Monday, December 29, 2008

Iran 500 Riyal

I got this Iranian 500 Riyal note when I was in Iran in March this year when I attended the Asia-Pacific Housing Ministers meeting in Tehran. In fact I got the entire Islamic series as well as the Pahlavi series. I could not get the pre Pahlavi series as they were too expensive.

However this Islamic series is interesting. I don't think there is any other currency in the world showing a group of people praying be it Islamic or otherwise. Though this 500 Riyal note is not worth much as the Iranian currency has weakened since the days of the Shah of Iran.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Russia 500 Rubles 1997

Continuing my series of 500 unit notes of many countries. This 500 ruble note is from Russia. I was in Moscow in 2007 leading the Brunei MOF team negotiating for a treaty with Russia. That was the third round - the first two were in Brunei. I have to admit then I was not expecting to go to Moscow. Most times, I am able to complete a negotiation by two rounds at most but Russia was slightly different. Anyway, it gave me and my team a chance to visit Moscow and not that many people had that opportunity.

When we arrived at the hotel, there was not much hassle at the airport, our passports were taken from us. Russia has a policy where every visitor had to be registered and you cannot go out without your passport (most important rule). So for the next few hours while the hotel was arranging for our registration with the local authorities, we were holed up at the hotel. As soon as we got our passports back, we went out to see what Moscow was like.

Anyway, their currency was just like any other currency and the 5 pieces that I have are used notes which I saved up from the trip. This one is 500 rubles and the largest note then was 5000 rubles. I didn't remember buying much in Russia other than a nice carved wooden chess set from Ukraine or something. Moscow was full of buildings - old ones. But the most memorable was being taken on this ship cruising the Moscow River and to see the famous Russian ballet show. A visit to Moscow hold special memories.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cambodia 500 Riel 1970

I found another old 500 note in my currency notes collection. This one is from Cambodia bought by my sisters when they went to Angkor Wat. I was once in Cambodia attending an ASEAN meeting but at that time, I was not into notes collection and I only used US Dollars there.

This particular 500 Riel note is quite old (around 1970) and no longer in use. But it had an interesting painting and not many countries have paintings on their currency notes. The interesting bit about Cambodia is that by 1975 when Khmer Rouge ran the country, the country did not use money. It was not until 1980 when Cambodia was taken over by Vietnam did the country has money again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Singapore Ship Series $500

Talking about 500 note, I had a rare surprise last month. Over the last few months, I had asked my banker nephew to keep a lookout for paper notes. One day he text me and send a photo image of this $500 Singapore note which had come through its branch and asked me whether I would like to have it. Would I?!

I certainly would. I dropped at his bank in lunch time, handed him $500 worth of Brunei money and got the $500 Singapore note. It is not a good note though but a used one and I would grade it around F/VF. But it is certainly a rare example of a Singapore ship series note making the rounds in Brunei. This one will certainly not be returning back to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yemen 500 Riyal

When I posted the Qatar 500 Riyal yesterday, I remembered this Yemeni 500 Riyal which I got when I was in Singapore recently. I was at a money changer when I saw this 500 Riyal in his glass cabinet and asked whether I could buy it. I can't remember what the cost was but it was relatively cheap and I managed to buy it. The colour and design really reminded me of that Qatari 500 Riyal. What do you think?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Qatar Riyal 500

My DM went to Qatar in November and I asked his PA to get me Qatar's 500 Riyal note. When I went to Qatar in January earlier this year to lead the negotiation team for Brunei-Qatar Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, I forgot to save the 500 Riyal note. I think I did but I had to pay for something on the last day and I had to use it.

This time round, I made sure that I got the 500 Riyal note which is worth just slightly more than B$200. The note is a polymer and had a small window in the middle of it. This is like the new Qatari 100 Riyal note.

The Qatari notes have a special place in my life. It was the last country I went to as a Ministry of Finance official. The day after I arrived back in Brunei, I was promoted to my current job.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

China FEC 100 Yuan 1980

I purchased this very recently through ebay. This is a 100 Yuan Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC). In the days when the Yuan was not allowed to be change in the open market, foreigners going to China had to buy this FEC note from the government thus paying whatever official exchange rate that was in force at that time. It also limited the holder to shopping at certain places only. This FEC note is now very very difficult to get.

