Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Development of Early Paper Money in Malaysia

The earliest paper note printed and circulated in peninsular Malaya was by commercial banks. These commercial banks were mainly from Hong Kong and they opened up their branches in Singapore or Penang. Some of these commercial banks include Asiatic Banking Corporation, Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London & China, Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation and New Oriental Bank Corporation Limited. These commercial paper notes were issued as early as 1865. The denominations of these notes were in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and even 500 dollars. This series of commercial notes are extremely rare and many times we are only able to see these notes in Money Museum. The circulating life span of these commercial notes was very short. Many of them discontinued due to closure of banks and some of them were discontinued upon the request by the Strait Government which had officially issued its circulating notes in 1899.

$10 note issued by The Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London and China issued for use in Penang in 1886.


Besides notes issued by commercial banks, there were also banknotes issued by Sarawak Government Treasury between 1894 to 1929. Upon arrival of Sir James Brooke in Sarawak with its White Raja Dynasty of Sarawak, they had started their issuance of banknote with the portrait of Sir Charles Johnson Brooke and Sir Charles Vyner Brooke.



$1 note issued by The Government of Sarawak in 1919.

Following with the establishment of British North Borneo Company in 1882, the company also started their own currency. They issued note in the denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 dollars and most of these notes were signed and dated by hand at the time of issuance. As such, there were many versions or variety of notes found.

$10 note issued by the British North Borneo Company in 1927.

In 1826, the three Settlement of Penang, Malacca and Singapore were amalgamated to form the Straits Settlements. The capital city was first at Penang. It last until 1836 when it was transferred to Singapore. The Cocos-Keeling Island, the Christmas Islands and Labuan were then placed under the Straits Settlements. In 1867, the British Government took over the control of Straits Settlements which previously under the Government of British India and transferred to Imperial Government of London. The first series of coins bearing the inscription "Straits Settlements" were issued in 1871 and the first notes were issued on 31 August 1898. All the paper notes had the legend of "The Government of Straits Settlements promises to pay the bearer on demand at Singapore local currency for value received" and bore the Straits Settlements crest.

$10 note issued by The Government Of The Straits Settlements in 1911.

It was until 1933 in which the position of the Secretary of State for the Colonies was taken over by Sir Basil Blackett. He was requested to review the Malayan currency and through his finding he had recommended that the sole power of issuing currency for the area should be entrusted to a Pan-Malayan Currency Commission. Soon after that, his recommendation was adopted by the Malayan States and the Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya was established in 1938. The Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya first issued its banknotes in 1940. However, this series of banknote was not successfully issued due to shipment problem during the World War II. It was until 1941 and 1942, the Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya reissued the Malaya currency.

$1 note issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya in 1940.

In February 1942, the whole Malaya peninsular was occupied by the the Japanese following the fall of Singapore. Subsequently, the British Borneo also came under the Japanese. During the occupation of Japanese Government, the Japanese introduced new currencies as a replacement of those previously in use in the occupied territories of Malaya, North Borneo, Brunei and Singapore. The new currency in Malaya and Singapore were issued at the par value with the existing Malayan currency notes issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya. The Japanese occupation notes were introduced for circulation in 1942.



$10 Japanese Occupation Note issued by The Japanese Government during the occupation of Malaya in 1942.

After the World War II, the British Government returned to Malaya and North Borneo. The Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya and North Borneo was established. The board had issued the currency notes that circulated in Malaya, British North Borneo, Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei from 1952 to 1967. This series of notes bear the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and with the inscription of "Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya and British Borneo".

$1 note issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya and British Borneo in 1953.

5 comments:

plat1 said...

hi, i have 1 of that "use in penang 1886 notes", may i know how much it is worth now? condition- antique looks

plat1 said...

i have 1 of that use in penang 1886 10 dollar notes. may i know how much it is worth now?

Anonymous said...

This is a rare piece and perhaps professional dealers may give u an closer market estimate.

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