Malayan bank notes focus of March sale by Noonans
- Published: Mar 16, 2023, 9 AM
London auctioneer Noonans will be holding its first auction in Singapore on March 25 when it auctions the Frank Goon Reference Collection of British Malayan Bank Notes.
The sale, covering the bank notes of Malaya, The Straits Settlements, Sarawak, British North Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, will be at Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Noonans said in a press release that it considers Goon’s one of the greatest collections of all time.
The sale, in about 250 lots, offers about a third of the collection and is expected to realize in the range of $2.2 million to $3 million in Singapore dollars ($1.63 million to $2.23 million U.S.).
“Without doubt, this the finest collection of its type in existence today,” said Barnaby Faull of the firm’s bank notes department. He continued, “The earliest notes in the collection are all from the private banks operating within the Straits Settlements in the 19th century. Private notes from British Malaya are extremely rare, and if you do find them, they are in appalling condition generally. Frank has managed to accumulate some 40 beautiful examples of the private banks. To find one is difficult, but to see even as many as the 15 of them present in the first auction is virtually unprecedented.”
Three of the offered notes are thought to be unique in private hands: a set of British Malaya notes proofs of George VI dated 1939 that were not issued due to the outbreak of World War II. The set is estimated at $200,000 to $260,000 Singapore ($148,725 to $193,350 U.S.). The proof set, dated Jan. 1, 1939, consists of $1, $5 and $10 notes in green, blue, and purple respectively. Similar notes were eventually issued several years later, but with the colors switched around.
Other unissued notes include color trials, die proofs, printers’ designs, one-off partially printed proofs, and specimens. From the Government of the Straits Settlements is an extremely rare specimen $1,000 note dating from Dec. 8, 1933, with a tiger and crowned head of George V, expected to bring $80,000 to $100,000 Singapore ($59,500 to $74,300 U.S.), while from the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya, there is a rare color trial $10,000 note from 1942 with a portrait of George VI in an oval frame with an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 ($44,600 to $59,500 U.S.).
A modern highlight is a 1973 replacement $10,000 note from the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore, adorned with an Aranda Majulah orchid in the center estimated at $50,000 to $70,000 ($37,185 to $52,000 U.S.). Estimated at about half that is a Bank Negara Malaysia 1,000-ringgit color trial from about 1968.
An unusual part of the collection comprises photos of hand-painted designs that were sent to banks for approval and were later destroyed, leaving these photos as the only historical record.
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