"Malaysia" has been around since 1832?

Today, 16 September 2016 marks the 53rd anniversary of the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, which comprised of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore at the time it was formed on this day in 1963.

While Malaysia as a country technically came into existence in 1963, the name "Malaysia" has been in use for much longer than that, in fact it has been around for more than 130 years! 

The name Malaysia or “Malaisie” in French, has been used on maps long before the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. One such example is the map titled “S. E. Peninsula and Malaysia” published W. & A.K. Johnston in 1849. Measuring 24 by 19.5 inches (50cm x 60cm), it also covers “Pulo Pinang or Prince of Wales Island”.  W. & A.K. Johnston was one of the major publishing houses of the 19th century, they were based in Edinburgh, U.K. 

This "Malaysia" piece was found in "The National Atlas Of Historical, Commercial, And Political Geography, Constructed From The Most Recent And Authentic Sources, By Alexander Keith Johnston, F.R.G.S., Honorary Member Of The Geographical Society, Berlin, And Geographer At Edinburgh In Ordinary To Her Majesty. With A Copious Index Carefully Compiled From The Maps", first published in 1843. 

Figure 1: A.K. Johnston’s 1849 map titled “S. E. Peninsula and Malaysia”
Figure 1: A.K. Johnston’s 1849 map titled “S. E. Peninsula and Malaysia”

BNM Event - Works on Paper : Art Inside the Wallet

Date : 4 August 2016

Banknotes are something that we use everyday of our lives and yet 99.9% of us do not pay much attention when we take them out of our wallets or purse and handing them over to the cashier. As our newly appointed BNM Governor aptly puts it in his opening speech today, the ONLY time we ever pay attention to the banknotes is when the cashier hands it back to us and telling us it is not acceptable, for whatever reasons!  Of course we the numismatists and collectors are the exception!

Which brings us to the main purpose of this 4 month long exhibition, which is to create awareness in the general public that that paper money are essentially works of art. Did you know that the picture of Mount Kinabalu at the back of RM1 and RM100 are hand painted first before being transferred to the printing plates and printed? There is a lot of work and money, pun intended, put into printing these bits of paper in your wallet and they are produced at such a high level of consistency that the ONLY way you can tell a difference between two RM100 notes is by their serial number!

Malaysia 50 Ringgit - Extra Digit in Serial Number

This interesting 50 Ringgit piece landed on my table some weeks back. It's not mine but I was asked to take a look at it. Here's the high resolution photo of the reverse  :

Fig. 1 : Malaysian RM50 Ringgit, Reverse

Can you see the very faint extra digit on the bottom right?

For those who collect fancy number banknotes, they will know that the only way the digit at the back can only happen when the serial number reaches ten million or 10000000. And as far as I know for that last piece in each prefix, the last digit "0" is manually inserted, not printed by the numbering machine. So there is absolutely no way an extra digit is going to appear in the location above, what more it is also misaligned; the last digit is always a zero, not eight.

So at the first glance this piece looks suspicious already!

Now if you check the last digit really up close, here's what you'll see :

Comparing 2 digits of "8"
Fig. 2 : Comparing the 2 digits of "8" under a microscope

The one on the left is the last digit and the one on the right is another "8" for the same banknote. Notice the difference in the height and width?

That's the dead giveaway that the extra "8" is added after the banknote left the factory.

So folks, please be careful when you come across any such "error notes".

Happy Collecting !

Our Article on International Banknote Society Journal - Jun 2016 issue

Our article on the short snorter was published in the June 2016 issue of International Banknote Society (IBNS) Journal. The journal  is published quarterly and it was an honor to work with the journal editor for my article submission.

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) was founded in 1961. It operates as a non-profit educational organization and in furtherance of such purpose, its objectives are to promote, stimulate, and advance the study and knowledge of worldwide banknotes and paper currencies and all matters related thereto along educational, scientific and historical lines. Currently the IBNS has over 2,000 members in more than 90 countries

Last but not least, lots of thanks for Joe Boling for his encouragement ! This is only the first of many to come, hope to be a regular contributor some day. Most of all, many thanks to all our readers!

