British North Borneo

Discover the banknotes issued between 1886 and 1942

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Borneo is a large island in Southeast Asia. Its name comes from that of Brunei, one of the three current sovereign states sharing the island with Malaysia to the north and Indonesia to the south. From 1882 to 1946, the northeast of the island was under the domination of the British colonial empire and quickly became an English protectorate in 1888. It was the British North Borneo Company which was responsible for administering the territory (1). This part of the island produces timber for export. Along with agriculture, the timber industry became the main financial resource for the British in Borneo. As the population is practically non-existent to operate the economy efficiently, the English authorities are sponsoring migration projects to bring Chinese workers from Hong Kong and China to the plantations of North Borneo (2).

Coins and banknotes are very quickly put into circulation by the British North Borneo Company. The banknotes are denominated in three languages, English, Chinese and Javanese. The British dollar, subdivided into 100 cents, became the official currency of North Borneo from 1882. All banknotes feature on the front the coat of arms of the British North Borneo Company with the currency Pergo and Perago which in Latin means "I m' engage and I reach". Mount Kinabalu, which is the highest point in the region, is often pictured and mainly on the $ 1, $ 10 and $ 25 bills ...


Above: front of 10 dollars type 1896 (Pick: # 5). Dimensions: 215 x 115 mm.


(1) North Borneo is today the territory of Sabah in Malaysia.
(2) Source: Wikipedia.

Our sources

  • "North Borneo", Wikipedia.
  • "British North Borneo" Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12eh edition (pages 162 to 164).
  • "British North Borneo" by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • Bank Note Museum: "British North Borneo".
  • Photos archive: Bank Note Museum, and Heritage Auctions.

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