2nd Batch of Singapore Bicentennial $20 Note

Application for the second batch of $20 Singapore Bicentennial commemorative banknote is open from 16 September to 13 October 2019.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will be making another 2 million pieces of Singapore Bicentennial $20 notes available. Exchange can be made from early November 2019 onwards.

This additional batch of 2 million banknotes is printed to meet the popular demand during the original release on 10 June 2019. Back then, stocks at banks were depleted quickly within two to three days of issue.

This time, Singapore citizens and permanent residents can apply for up to 10 pieces of commemorative notes using their identification number and mobile number. Application can be made through an online portal launched by MAS which runs for four weeks until 13 October 2019.

The results of the application will be made by 3 November. Exchange can be made at the preferred bank branch that was selected during online application during a two-week period.

If there are any notes left over at the end of the exchange period, members of the public can exchange these notes without the need for any online application.

Allocation priority will be given to applicants who belong to the Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation – those born on or before 31 December 1959. But if demand is too high, MAS would be adjusting the number of notes allocated to individuals accordingly.

Applicants who have been successfully allocated the commemorative notes can get another person to exchange the notes on their behalf by providing a copy of their NRIC or birth certificate.

Prefixes and Serial Numbers

For the first batch of $20 Singapore Bicentennial notes, there are four circulation prefixes: AB, AC, AD and AE. Serial numbers as high as 83xxxx have been observed.

With up to 840,000 serial numbers for each of the four prefixes (or 3.36 million in total) there may be new prefixes observed for the second batch of Singapore Bicentennial notes. Similar to recent polymer banknote issues, serial numbers may be skipped during production, and there are no replacement serial numbers.

For the 3-in-1 uncut sheets, banknotes have serial numbers ranging from AA 801xxx to 832xxx. Larger uncut sheets of up to 32 may be made available in a future auction.

Symbol on Reverse?

Another interesting feature to note is whether there will be a symbol found on the reverse of the commemorative banknote to indicate the second batch of printing.

Since 2009, MAS has been printing a small symbol at the back of the note, including the $1000 note which features the national anthem on its reverse.

The only circulation banknote from the Portrait Series which does not have the symbol is the discontinued $10000 note. Since the original issue on 9 September 1999, there was no subsequent reprint for the $10000 banknote.

For the SG50 commemorative notes issued in 2015, three different symbols were observed: one diamond and two diamonds for the $10 notes, and one star for the $50 note.

The $10 notes with two diamonds on the reverse have been printed on auctioned notes with special serial numbers, as well as a limited number of circulation notes for 3 of the 5 designs.

There was no symbol printed on the 2017 issue which commemorated 40 years of Currency Interchangeability Agreement (CIA40) between Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

Online Application for Singapore Bicentennial $20 Notes

Application can be made through the MAS online portal at http://go.gov.sg/mas.

Singpex 2019 and 100 Years of Airmail in Singapore

Singpex 2019 will be held from 31 July to 4 August 2019 at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre Halls 401 and 402. Also known as the 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition, this year’s event has a strong significance as Singapore commemorates two important historical milestones. 

In 2019, Singapore celebrates 200 years since the landing of Sir Stamford Raffles on 29 January 1819. In terms of postal history, this year also marks 100 years since the first airmail in Singapore. One century ago, the first aerial mail was flown from London to Darwin, with Singapore as one of its stops along the 11000-mile journey. 

On 31 July 2019, Singpost will be issuing a 60-cent stamp and a $2 stamp. The 60-cent stamp features the pilots Captain Ross Macpherson Smith and his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith, as well as the Vimy bomber aircraft which they flew in. The stamp also shows a mail cover that was believed to be on the flight. 

The $2 stamp also shows the same aircraft, together with a mail cover addressed to Mrs Andrew Smith (the pilots’ mother). The cover comes with the stamps of ten countries where the aircraft stopped over during its journey.

There is also a miniature sheet that contains both stamps, as well as a map showing the journey from London to Darwin. There are 2000 miniature sheets that come with serial numbers, sold at $18 each (except special numbers, $68).

At Singpex 2019, there will be a philatelic exhibition showcasing stamps from the Straits Settlements era to modern-day Singapore, covering 200 years of postal history. Over 1200 exhibition frames have been submitted by competitors from 26 countries. Visitors will get a glimpse of rare stamps that are seldom seen. There will also be booths set up by stamp dealers, auction houses and postal administrations from around the world. 

