Singapore $2 Note with A Triangle

In late January this year, banks started issuing a new variety of the $2 Singapore banknote. This polymer note from the Portrait series comes with a triangle on the reverse was seen just two months after the $10 note with one triangle on the reverse surfaced. Now, there are a total of four varieties for the $2 note – with no symbol, one square, two squares and one triangle.

The first prefix for this variety would be 4AA and has a signature of MAS Chairman SM Goh Chok Tong on the obverse.

Spirit of Giving

The latest stamp issue by Singapore Post is entitled ‘Spirit of Giving’. This pair of stamps which measures 73.8 mm by 76 mm each, is probably the largest non-miniature sheet stamp piece ever issued. It features the winning entries from an art competition organised by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) last year. In this competition, children below the age of twelve illustrated their thoughts about the spirit of giving.

To encourage volunteerism among members of the community, this stamp issue was released in conjunction with the 21st International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) World Volunteer Conference, which is held in Singapore from 24 to 27 January 2011 at Resorts World Sentosa. Also, SingPost will donate 50 cents to the NVPC with every purchase of the presentation pack or pre-cancelled first day cover.

Zimbabwe $100 Trillion Banknote

Two years ago on 16 January 2009, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced the printing of the 100 trillion dollar banknote. At the time of announcement, this banknote was worth 300 US dollars, which meant that it would cost 300 billion Zimbabwe dollars for a loaf of bread.

Due to the effect of hyperinflation in the country, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had to print money in increasingly higher denominations. This was one of the worst hyperinflations in history, where prices doubled every 24.7 hours in the month of November 2008. The annual inflation was estimated at 6.5 x 10108 per cent as of December 2008. In order to regain confidence in the economy, the South African rand and the US dollar became the main currencies used for trade from April 2009.

Earlier this year, a news article by the Associated Press (AP) claimed that an increasing number of visitors to Zimbabwe bought these banknotes from street vendors. Although this banknote was not the largest denomination in history, it is certainly worth keeping one, as a souvenir. After the First World War, the Weimar Republic of Germany issued a 100 trillion Mark note. In 1946, the Hungarian National Bank introduced the 100 quintillion (1020) Pengo banknote into circulation, but the twenty zeroes were not printed out. In fact, a sextillion (1021) dollar note was printed but never issued.

In countries prone to hyperinflation, metallic coins are seldom minted. As the prices increase rapidly, these coins were commonly melted down for export due to its diminished face value. In fact, the Zimbabwean banknotes were gradually printed on paper of a lower quality as more zeroes were added.

On another note, three local banks in Singapore are rolling out new and crisp banknotes for the Chinese New Year from today onwards. They are OCBC, DBS and POSB. On Tuesday, new bundles of notes are available at OCBC, HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank. Maybank will allow customers to exchange for new banknotes on Friday.

Year of the Rabbit 2011

The Year of the Rabbit is just around the corner, with three new stamps issued as part of the Zodiac series. The Rabbit is the fourth in the zodiac cycle of twelve animals.

The 1st Local stamp features a rabbit on a hot pink background and the Chinese character ‘chun’, which means ‘spring’. On the 65 c stamp, a rabbit is featured on an orange background together with the character ‘xi’, which translates to ‘happiness’. The slightly larger $1.10 stamp shows two rabbits jumping around.

The Collectors’ sheet features a special printing technique of offset printing on hot foiled golden metallic film with micro embossing and morphing effect on the $5 and $10 stamps. Every purchase of the Collectors’ sheet comes with a free set of red packets featuring the stamp design.

The annual Zodiac Fair is currently being held at the National Library Atrium until tomorrow. The fair opens at 10 am daily.

The 2010 Collection of Singapore Stamps

The 2010 Collection of Singapore Stamps is an annual stamp collection produced by Singapore Post in a coffee-table book style. This book contains all the stamp issues released over the year. It contains a total of 62 stamps and one miniature sheet, with a total face value of S$39.21. Of course, a list of technical details and an interesting write-up accompany each of the stamp issues.

Highlights include, the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, a new series on National Monuments, the anniversaries of four organisations and the Kent Ridge Park Trail.

Purchases made before 31 December 2010 are at a special price of S$51.90. It would be increased to S$55 thereafter. Subject to stock, a year 2011 calendar will be given with every book purchased. Do read about last year’s annual collection 2009 too!

Year 2010 is coming to an end. We would like to wish all readers a pleasantly Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year ahead.

Images: Singapore Post

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010

I have completed the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010 held this morning, with a net time of 4:21:55. This is my second full marathon, with the previous being the Adidas Sundown Marathon 2009.

To give an overview of the full marathon route, I would divide it into four sections.

Starting in front of Wisma Atria, we ran down Orchard Road and Penang Road, then into Fort Canning Tunnel. This first stretch was rather comfortable as not much overtaking was required. The runners were grouped into pens, based on their estimated completion time. Next, we headed south towards Maxwell Food Court via New Bridge Road, which was the four-kilometre mark. We proceeded to cross the Esplanade Bridge, towards the Marina Bay Floating Platform, the Singapore Flyer and the F1 Pit Building. The eight-kilometre mark was at the end of the F1 Pit Building. This was followed by a straight run down Republic Avenue, Nicoll Highway, Mountbatten Road and Fort Road. For this 12-kilometre stretch, there were as many as five water points.

The next section is a run through East Coast Park, one of the favourite places where local races are held. This was a long 18-kilometre stretch nevertheless. When I entered, the sky was still dark, but when I left, the sun was already up in the sky. After a left turn into East Coast Park, we ran past Amber Beacon, Playground @ Big Splash, East Coast Lagoon and Bedok Jetty. Due to the width of the cycling and running tracks, there was little overcrowding. The turning point was somewhere in Area G. Just to add, I almost collided with a big dog which abruptly changed its course of movement.

For the next stretch, we ran alongside the construction site for the Marina Coastal Expressway. As this area was less shady due to the lack of trees, together with the possible effect of aches and cramps, many runners around me were brisk-walking, or simply walking. We ran past the Marina Bay Golf Course. One of the highlight of the marathon route was running across the Marina Barrage, which was rather scenic. We then proceeded towards Marina Mall, which gave a slight reprieve of the scorching heat from the sun.

The last stretch was probably one of the most challenging parts of the full marathon route. First, runners from the 10-kilometre category merged into one lane, where many of them were walking, talking on their mobile phones, eating sandwich, chatting with the person next to them and forming a barricade, blocking the way. After a right turn, we made a slight ascent up the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, where the two leftmost lanes were cordoned off. To make things worse, runners from the half marathon category joined the human jam just before the 38-kilometre mark. Honestly, it was rather difficult, or near impossible, to overtake. One suggestion would be to separate the three different categories, or at the least have race marshals directing those who are not running to both sides. It was similar for the last few kilometres, but things changed for the better after a left turn at the Esplanade. We continued to run towards The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and across Anderson Bridge. The final sprint was alongside the Padang, similar to the Safra Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon.

On the whole, the marathon was well-planned. Of course, the congestion problem for the last four kilometres can be improved. Just a side note, the distance markers seemed to be quite different from that as indicated on the map. For example, the 21-kilometre mark was after the turning point on the map, but before the turning point in reality. Also, it reads 34 kilometres on the map while a 35 kilometre sign stands at the end of Marina Barrage.

Next year, I will be participating in the Sundown Marathon 2011 full marathon and 100-kilometre Sundown Ultramarathon 2011.

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.