF, 3AH, 3AJ, 3AN. If you happen to see any other prefixes for this new variety, please leave a message in the comment box below or drop me an email.

Earlier today, a bank teller has informed me that she had seen a $1000 banknote with one triangle on its reverse, with its serial number starting with 2. If you happen to come across such a note, a scan of the note is greatly appreciated.

Your $10 Note Now Comes with a Triangle

The Singapore $10 banknote now comes in another variety, with one triangle on its reverse. These polymer notes bear the signature of Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The serial numbers for the one triangle variety begin with 3AA.

As described by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, ‘there may be other shapes, such as circles, stars or triangles’. So far, only the square, triangle and diamond shapes are observed in general circulation. Perhaps this would mean that it would take some time before another series of banknotes is launched. Nevertheless, these symbols certainly created a level of curiosity within collectors.

To date, only the $5 and $10000 denominations remain devoid of the mysterious symbols. The following table summarises the different varieties found for each denomination of Singapore’s banknotes.

The Portrait series of notes was introduced back in 1999. Three different signature varieties have been featured on this series over the past eleven years. They include BCCS Chairman Richard Hu from September 1999, MAS Chairman PM Lee Hsien Loong from May 2004 and MAS Chairman SM Goh Chok Tong from January 2008.