British Commonwealth Notes of the Far East

Banknotes of the far eastern British Commonwealths are among the most avidly collected in the present market and we offer some auction trends to confirm this. Banknotes from Malaya, British North Borneo, Ceylon, The Straits Settlements and Hong Kong are all part of this trend and even more modern designs fetch a significant premium when offered in Gem states of preservation. Observing a five-year period showcases the remarkable upswing for these notes.

Banknotes issued on Malaya and British North Borneo have been at the forefront of this trend and one example that shows this is the Five Dollar QEII design from 1953, Pick 2a. An early auction record of this design is from our November 2010 Baltimore sale where we sold a PCGS Superb Gem New 68 PPQ note as lot 8995 which brought $546.25. We recently sold a consecutive run of these notes each grading About Uncirculated with realizations averaging roughly $1,000 per note. We imagine the same Superb Gem Note we sold in 2010 would fetch well over $2000 today.

Another popular design is the 1961 series $10 notes also from Malaya and British Borneo that show vignettes of a farmer plowing a field, P-9a, 9b and 9c. These notes have always been quite desirable with varieties in serial number size and prefix types. An early record comes from our August 2011 ANA sale where we sold a Choice Uncirculated P-9a example for $805 as lot 20194. Just a little over two years later we sold another Choice Uncirculated example of the same variety for $2,031.50 as lot 32503 in our April 2014 Hong Kong sale. The previously mentioned P-9a types are those with A prefixes and small serial numbers, the more available of the three types. The more scarce P-9b notes exhibit a larger serial number while being prefixed with an A. We recently offered a P-9b note in our April 2014 Hong Kong sale in a PMG Gem Uncirculated grade which brought $5,078.75 as lot 32505. This is an impressive sum when compared to the 19th edition Standard Catalog of World Paper Money Volume Three uncirculated value of $1,500.

Most Commonwealth notes from the far east follow the above examples at the Extremely Fine grade levels or better. The market seems to show no sign of slowing down, with new records seemingly set after every sale. For those who own these popular items, we encourage you to think about selling on this upswing and offer our Hong Kong auctions as the perfect venue. Contact a Stack’s Bowers consignment expert at 800-458-4646 to discuss a possible consignment.


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