Malaya & British Borneo

Discover the banknotes issued between 1953 and 1961.

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Creation of a common currency

Between 1951 and 1952, a series of currency ordinances enabled several countries, including the Crown Colony of Singapore, the Federation of Malaysia, North Borneo, Sarawak and the State of Brunei, to implement an agreement for the creation of a common currency managed by a Board of Commissioners of Currency which becomes the sole issuing authority in British Malaya and British Borneo. This board was created on January 1, 1952.

The 1953 Issue

A first series of 7 banknotes featuring a portrait of the young Queen Elizabeth II are put into circulation. All denominations are dated March 21, 1953 and are signed by William Cecil Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Currency. The reverse side of the banknotes is illustrated by the coats of arms of the 16 member states (Singapore, Perak, Kedah, Pahang, Malacca, Sarawak, Brunei, Kelantan, Perlis, Trengganu, North Borneo, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Johore, Selangor). $ 1, $ 5, and $ 10 are printed by Waterlow and Sons, $ 50 and $ 100 are printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. and the values ​​of $ 1,000 and $ 10,000 are printed by Thomas de la Rue & Co. Ltd. In order to avoid any counterfeiting, a security thread and a watermark composed of a tiger head have been incorporated into the printing paper. Both the $ 1,000 and $ 10,000 banknotes are very rare and lacking in many advanced collections.


Above and below: front and back of 1 dollar type 1953 (Pick: # 5a). Dimensions: 121 x 63 mm. 390 graded banknotes in the PMG population Report as of March 24, 2021.


The 1959 Issue

On August 31, 1957, the Federation of Malaysia becomes independent. Two new 1 dollar and 10 dollar notes were put into circulation in 1959 and then in 1961. The 1 dollar type 1959 is dated March 1, 1959 and its front is illustrated by a fishing boat at sea. The back shows a group of fishermen returning from a fishing trip and pushing their boat ashore. The 10 dollar type 1961 is dated March 1, 1961 and its front shows a plowing scene with a farmer and his buffalo working in a padi field. The back is simply made up of guilloche shapes with the value. These two banknotes will continue to circulate without major design change and will be legal tender until January 16, 1969.


Above: front of 1 dollar type 1959 (Pick: # 8A). Dimensions: 120 x 63 mm.

On June 12, 1967, the monetary union came to an end when Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei began to issue their own currencies. The currencies of the three countries will however remain interchangeable at their nominal value until May 8, 1973, when the Malaysian government decides to terminate them. To this day, Brunei and Singapore still maintain this interchangeability agreement. The Board of Commissioners of Currency will be definitively dissolved on November 30, 1979.

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