In fact when this note came out in ebay, I did not win the auction as the price went beyond my limit. But I was surprised when the owner gave me a second chance offer because he said he had another note available and I had to pay him my highest bid. I did that. When the note arrived, I realised that I had struck lucky. The original note that was on offer was actually a 1990 version thus had a catalogue value of around 400 Yuan. But the one that I got was a 1980 version and had a catalogue value of 900 Yuan! I am using a Chinese notes catalogue which I bought when I was in China recently. The book is in Mandarin and I can't read it but I know enough to know where the prices are. Now I feel guilty whether I should tell the owner...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Disney Dollars

Every now and then to calm my nerves trying to win bids for Brunei dollars and stamps on ebay, I would go and bid for the Disney dollars. Disney dollars are more fun and less stressful. The above are the ones released for 2008 and in time for Disney's 80th Anniversary. Disney dollars are reasonable but the older ones are rising in prices. What are Disney Dollars?

Disney Dollars were released to the public on May 5th., 1987. Disney Dollars came in one and five dollar denominations from 1987 thru 1989. Starting in 1990 they added the Disney ten dollar bill. Disney Dollars are redeemable for goods or services at the Disney theme parks, Disney cruise ships, and the Disney stores.

Disney Dollars are printed in "A" dollars and "D" dollars. The "A" Disney Dollars created for Disneyland in Anaheim, California, the "A" refering to Anaheim, and the "D" Disney Dollars for Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida. Starting in 2005 Disney Dollars are also available as "T" dollars. Also In 2005 , Disney offered a Fifty Disney Dollar bill that was designed by Disney master artist for 39 years, Charles Boyer for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Charles Boyer also personally signed a select number of these. In 2007 "E" & "F" prefix Disney Dollars were added.

Disney Dollars are beautifully printed in bright, vibrant colors. The intaglio printing process used to print Disney Dollars allows you to "Feel The Steel" on the paper, as banknote engravers would say. Disney Dollars are much sought after collectables by Disney collectable fans.

New Disney dollars have been produced every year since 1987 except 1992, 2004 and 2006. Disney Dollars can be exchanged dollar for dollar with US currency. The Disney Dollar is a source of revenue for the Walt Disney Company as it is assumed a certain number of Disney dollars will never be redeemed, and will be gobbled up by collectors.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rare Brunei's 6 cents stamp

Over the last week, I have been tracking and bidding on this rare 6c Brunei stamp Japanese Occupation. Yesterday I lost it. My final bid was GBP400, the winning bid was GBP411, I think.

This is one of the last four Brunei stamps which I am trying to get. These are the highest values of the entire Brunei collection. This 6c stamp only comes out once in a blue moon. Scott listed it at around USD775. The next time this comes out, I am not going to play nice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Singapore's $10,000

For those who kept with my other blog would have known that I have spent the last 6 days in Singapore. And numismatically, it was worth the 6 days. I managed to get a few notes especially older Brunei and a number of other notes as well. But I thought the one I posted above takes the cake.

This is a Singapore $10,000 genuine specimen note. The only difference between this one and the one in circulation (if you can find any) is that this one has the word specimen on it. According to my numismatic dealer, this note was available for $180 when it first came out. Of course, it is not $180 anymore when I paid for it.

According to my dealer too, apparently some of these specimen notes were taken to one country and over there they managed to wipe off the word specimen and then changed each note for an actual $10,000. I have never heard of this story but if this is true, I am not surprised that the story was not publicised. No one wants to look like a fool and at the same time no one wants many people to find out that these $10,000 specimen notes are actually worth something more than the original price of $180.

On a separate note, if you were to find a Brunei $10,000 specimen note, how much do you think you would have to pay for it? Well, the price on ebay is at least $10,000.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

4th World Urban Forum, Nanjing 2008

When I attended the Asia Pacific Housing Minister's Meeting in Tehran in March, each of us delegates was given special commemorative stamps. So I was not surprised when I opened my bag when I attended the 4th World Urban Forum in Nanjing, I found a commemorative album with stamps, first day cover and two miniature sheets. Three of them are all related to the Urban Forum but one of them is not. The second miniature sheet was an older 2005 miniature sheet which was commemorating Admiral Zheng when he set sail for his seven voyages in the early 15th century from Nanjing. Here are all four of the philatelic items:-

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

World's Most Expensive Stamp

New York, 4th October 2008 - A stamp issued by the U.S. post office in 1868 sold for $1,035,000 in an auction at Siegel Auction Galleries in New York City. The amount includes a 15% buyer's premium. The stamp was purchased by a collector who bid anonymously over the telephone.