First Airmail in Singapore

Back in 1919, six teams participated in a flying machine competition arranged by the Australian government. Captain Ross Macpherson Smith and his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith – both Royal Air Force pilots – eventually became the first team to fly from England to Australia within 30 days. They were offered a prize of 10000 Australian pounds for being the first to complete this journey. 

The team flew in a Vimy bomber aircraft, together with two mechanics Sergeant W.H. (Wally) Shiers and J.M. (Jim) Bennett on board. The aircraft left Hounslow Heath on 12 November 1919 and arrived in Darwin on 10 December 1919, taking a total of 27 days and 20 hours. Apart from Singapore, there were 13 other stops along the route from London and Darwin, including Rome, Cairo, Calcutta (present-day Kolkata) and Batavia (present-day Jakarta). 

Singpex Exclusive Products

At Singpex 2019, there are some exclusive stamp products by Singpost. On the first day of Singpex, 100 imperforated stamp sheets and 100 imperforated miniature sheets were made available at $150 each.

  • Singpex 2019 Exhibition Miniature Sheet (featuring Year of the Pig stamps) – $2.45
  • Set of 5 pre-cancelled souvenir covers (with Singpex daily theme date stamps, only available on the last day) – $18.70
  • 5 Special Edition Aerogramme for 100 Years of First Airmail – $8.00
  • 100 Years First Airmail postcards (three different designs with gold foil stamping) – $1.60 each, $4 per set of three
  • Blank Souvenir Cover – $0.50

Two Singpex-exclusive commemorate sheets were also sold for $12.80 each: the Singapore–Israel Joint Stamp Issue (8 May 2019) and the Singapore–Philippines Joint Stamp Issue (16 May 2019). These commemorative sheets come with a full set of stamps from both countries. The stamps are also cancelled with a postmark from the respective countries.

$20 Singapore Bicentennial Commemorative Banknotes (2019)

On 10 June 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a single commemorative note as part of the Singapore Bicentennial celebrations. Instead of a $200 note, the MAS opted for a $20 denomination in order to make it more affordable for Singaporeans to own a piece of history.

This $20 polymer banknote commemorates 200 years since the landing of Sir Stamford Raffles on the shores of Singapore in 1819. In total, 2 million banknotes were put into circulation. Members of the public could exchange these commemorative banknotes at the face value of $20 each. There was a limit of 20 pieces per transaction, and notes were made available at major bank branches across Singapore.

Compared to the previous commemorative issue in 2017 to mark 50 years of Currency Interchangeability between Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, stocks were depleted quickly for the Singapore Bicentennial notes. In 2017, 2 million commemorative banknotes were issued by MAS, with a face value of $50 each. There was another 1 million $50 banknotes issued by the Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam. These banknotes were still made available at banks right before the 2019 Chinese New Year festive period.

Singapore Bicentennial $20 Commemorative Note Folder

Each note also comes with a commemorative folder that has a two-sided transparent window which can be used to display the banknote. Unlike the hard cover folders for the SG50 commemorative banknotes (2015) and the 50th Anniversary of Currency Interchangeability Agreement notes (2017), the folder for the Singapore Bicentennial banknotes comes with a matte-finished soft cover.

The inside of the folder contains a short description of the bicentennial commemorative banknotes, as well as a message by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The message was written in the four official languages of Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English.

The banknote was launched by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana’s Hari Raya Puasa open house held on 5 June 2019. The note was designed by local artist Eng Siak Loy, together with his son Weng Ziyan. This was also the third time a $20 note appeared in the history of Singapore currency: the first two being the $20 Bird Series circulation note (1979) and the $20 commemorative note to celebrate 40 years of Currency Interchangeability Agreement between Singapore and Brunei Darussalam (2007).

For more information on previous banknote issues, you may wish to get hold a copy of my book, Singapore Banknote: Complete Prefix Reference. Detailed descriptions are provided for all commemorative banknotes in Singapore’s currency history.

The front of the note shows a portrait of Singapore’s first president, Yusof bin Ishak. It also shows the former Supreme Court and City Hall, which is currently occupied by the National Gallery Singapore. The left side of the note also features the numerals ‘20’, the Singapore Coat of Arms, the Singapore Bicentennial logo and the years ‘1819’ and ‘2019’, all printed in gold foil with optically variable effects. The banknote carries the signature of MAS Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The reverse side pays tribute to eight pioneers who have contributed to Singapore in the early days in various ways. These individuals arrived on the shores of Singapore from as early as the 1800s, helping to lay the foundations for Singapore.