Ending the Rubber Export Coupon “B. L. & P.” Conundrum

For Malaysian and Singaporean collectors as well as numismatist, the rubber export coupons is all the rage these days. We have observed a significant uptick in interest and prices of these items in the past 18 months, most notably since the Spink Auction held in Singapore back in August 2015.

Fig 2. The infamous B. L. & P. rubber coupon
Fig 1. The infamous B. L. & P. rubber coupon, 25 katis.

The Mystery of Who Signed this Oceania 10 Shillings JIM Short Snorter - Part I

Good buddy of mine showed me this interesting little piece of 10 Shillings Japanese Invasion Money (JIM), issued in 1942, asking if I can help identify the history and origin; and if possible to grade it.

Take a look :

Oceania 10 Shillings JIM Short Snorter
Fig 1 : A short snorter of JIM 10 Shillings

This piece has some writings on it and they are commonly referred to as "short snorters". To quote Michael Marotta's definition from "The Numismatist" - "Short Snorters are pieces of paper money circulating during the war and/or in a combat zone signed by friends or comrades." They are in essence an improvised scrap book of sorts during World War II. These artefacts usually commemorates events, location, people, dates etc.

New BNM Governor in less than 30 days, so what's the last PREFIX?

Fig 1 : Tan Sri Dato' Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz.   [Source : globalaccessibilitynews.com]

Malaysians can look forward to having a new central bank governor in less than 30 days' time. The
current governor Tan Sri Dato' Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the 7th in line since the central bank was established in 1959; will be stepping down by end of March 2016 when her contract expires.

With 16 years at the helm, she is the longest serving BNM Governor yet. She is also the first woman to be appointed for this prestigious but challenging job. To her credit she was won many accolades, awards and recognition from renowned international organizations such as  EuroMoney, University of Pennsylvannia (Wharton) just to name a few. In 2011 Bloomberg reported that she was considered as a potential candidate for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). If anything, she has put Malaysia on the financial services industry map.

Illegal to own the 1934 U.S. $100,000 Gold Certificate

Over the past year, we have received several calls about the United States $100,000 Gold Certificate (banknote) with the portrait of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, asking us to estimate the value of the piece, hoping that it will be worth millions and they can sell it and solve all their financial problems.

Well, we've got bad news ...... if that piece is real, you can be ARRESTED for owning it!

According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing under the U.S. Treasury, this was indeed printed in the 1930s and ONLY used for transactions between the Federal Reserve Banks and its branches, it is NOT meant for general circulation at all. The size of the note is 157 mm x 66 mm or 6 3/16 in x 2 5/8 inches. There were only 42,000 pieces of these printed and ALL of them have been accounted for, it remains the property of the Government of United States.

As such it is ILLEGAL to own any of such pieces.

If you see any of these, they are either STOLEN PROPERTY or REPLICAS/COUNTERFEITS. Both of which can get you into serious trouble.

Fig. 1 : US $100,000 Gold Certificate, 1934 Series, Obverse
Fig 2: US $100,000 Gold Certificate - Reverse
One of the piece is on display at the National Museum of American History, under the Smithsonian.

We DO NOT buy or sell any of these, therefore please stop calling us about this piece.

Thank you & Happy Collecting, just don't collect the illegal stuff like this one!

International Coin & Currency Events in Asia in H1 2016

Just a quick run down of the upcoming numismatic events in the Asian region in the first half of 2016. As usual we kick off the year's first one with the Singapore Coin Fair 2016.

If you know of any other regional numismatic events, please email us the details at help@alphanumis.com

Happy Hunting!


1-3 April 2016
Singapore International Coin Fair (SICF)
Marina Bay Sands

8-10 April 2016
Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong International Coin Convention (HICC)
Holiday Inn Golden Mile
Website : - Coming Soon -

Poster Unavailable
1-3 May 2016
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo International Coin Convention (TICC)
Royal Park Hotel

Poster Unavailable
20-22 May 2016
China International Coin Expo (CICE)
Beijing, China
Beijing GuoCuiYuan

24-26 June 2016
Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair (HKINF)
The Mira Hong Kong