The million-dollar price was paid for a 3-cent "B Grill" stamp, which was printed in 1868 with an embossed pattern in the paper. Collectors are said to prize these "grilled" stamps and only four copies of the "B Grill" are known. The stamp was sold during a three-day auction of more than 1,100 stamps owned by Perry B. Hansen, a mid-western banker.

"Collectors who want rare stamps don't seem fazed by the chaos in the financial markets. We had four bidders on the B Grill over $600,000, and the stamp has a current book value of only $250,000," said Scott R. Trepel, president of Siegel Auction Galleries.

Last year a rare Inverted "Jenny" stamp was sold at Siegel Auction Galleries for $977,500.00.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

China's Olympics Currency Notes

I got a lot of currency notes from China but the one that I wanted was a modern one - the 10 yuan Olympics souvenir. I could not get that note. I found out that only 6,000,000 was printed and you would have thought that would be plenty. Apparently not. Distributed nationwide, each city only get a few thousand pieces. In Nanjing, only 3,000 pieces were released there. So there is no way I could get it unless I want to pay big money for it. It cost at least US$300 each.

The AP said when it first released the news, only the Olympics could bump Mao Zedong, the founding leader of communist China, off a Chinese banknote. To commemorate the Beijing Olympics, China's central bank is issuing a new 10-yuan note, according to a report by Monday's official Xinhua News Agency. The note is worth $1.45, the starting price for a taxi ride in the capital. Mao is gone from the note, replaced by a sketch of the new National Stadium — the Bird's Nest — and the emblem of the Beijing Games, according to the report. Both are set against the backdrop of the Temple of Heaven, one of Beijing's iconic sites. The back of the note features a statue of a Greek discus-thrower and the year 2008 written in Arabic script. The bank said it will issue 6 million notes beginning Tuesday, a tiny distribution meant almost as a souvenir. The new note is slightly larger than the ordinary 10-yuan note, which will continue to circulate.

I did manage the get the next best which are the Hong Kong $20 and Macao 20 Patacas issued by the Bank of China.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

China's New Millennium Note 2000

This was the newest issued noted of China for the new 21st century. This was issued on 28th Novembe 2000. It is a polymer note. On the front can be seen a rising dragon of the nine dragon wall in Beijing, a laser mark on the right and a transparent window with the logo of Temple of Heaven. On the reverse is the China Century Temple.

I managed to get this note for 360 Yuan when I was in China. I don't know what the market value is really but I thought 360 was a reasonable figure. That works out to be around B$75.

What I really wanted to get was the Olympics 10 Yuan. On ebay that is currently traded at about US$300 which I thought was a little steep.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Philippines 500 Peso English Series

Another note which cost me a bit when I was in Manila was this 500 Peso note. I don't have my catalogue with me to say what year this was but I remembered that this one was issued a few years after the end of the Second World War.

This was an unusual series called the 'English' series as all the writings on the notes are in English unlike today's which is purely in Tagalog. This particular fine note cost me 3,000 Peso which is around B$100.00 which actually is quite expensive. I would have to wait for a Filipino to comment on the photograph and features of the currency note.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Philippines 20 Peso 1921

When I was in Manila recently, I came across a shop in San Juan selling Philippines currency notes. At first I just wanted to have a look but when the lady started taking out all her notes, I could not help but just had to buy everything she had on Philippines. Over the next few weeks, I will highlight those that I bought.

One of the more expensive note which I bought was this 1921 note. The original price for this note was 17,000 Peso which is far from what I am willing to pay. But after negotiation plus the fact that my total purchase have already exceeded four figures, I decided to purchase this one for around 10,000 Peso which is roughly around B$300 which is again much more than I should spending on this.

But it is 1921 and it is one of the more rare notes so I guess I should not regret this. I managed to get all the modern currencies as well as the various bank notes issued during the war by the various regions. Those were interesting. I am still following up a few of the Philippines Currency notes which I do not have in my posession.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SOAS Mosque $50 stamp

Last month, 26th September 2008, was the 50th anniversary of Masjid Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien. The Postal Services issued a set of new stamps to commemorate the event plus two miniature sheets. The first miniature sheet is shown above which is the high value miniature sheet with a $50 stamp.