The back also shows the Singapore River, flowing from the past to the present. The Singapore River helped Singapore transform herself into a trading port in the early days, and eventually into a thriving financial centre for the region.

Unlike the SG50 commemorative banknotes issued in 2015, there are no special symbols found on the back of the note to indicate the batch.

The banknote has a size of 162 mm by 77 mm, which is the same size as the $100 circulation banknote from the current Portrait Series.

There are five prefixes for this commemorative banknote: AA, AB, AC, AD and AE. Prefix AA is used for the 3-in-1 uncut sheets. On the first day of issue, all four remaining prefixes AB, AC, AD and AE have been observed on single notes.

These banknotes are legal tender in Singapore, and can be used in day-to-day transactions. Perhaps you may be lucky enough to receive these banknotes as change when you go shopping next time?

Update: On 14 June 2019, the MAS announced in a media release that there will be another additional 2 million pieces of Singapore Bicentennial $20 note. The second batch of commemorative notes is expected to be issued around October to November. The first batch of 2 million notes were fully exchanged at the banks within a week.

Similar to all other commemorative issues, the Singapore Bicentennial banknote cannot be deposited into cash deposit machines. Due to the limited quantity of banknotes issued, and that most of these notes will be kept for future generations, it is not too cost-effective for banks to calibrate their machines to accept these notes.

The Singapore Bicentennial commemorative note also comes as a 3-in-1 uncut sheet, with an issue date of 20 June 2019. A total of 5000 uncut sheets were issued by balloting. These uncut sheets are distributed by the Singapore Mint, and comes in an acrylic display case.

$50 Note with Three Stars

Singapore $50 note with three stars on the reverse

In January 2019, the Singapore $50 banknote with three stars below the word ‘Arts’ has been observed in circulation. The banknote bears the signature of MAS Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Similar to the $50 banknotes with one and two stars, the serial number of the banknote starts with the digit ‘5’.

Singapore Third Series Coins

Singapore’s set of circulation coins will be updated in mid 2013. The third series of coins will feature key icons and landmarks in the country, namely the Merlion ($1), the Port of Singapore (50c), Changi International Airport (20c), public housing (10c) and the Esplanade (5c).

These coins mark Singapore’s progress as a nation. The Monetary Authority of Singapore made this announcement on 21 February 2013. The exact date of issue has yet to be announced, but MAS has indicated that all denominations of the new coin will be issued “simultaneously by the middle of 2013”.

These coins will be struck by the Royal Canadian Mint with enhanced security features. The lion head is found on the reverse of each coin in the series as a unifying symbol. Also, the coins feature larger denomination numerals for easier identification. The obverse of the third series coins remain as the Singapore Coat of Arms, and “Singapore” in the four official languages.

The one dollar coin will be struck on a bimetallic planchet. It also features a laser mark micro-engraving of Singapore’s national flower – the Vanda Miss Joaqium. The new $1 coin will be larger than the current $1 coin, while retaining the octagonal frame along the coin rim. With a diameter of 24.65 mm, the new $1 coin is approximately the same size as the current 50c coin (at 24.66 mm in comparison).

Coins of the third series will be progressively sized by denomination.

The first series of coins was issued back in 1967, in denominations of 1c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c and $1. The second series of coins featuring flowers in the garden city was issued in 1985 and is currently in general circulation.

World Stamp Exhibition 2015: Fishes, Orchids and Birds Definitives

To commemorate Singapore’s golden jubilee in 2015, the Association of Singapore Philatelists has won the bid to host the World Stamp Exhibition here. Four sets of stamps featuring designs from previous years will be issued each year leading up to 2015. They include Queen Elizabeth II Definitives (1955), Fishes, Orchids and Birds Definitives (1962-1966), National Day (1960) and Osaka Expo (1970). These stamps have been selected to revive the memories of collectors and to showcase Singapore’s progress and developments over the years.

The first series released on 31 August 2012 feature two designs from the Fishes, Orchids and Birds Definitives (1962-1966).

The Yellow-breasted Sunbird (Leptocoma jugularis) is commonly seen near Singapore’s shorelines. When taking off, this sunbird produces a chipping sound made by knocking two pebbles. Attracted to red flowers in particular, it is depicted in front a firecracker plant (Russelia juncea) on the stamp.

