Tan Wei Jie

weijie (at) tanwj.com

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O-Level/A-Level Private Tuition for Mathematics and Physics

A Singapore-Based Electronic Guidebook for Mathematics

Photography in Singapore by Tan Wei Jie

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  • 10Jul

    Singapore’s $50 banknote now carries the one triangle symbol on the reverse (below the word Arts). The signature on the new paper money has also been updated to that of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. This is the first denomination of banknotes to reflect his appointment as the new Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

    The first prefix for this variety is 4AA. Currently, other prefixes including 4AC, 4AD, 4AE, 4AF, 4AG, 4AJ, 4AL and 4AQ, 4AT and 4AU have been observed in circulation.

    Update (12 July): Prefixes 4AH, 4AM, 4AR were spotted.

    Update (14 July): Prefix 4AP was spotted.

    Update (20 July): Prefixes 4AK, 4AS were spotted.

    Update (25 July): Prefixes 4AA, 4AB were spotted; unseen prefix 4AN.

    Update (10 August): Prefix 4AV was spotted.

    The MAS $50 banknote has three different signatures to date, including that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (released in August 2004, 2AA) and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong (released in November 2009, 3AA). Both used to hold the position of Chairman MAS. Before the MAS issue, the Board of Commissioners of Currency Singapore (BCCS) has issued banknotes signed by Richard Hu (released in September 1999, 0AA; reprinted in 2011, 1AA to 1HF and 1JJ) and Lee Hsien Loong (released in 2002, 1HL to 1HZ and 1KA to 1KN).

    MAS started issuing banknotes with symbols printed on the reverse since 2008 as an added security feature for their internal authentication. It has been understood that these symbols are used to indicate the print batch number for that particular denomination, and two of the future symbols will include the circle and star.

    It is observed that two denominations printed during the same period may not have the same symbol. For example, the one triangle symbol is used on the $50 note (printed some time between 21 May 2011 and early July 2012) while the $10 banknote with one triangle was released in November 2010. The $2 note with one triangle was first spotted in circulation in February 2011.

  • 27Apr

    Bank Negara Malaysia has announced that the new Malaysian banknotes series will be introduced into circulation from 16 July 2012, replacing the current series that has been in circulation for over ten years. Themed ‘Distinctively Malaysia’, the banknotes feature intricate illustrations of the nation’s culture and traditions. In this series, the RM 2 banknote was no longer issued, while a new RM 20 banknote was included in the line-up.

    The fourth series of Malaysian banknotes consists of six denominations, including RM 1 (Traditional Pastimes: Wau Bulan), RM 5 (Wildlife: Rhinoceros Hornbill), RM 10 (Flora: Rafflesia Azlanii), RM 20 (Marine Life: Hawksbill, Leatherback Turtle), RM 50 (Agriculture and Technology: Oil Palm, Biotechnology) and RM 100 (Natural Wonders: Mount Kinabalu, Gunung Api Valley).

    The obverses of the banknotes retain the portrait of the first Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Tuanku Muhammad. In addition, other common motifs on the banknotes include Malaysia’s national flower (Rosa-sinensis hibiscus) and patterns of traditional songket weaving in the background.

    The smaller denominations of banknotes (RM 1, RM 5) are more commonly used in day-to-day transactions and printed on polymer to increase their level of durability. The larger denominations remain printed on paper.

    Incorporating modern printing technology and security features, the fourth series of Malaysian banknotes contains a pixel watermark portrait with highlight numeral, as well as the use of micro lens thread and iridescent patch. Existing security features which are retained in the fourth series include perfect registration, multicolour latent image, intaglio printing, microprinting, colour shifting security thread, holographic stripes and UV elements.

    Bank Negara Malaysia has also released a commemorative folder containing the fourth series of Malaysian banknotes on 22 December 2011. The complete set, limited to 50,000 sets and priced at RM 300, consists of six banknotes of the same serial number. Currently, low serial numbers – AA0001500 and below – have not been observed, except for AA0000001 which is used throughout BNM’s website. Two smaller folders, one containing the RM 20 banknote (sold for RM 30) and another containing the RM 1 and RM 5 banknotes (sold for RM 15) were also available, with a more generous supply of 500,000 sets.

    If you have been to Malaysia in the past few years, you would have already noticed the new RM 50 note in circulation. This banknote was first introduced in December 2007 to commemorate Malaysia’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. The first 50 million pieces (AA0000001 to AE9999999) of the note is overprinted with the logo of the 50th Anniversary of Independence on the reverse, including 20,000 sets sold in a limited edition folder. A number of these overprinted notes continue to exist in circulation alongside those which does not contain the overprint (AF0000001 onwards). The new RM 50 banknotes released in December 2011 have 3-letter prefixes (AAA0000001 to AAA0050000).

    Image: Bank Negara Malaysia Website

  • 26Feb

    This is a guest post by Imogen Reed from London, UK. 