This $50 stamp is not the first $50 stamp for Brunei. The first $50 stamp was issued in 1996 for His Majesty's 50th Birthday. In fact five $50 stamps were produced especially for that and the miniature sheet sold for $250 (it is about $800 on the market now). A $60 stamp was issued for His Majesty's 60th Birthday and a $40 stamp was issued for His Majesty's 40th Coronation earlier this year. This high value stamp is certainly an interesting marketing strategy for Brunei's Postal Services as not that many people will be using this $50 stamp. I would say a used one would probably cost more than an unused one.

Back in the 1970s, most people did not know that the mosque was also a school. In those days, Madrasah, the building next to the mosque was the only school that provided sekolah ugama in the morning in the whole of Brunei, I think. Most of us who attended the Brunei Preparatory Schools would be going to school in the afternoon. So the only way to go get sekolah ugama would be going to madrasah. Madrasah classes were overflowing. I remembered there were about 50+ of us in each class. The classes were not even partitioned properly except with standing wooden partition. You can hear the classes next to you.

We were like that for a few months before they started using the balconies overlooking the main prayer hall at SOAS Mosque. Every day we would be dragging up a standing blackboard up to the balcony. The balcony is not very visible from the main prayer hall but every Thursday I would remember looking down at the workers laying the carpets for the next day Friday prayers. I think in those days, the carpets were not permanently placed on the floors. So on the balcony, there would be two or three classes, one on both ends and one in the middle. This went out for a few months before we got moved to the classes at BPS Bandar at today's SOAS College padang. That's another interesting story in itself.

I remembered SOAS Mosque. I am probably one of a few people in Brunei who can say I studied there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brunei's New One Cent Coin

The Brunei Currency and Monetary Board (BCMB) issued new one-cent coins yesterday. The new coins will be in circulation alongside present one-cent coins and both would remain as legal tender in Brunei Darussalam and countries that accept them.

The announcement was made by Sainin bin Hari Mohammad, manager of the Brunei Currency and Monetary Board (BCMB) currency operation, who spoke on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer during a press conference at the BCMB building yesterday.

The difference between the new and present one-cent coin is that new one-cent coin is made from a composition of copper and zinc metals and is yellowish in color, while the present one-cent coin is made up of only copper metal and is brownish in color.

However, the new one-cent coin still retains some of the present one-cent coin features. The weight of the new and present coin is around 1.780 to 1.8010 grams per unit and has a diameter of 17.610 to 17.660 millimeters.

According to the BCMB official, the selection of copper and zinc metals in producing the new coins was to save production cost, thus, justifying the face value of the coin.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

SOAS Mosque Opening 1958

A Miss Jennifer sent me this set of First Day Covers all commemorating the opening of Brunei's Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in September 1958. The 50th Anniversary of the opening is coming up this Friday and there is currently a lot of interest in these old philatelic items. I only had one of these 3 FDCs but I was not surprised when Jennifer sent me these three different designs. I found that for other stamp issues in the 1950s and the early 1960s, there will always be more than one FDC design. I am guessing that in those days, these FDCs were not always issued by the Postal authorities and that other people may be allowed to issue them as well.

The SOAS Mosque was opened on 25th September 1958. That day was a public holiday because it was also Prophet Muhammad's birthday. So that day was Maulid Rasul or Maulud Nabi. The stamps were officially issued on 24th September 1958, the day before the official opening.

Two of the three FDC had 24th as the postmarked on the FDC. But one of them was issued on 26th, the day after. It would be interesting to know why that is so.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brunei's 'Pead' First Day Cover 1895

I am trying to win ebay's auction on this item but I fear I am not closer to getting it. The price at this point in time is US$409.00 which is already too much what I am willing to pay for.

In 1895, when John Robertson managed to get the stamps concession from Sultan Hashim, he produced a set of 10 stamps in exchange for running the postal service in Brunei. With hindsight, we now know that what he wanted was to get the rights to producing the stamps and make gains from it. The postal service which he ran was described as 'sporadic at best' so he was not meeting his end of the bargain of running that postal service.

As part of his investments, he sold first day covers. He sent two batches of first day covers, one was to a Mr. Parker and the other was to a Mr. Pead, both in London. These two, maybe numerous in 1895, have now been much harder to find and their prices have increased as well. I managed to obtain the 'Parker' first day cover for about GBP220 in an auction a few months ago. I thought getting the 'Pead' first day cover would complement the 'Parker' first day cover. But not at more than US$400+.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Brunei's $40 Stamp

Last month was His Majesty's 40th Anniversary of his coronation. I wrote about the stamps that were issued specially to mark the occassion which you can read here.

