For those who recall the “Pandamonium” that occurred at coin shows
whenever China would issue a commemorative Panda coin, or the gold Kennedy half dollars released at the 2014
American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of
Money for that matter, it was a case of deja vu in Hong Kong on June 9, but this time the teeming horde was over
an issue of paper money.
The occasion was the release of a $150 (equivalent to about $19.35
in U.S. funds) commemorative bank note by the Hong Kong and Shanghai
Banking Corp. on the 150th anniversary of its founding in Hong Kong in
March 1865. The note, announced in March, is dated March 3, 2015.
The bank set up an application lottery on a dedicated website
offering a single note for $380 in local funds ($49 U.S.), a
three-subject sheet for $1,380 ($178), or a 35-subject sheet for
$23,880 ($3,080). Separately, the bank also established an auction
where bidders could spend even more on sets of notes with selected
The resultant mob scene clogged parts of the city center until
mid-afternoon and even prevented some workers from getting to their
offices. The mob consisted of the winners of the lottery who had to present themselves with their
letter of confirmation and government identification. The other part
of the mob were the “traders” loitering nearby who were offering up to
$650 in Hong Kong funds for a single note.
The new issue incorporates the usual variety of security features.
The design itself is called “150 Years of Shared Ambitions,” which the
bank describes as “imagery reflecting our 150 years in Hong Kong ...
combined with specially created patterns and translated into designs
that make every banknote a unique work of art.” The images are divided
into phases of growth, faces of growth, reflections of growth, and
security in growth.
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