    Collecting banknotes is a multi-faceted hobby. Not only are banknotes aesthetically attractive, rich in history, and in a world of  balance transfer offers, internet transactions and debit and credit cards, banknotes are becoming a rarity in modern life. Some argue their days are numbered, but there’s no need for the modern notaphilist to worry. With such a rich history and a wide variety of notes from around the world still in existence, there will always be enough banknotes to sate the modern collector.

    The great thing about banknote collecting is the richness and variety of the different banknotes around the world, and the surprises that collecting banknotes can throw up. Most people think banknotes are just printed paper, but they couldn’t be more wrong. There’s so much more that goes into a banknote than just paper and ink, and there are so many different ways banknotes are produced. And it is these different production techniques that can generate some unique banknotes – banknotes with errors.

    Banknotes with an error on them are even more desirable to many collectors, and often more valuable too. While banknote producers have very strict quality controls that look for any mistakes, normal human error can lead to a few slipping pass the beady eyes of the inspectors. A banknote with some form of error on it can be a highly prized collector’s item, and even a modern note printed with a minor error will be worth far more than its face value, so it’s worth checking even mundane notes for potential signs of a mistake.

    Printing

    Errors normally occur during the printing process. Banknotes are printed in various ways, and these different methods can throw up different types of errors. Early banknotes were printed using rather crude wooden rollers. These were blocks of wood with parts cut away to produce the image. Because wood is soft and easily splinters, it is common on early banknotes to see missing parts of an image. While few of these early type banknotes exist, and regardless of errors, are highly prized, if you do come across an early wooden rolled note, look at it carefully as it may be more unique than you may think.

    Image Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

    Lithography was the next big step in banknote production. Lithography is the use of chemical to repel oil and water. Banknotes printed using these methods were created by plates covered by an ink repellent liquid. The printer applies the ink with a roller but the liquid on the plates repels it. The most common error caused by lithography is when the printer has failed to line up the roller and plates properly. Sometimes, banknotes produced by lithography have images that slightly leak over the side of the note or are not straight on the paper.

    Intaglio engraving is still widely used today. The notes are produced by plates with designs engraved on them. Ink is poured over the plates and then wiped off, leaving ink just in the engraved areas. This often creates a more three-dimensional, embossed appearance and feel to the note and an indented reverse side. Errors are less common in engraved banknotes because the process is more refined. However, the serial numbers often have errors in them, as the numbers have to be changed between the printing of each note. As most banknotes normally have serial numbers on both the front and back, it is not uncommon to find one either missing or not matching.

    Security Features

    Besides serial numbers, errors can be found in the various other security methods employed on different banknotes. Watermarked paper is the most common security feature besides serial numbers used in banknote production, past and present. A watermark is the adding of a design on the paper, which is only visible when the banknote is held up to the light. As these designs are added after the initial printing process, a potential error is seeing a reverse or upside down watermark. These become highly desirable to collectors and are a great find if you can spot one. Of course, you do need to know the correct way the image should be originally.

    The security strip is also another common security feature inserted into banknotes. This is normally inserted when the paper is being produced and cut, and it can go missing in certain cases. It is, however, possible for unscrupulous banknote dealers to remove security strips, but threaded strips can’t be removed and if these are missing the note can be quite a collector’s item. Of course, you need to make sure any banknote without a security strip is not a forgery, which is often the case.

  • 22Jan

    A new variety of Singapore’s 10-dollar note was released in January 2012, carrying the symbol of one diamond on the reverse (above the word Sports). The first prefix for this variety is likely to be 4BA. For previous varieties of the $10 polymer banknotes, the first observed prefixes were 2BA and 3BA respectively. This is due to the fact that 2AA and 3AA were one of the prefixes used in the 2004 version.

    The notes were available at some branches, while other branches carried the previous $10 note variety with two triangles. A few weeks ago, the $1000 note with one diamond was found in circulation.

    Symbols printed on the reverse of the notes were introduced back in 2008 as a new security feature used for authentication purposes by MAS. Despite the lack of information, a different symbol was used for each batch of notes. Based on the observations from the serial number, the symbols may either represent the print run number or the year of printing. It is also understood that there may be other symbols used, including circles and stars.

    Most denominations showed the same pattern in the sequence of symbols. The earliest batches of such notes contained no symbol. From 2008, banknotes were first imprinted with one square, followed by two squares, one triangle, two triangles and one diamond.

    This variety still carries the signature of then Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong. On 21 May 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was appointed the new Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

  • 04Dec

    Singapore $1000 banknotes with the 3AA prefix has been found in circulation, carrying the one diamond symbol on the reverse (above the word Government).

    It carries the signature of Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, the previous Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, suggesting that the banknotes were printed before 21 May 2011. Future banknotes will be issued with the signature of MAS Chairman Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

    The colour is more vivid on the 3AA series, as printing technology continues to improve. Such colour improvements were also observed on the latest $100 notes. On the reverse, different tints are used for the space below the arches. We compare it with an earlier variety of the $1000 note with two triangles (right).

    Now, does the $1000 1AA series exist? If it does, is the symbol is a square dot (based on the pattern for other denominations)?