Together with the set of stamps were two miniature sheets. One contained all the stamps and the other contained a very high valued stamp of $40. At the time of the stamps, the lady at the philatelic unit informed me that the high value miniature sheets were being reprinted. There was a wrong colour or something like that. I did not get mine until today. So here it is:

When I went to the counter last month, the lady said she would reserve me a number - the miniature sheet has a serial number. I just said 500 as the number that popped up in my head and I got that 000500. I should have asked for something like 888 or something.

This is not the first time Brunei postal authorities issued high valued miniature sheet. The previous one was to mark the occassion of His Majesty's 60th Birthday. The authorities issued a $60 stamp on miniature sheet and sold it for $235. The previous one to that was when His Majesty celebrated his 50th birthday. The postal authorities issued a miniature sheet with five $50 stamp and the miniature sheet had a face value of $250. Then I was not an avid collector and $250 was a lot of money to pay for stamps. Nowadays I am willing to pay much more. Much to my regret that $250 miniature sheet cost me $600 at a philatelic store in Singapore in March.

So the lesson would be - get your hands on this $40 miniature sheet. It would rise up in value in the future and this is a pretty good investment.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Brunei's $5 1995

I bought a book about Brunei published around 1980s. The book was relatively modern but it does show a number of changes that Brunei has undergone over the last 20 odd years. I was surprised when I saw the photo above. It shows a Kampong Ayer on Pulau Pepatan. So it is strictly not Kampong Ayer proper. I remembered this scene as I know it appeared on one of Brunei's older currency notes.

And here it is forming the illustration of 1995 series of $5 notes. Most of these series took their photos from one of the postcards or more relatively known photographs. I have written about a few in the past.

For those still wondering which $5 note I am talking about, here it is.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Brunei Japanese Occupation 30c Stamp

This is the 16th stamp of the 20 stamp set of Brunei Japanese Occupation. The others which I am looking for is the 6c red stamp, the $5, the $25 and $3 overprints which all have catalog values of four to give digits.

This 30c stamp cost me US$135. Its catalog value is much lower at around US$100 but the opening bidding price was already at US$125. So the catalog value should be revalued higher. I had a tough time searching for this stamp and the moment I saw it I thought I will grab it.

It's an ordinary 30c 1924 issue but I think by the time of the Japanese occupation, there was not much of this issue left for them to overprint. Hence the scarcity of it. Similarly with the 8c grey which has a catalog value of around $2,000+. I purchased that the other day for around M$700+.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Brunei Stamps Definitive 1947

One young lady answered my appeal for the misssing Brunei stamps. By today I will get a used set. I am still waiting for my mint set. So if there are mint sets out there, please let me know.

She wanted to know more about one particular stamp a 15c 1947 definitive. So I thought I will highlight the entire 1947 set. The 1947 set was produced after the Japanese occupation. So all Japanese stamps were to be replaced with an entirely new set of colour. The entire mint set would set you back around $200 catalog value making it affordable to most collectors. There are some high values, the $10 stamp is worth $140 singly, the $5 stamp is worth around $36 and the $1 stamp is worth around $18.

But if you can get your hands on a 1c stamp where the A of the watermark CA is missisang its A is worth around $2,500.00. The 5c retouch if you can get it is worth around $275 each. The sky retouch on 2c stamp would be worth around $150.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

APPEAL for Missing Brunei Stamps

This is an APPEAL. I thought I have all the Brunei stamps ever issued since 1895. I take pride in that. When I was updating my stamp albums, I realised I don't have the above stamps. Urrghhhhh.......

I am willing to pay good money to whoever who can sell me those stamps both mint and used sets. You know the email and let me know the price.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brunei's $5 1908

I guess this is a celebration of sorts. I managed to purchase the Brunei's 1908 $5 stamp (right). A few months ago, I managed to purchase the Brunei's 1908 $5 stamp (left) but it was flawed. So I had to wait for a new one to come on the market and finally it did. It cost me $82 when I won it. It is worth it as the catalogue value is US$175.

This stamp was part of the second set of the Brunei series. This was issued in 1908, exactly 100 years ago. The stamps are used both for fiscal and revenue as well as pay for postage. It will be in 1947 before the Brunei Postal Authorities issued another $5 stamp.