Singapore International Coin Fair 2012

The Singapore International Coin Fair 2012 is held at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands Singapore, from 30 March 2012 to 1 April 2012. Several national mints have set up their booths there, including that of Singapore, Canada, Mexico, North Korea, Thailand and United Kingdom. Of course, a complete set of coins depicting the various sports for the London 2012 Olympics are also available.

A stamp set containing the Year of the Dragon stamps from both China and Singapore is given free to people who register as a member at the Singapore Gold Coins Investment Pte Ltd booth. Registration for the membership is free. Upon registration, one will receive the set of stamps placed in a nicely designed commemorative folder.

Banknote collector Vincent and I headed down to the coin fair this morning, which was not too crowded. One possible reason was that Mavin International holding their auction of world coins and banknotes on the same day, drawing some collectors over. I managed to obtain some banknotes to add to my collection, including the latest 2012 Malaysian banknotes folders.

In addition, we also got hold of the 2003 Vietnamese coin set, which is seldom seen in general circulation these days. The five coins include the denominations of VND 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000.

This year, over 60 dealers and exhibitors have set up booths at the fair. With a number of international dealers and exhibitors at the fair, the variety of coins and banknotes available are definitely higher than what you would find in local shops.

Also on display is the manual coin press machine by the Singapore Mint. This machine requires one to spin the handle with maximum force, leaving a two-sided impression on the metal planchet. This has to be done one coin at a time, and would usually take a few seconds in comparison with up to 800 coins per minute by automated machines today. One can choose to mint their own coin with a purchase from the nearby Singapore Mint retail booth. It is definitely a good experience to mint your own coin! One side of the coin contains the Merlion symbol and the words ‘The Singapore Mint’, while the other side contains an illustration of Marina Bay Sands. Following the fair, this coin press will be displayed at the Singapore Coins and Notes Museum (SCNM) located in Chinatown.

You may probably have seen the advertisement about the event in the local papers. If you have not seen it, entire newsprint pages containing the advertisements are pasted on the wall, near the entrance of the exhibition hall.

Pond Life Definitives 2012

On 12 March 2012, two new stamps featuring the yellow burhead (Limnocharis flava) and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) were released by Singapore Post. These two stamps are part of the Pond Life Definitives series.

Pond Life Definitives 2012

The yellow burhead featured on the 1st Local stamp has yellow cup-shaped flowers and grows up to nearly one metre above water. In several Southeast Asian countries, as well as India, the young leaves and stems are traditionally eaten as a vegetable. While its seeds are dispersed by water, water birds and animals, this plant is commonly used to feed pigs and fish.

Shown on the 2nd Local stamp is the water lettuce. It has light green leaves arranged like a lettuce and can grow up to 14 centimetres long. They float on the water surface with its long roots submerges in water, as the leaves have parallel veins, wavy margins and are covered in short hairs that form basket-like structures that trap pockets of air and increase its buoyancy. Rarely, one may see its small, white flowers.

Stamp Size: 30 mm x 27 mm
Perforation: 14 x 14
Printer: Joh Enschede Security Print
Designer: Eric Kong (Design Vizio)

Images by Singapore Post
Text adapted from Singapore Post

Printing Errors Create Unique and Desirable Banknotes

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.

Local Tea Time Snacks (2012)

On 8 February 2012, Singapore Post issued a set of stamps featuring local tea time snacks. Designed by Mr Sherman Lim, the stamps show a colourful illustration of the Lapis Sagu (1st local), Kueh Dadar (50 cents), Bao (80 cents) and Kueh Tutu ($1.10). These snacks are personified and drawn in a cartoonish manner. In Singapore, it is not uncommon to see people enjoying food outside the usual hours of lunch and dinner.

The Lapis Sagu, commonly known as the nine-layered kueh, is made from coconut milk, tapioca flour and boiled with pandan leaves. The rectangular shaped snack is found in a number of confectioneries, and it is definitely something unique to eat it layer by layer.

The Kueh Dadar is a bite-sized coconut pancake. Stir-fried grated coconut flesh and brown sugar are wrapped with a green skin that is made of sifted plain flour with pandan juice.

The Bao is a type of steamed Chinese bun with assorted fillings, including meat, vegetables or paste. There are also different sizes to choose from. Traditionally, it has been a common dish in most Chinese cultures, but now it can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

The Kueh Tutu is a traditional snack which is commonly found in Singapore. A soft outer layer made of rice flour or glutinous rice flour conceals either shredded coconut or ground nuts as its filling. It is often served on pandan leaves and is certainly available at night markets.