The White-bellied Sea Eagle is also often spotted around the coastal areas and on offshore islands. It can also be seen hovering the skies in circles at Labrador Park. To feed on crabs, these eagles drop the crabs from a height onto rocks in order to break their hard shells.

The collectors’ sheet containing two $5 stamps is sold for $12.80. The stamps feature the same design as their $2 counterparts.

Denomination: 2 designs of $2
Miniature Sheet: 2 designs of $2
Stamp size: 29.5 mm by 39.5 mm
Miniature sheet size: 102 mm by 81 mm
Perforation: 13
Sheet content: 10
Designer: Chan Willie

The Second Series of Malaysian Currency Stamp Issue (2012)

In conjunction with the new Second Series of Malaysian banknotes on 16 July 2012, Pos Malaysia has released a set of stamps featuring the new coins and banknotes. Eight 60 sen stamps show the obverse and reverse of the new coins, while the six denominations of banknotes are depicted on the RM 5 stamps, in two separate pieces containing three miniature sheets each.

This is a very special set of stamp in terms of design. Firstly, it is printed with hot stamp foiling on most stamps. In addition, the 60 sen stamps featuring the coins are hexagonal in shape, complete with embossing to bring out the intricate details on the coin.

The RM 5 stamps featuring the banknotes contain silver foil hot stamping to carefully represent the security thread on the notes, including that of the RM 50 note.

These new notes are to replace the previous series that has been in circulation for over ten years. The coins have also been released into general circulation earlier in the year. Banknotes can be exchanged over the counter at most major banks in Malaysia.

Denomination: 8 designs of 60 sen
Miniature Sheet: 6 designs of RM 5
Stamp size: 35 mm by 40 mm, hexagon
Miniature sheet size: 100 mm by 70 mm
Stamp in Miniature Sheet: 60 mm by 40 mm
Perforation: 14
Sheet content: 20
Designer: Reign Associates Sdn Bhd

Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s Signature on New Singapore $50 Notes

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.

Pond Life Definitives: Reprint Stamps (2011B)

The Pond Life Definitive stamps were released in 2011, featuring pond creatures in their natural habitat. Earlier this year, an additional design for the 1st Local and 2nd Local denominations were introduced.

On 11 July 2011, first reprint stamps for the 20c, 30c and 50c denominations will be made available at philatelic outlets across the island. They include the branches at Change Alley, Changi Airport, Chinatown, Jurong Point, Killiney Road, Singapore Post Centre, Robinson Road, Tanglin, Thomson Road, Toa Payoh Central and Woodlands.

Each stamp will be marked 2011B. These stamps can be purchased individually. For special requests including colour checks, plate numbers and reprint markings (“RP”), a minimum of a block of 4 stamps per denomination must be purchased, subject to the availability of stocks.

In addition, the first reprint of the Pond Life Definitives booklets (2012B) will be made available. At the bottom right corner of the stamp, the “2012B” is printed in black, instead of “2012A” in white. In addition, the “1RP” marking is found at the bottom right corner of the self-adhesive stamp booklet.

Gardens by the Bay (2012)

To commemorate the opening of Singapore’s latest attraction Gardens by the Bay on 29 June 2012, Singapore Post released a set of two $1.10 stamps. The stamps are designed by Mr Eng Siak Loy. He has previously designed a large number of local stamps, including the issue 150 Years of Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Among the three gardens at Gardens by the Bay, Bay South is the largest. Spanning 54 hectares, Bay South will feature the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry through two contrasting sets of foliage, the Heritage Gardens and the World of Plants. Two cooled conservatories and man-made supertrees ranging from 25 metres to 50 metres in height form the backdrop of Bay South. The 32-hectare Bay East spans 2 kilometre along the Marina Reservoir to link Gardens by the Bay with East Coast Park. The 15-hectare Bay Central will provide access to cultural activities at The Esplanade Theatres on the Bay arts centre.

The new attraction is a short five-minute walk from Bayfront MRT. A free shuttle service operates between Marina Bay MRT station and Gardens by the Bay at ten-minute intervals, from 9 am to 9 pm daily.

Stamp size: 120 mm by 40 mm
Perforation: 13
Sheet content: 10
Designer: Eng Siak Loy

Images and adapted text: Singapore Post