Stamp Size: 30 mm x 40 mm
Perforation: 13.33 x 13.33
Printer: Southern Colour Print
Designer: Sherman Lim

Images by Singapore Post
Text adapted from Singapore Post

Singapore $10 Note with One Diamond

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.

Year of the Dragon 2012

SingPost will be releasing the Dragon Zodiac stamp issue on 5 January 2012 to usher in the year of the Water Dragon. This is the fifth out of twelve issues in the Zodiac stamp series, which started with the Rat Zodiac stamp beck in 2008. The Dragon is the fifth animal in the zodiac cycle.

Designer Leo Teck Chong illustrated the three stamps for this issue, which comes in the denominations of 1st Local, 65 c and $1.10.

On the 1st Local stamp, a dragon is featured on a beige-gold background, together with the Chinese character ‘ji’. The 65 c stamp features the character ‘xiang’, with a dragon on a bright red background. Put together, ‘ji xiang’ means auspicious.

Similar to the previous issue in this series, two dragons are featured on the $1.10 stamp, together with the phrase ‘xiang long xian rui’.

In addition, a collector’s sheet ($16.80) containing a $5 and $10 stamp will be released. The $5 stamp shows a morphing effect from the outline of a Rabbit to that of a Dragon, while the $10 stamp changes from the outline of a Dragon to that of a Snake.

For banknote collectors, the new banknotes for Chinese New Year will be released as early as 3 January, at selected DBS and POSB branches. OCBC and UOB will be issuing these new notes later in the week or early next week.

Lastly, wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2012!

Images by SingPost

Post Early for the Lunar New Year (2012)

The Year of the Dragon is just a few weeks away. Just like every other year, there will be a slogan message printed on selected mail items.

From 3 January to 18 January, the slogan message “Lunar New Year – Please Post Early” will be marked on mail items which pass through FC Stamp Cancelling Machine C4. However, do note that there is a possibility where mail items are randomly sorted to other cancelling machines.

As delays in mail processing and delivery are expected during the festive season, do remember to send out your greeting cards in advance so that it will arrive in time for the Lunar New Year.

Do note that the Year of the Dragon Stamps will only be available from 5 January.

Images by SingPost

The 2011 Collection of Singapore Stamps

On 2 December 2011, Singapore Post released the 2011 annual collection of stamps featuring the various philatelic issues throughout the year in a colourful coffee-table book.

Featured stamps include Singapore’s longest individual stamp in a joint issue with Egypt, Singapore’s largest individual stamp, Spirit of Giving, and Eric Kong’s latest definitive issue coated with reflective ink, showcasing Pond Life. It also commemorates international events such as the World Orchid Conference 2011.

The book comes with two stock cards containing a total of 60 pieces of mint stamps and two miniature sheets.

Every purchase comes with a limited edition story book entitled Little Otters to the Rescue!. It features four little otters on a rescue mission to save their father. This A4-sized children’s book is written by SingPost’s Stamp Ambassador, Edmund Chen Zhi Cai. Earlier this year, he illustrated a set of stamps featuring the oriental small-clawed otter. An autograph session was held on 2 December at Singapore Post Centre.

From 2 to 31 December 2011, The 2011 Collection of Singapore Stamps is available at all post offices for S$66.90 (US$52). The usual price is S$72.90.

C12 and C13 Stamp Cancellation Datestamp

Two new stamp cancelling machines C12 and C13 will be used for the postmarking of mail items with effect from 12 December 2011. Singapore Post has indicated that these cancelling impressions are applied to ‘C5 envelopes with a minimum weight of 50 grams’. However, it is not known if these machines will be used on a daily basis or during the peak season.

On 8 June 2011, SingPost started using the C11 stamp cancelling machine.

C12 is a round datestamp which is rolled onto mail items as they pass through the machine. It is similar to machines C1 to C7, C9 and C11.

C13 is a dot matrix printer which cancels stamps with a double octogon outline. This is the same as two other stamp cancelling machines, C8 and C10. C8 is said to handle C6 envelopes during peak period.

This is the tenth year since SingPost started offering festive postage rates. The rates apply to greeting cards of any size, shape or colour, posted from 4 December to 25 December 2011. The local rate is 26 cents (up to 20 grams) and 32 cents (up to 40 grams), while the overseas rate is 55 cents (up to 40 grams). For Malaysia and Brunei, the weight is up to 50 grams.

Update 12 Dec 2011: 

Here is the first day cancellation for the C12 and C13 stamp cancelling machines.

Singapore $1000 Note with One Diamond

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)?