Everything About the New $20 Notes That’ll Be Available from 10 June 2019

If you’re old enough, you’d remember that once upon a time, Singapore has $20 note.

Image: quora.com

They’re, of course, no longer available but now, this denomination is making a “comeback”.

Singapore’s Bicentennial $20 Notes

Two million pieces of a S$20 note to commemorate Singapore’s Bicentennial can be exchanged at 9 major retail banks from 10 June 2019, limited to 20 pieces per person.

The 9 major banks are:

  • DBS Bank Limited / POSB
  • Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited
  • United Overseas Bank Limited
  • Bank of China Limited
  • Citibank Singapore Limited
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited
  • Malayan Banking Berhad
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

(Basically all the banks you can think of lah)

President Halimah Yacob launched it at Istana’s Hari Raya open house on 5 June 2019.

And in case you are still confused about this Bicentennial thing, it actually marks the 200 years since Stamford Raffles came to Singapore in 1819.

Why S$20 of all things? Celebrate 200 years shouldn’t be S$200 meh? Why not S$2 for 200 cents? I’m guessing S$20 because we don’t have many S$20 with Yusof bin Ishak’s face.

Anyway, here’s what it looks like:

Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore

What you see here is “a multi-coloured lattice-work that reflects Singapore’s rich and diverse cultural tapestry.

The ‘20’ denomination, Singapore Coat of Arms, Singapore Bicentennial logo, and the years ‘1819’ and ‘2019’ are depicted in gold with dynamic optical effects in a security stripe.”

Which means that the note is golden and shiny.

Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore

You also get Lee Hsien Loong’s photo and signature as a complimentary.

Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore

Here’s what it says on the folder: “My Fellow Singaporeans, as we commemorate this bicentennial year, may this special note remind you of all those who worked to bring our nation here, and to give us a bright future together.”

5,000 limited edition sets available for pre-order June 5 to 13

And for the more hardcore money collectors (not the ar-long kind; the nerd kind), 5,000 limited edition numismatic sets, each with a pristine uncut sheet of 3 notes encased by a nice album, will be available for pre-order with The Singapore Mint from June 5 to 13.

Image: Singapore Mint

For those looking to Google “numismatic”: it means study or collection of money.

These would be issued on 20 June at The Singapore Mint – Singapore Bicentennial Fair @ HDB Hub Outdoor Mall Atrium (Toa Payoh) from 20 – 27 June 2019.

So, how much is it worth?

Writers are poor creature. The less-than-smart writer would do stupid shit like collecting a month’s worth of canned coffee cans to sell, only to realise it’s only worth less than 10 cents.

(No! I swear that wasn’t me!)

Either way, there will be people among you who didn’t think “that’s a beautiful note full of history” but “how much can I sell this on Carousel later”.

So I checked SG50 (2015) notes on Carousel, and the cheapest I can find is at S$52.

Then a check on Brunei currency agreement S$20 commemorative note (2007), shows results from about S$22 to S$28.

Hmmm, so I would have to wait really long.

People on the notes made significant contributions to Singapore

It’s designed by local artists Eng Siak Loy, 78, and his son Weng Ziyan, 40. Mr Eng was the one responsible for the Yusof bin Ishak faces on our notes now, that was introduced in 1999 called the portrait series.

They labelled the important people on the notes already, so maybe you’ll find this article in the future when you Google those names.

You’ll notice Singapore’s first president Yusof bin Ishak, and the National Gallery Singapore, which is the former Supreme Court and City Hall on the front.

Key events that happened there include the swearing-in of the state government in 1963, and our first NDP in 1966.

But you probably don’t know those eight people on the back who made significant contributions:

  • Munshi Abdullah: Raffles’ secretary and interpreter. Taught new European arrivals Singapore aspects of Malay society and culture. “Father of Modern Malay Literature”.
  • Tan Kah Kee: That MRT station that made my travelling easier. No wait, he was a Chinese philanthropist who arrived in 1890 and was a strong advocator of education who set up schools, including Nanyang Girls’ School in 1918 and Nan Chiao Girls’ High School in 1947.
  • Teresa Hsu Chih: Singapore’s own Mother Teresa. Helped the old, poor and sick.
  • Adnan Saidi: National war hero who held off the Japanese for two days at the Battle of Pasir Panjang despite being heavily disadvantaged. You NS in SAF before, you know one.
  • Ruth Wong Hie King: Institute of Education’s founding director. Known as a forward thinker who pioneered Singapore’s education, with a focus on developing teachers and students alike.
  • Alice Pennefather: Women’s singles champion at the Singapore National Badminton Championships four times between 1931 and 1937. Also won numerous honours in badminton, tennis and hockey.
  • P. Govindasamy Pillai: Indian businessman who was also a philanthropist, particularly in the Indian community. Known as PGP.
  • Henry Nicholas Ridley: First director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Introduced plants of economical value, particularly rubber.
  • BuffLord95: Goody Feed’s resident cat that meows at rotten food when – oh, no, sorry that was my imagination.

The backdrop is an old Singapore River transitioning into modern-day Singapore.

You can read more about them in this link here.

MAS Gallery with currency history from 1800s for the nerds 

Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore

If you wanted more special money, or just want to see the note before you change it, you can do so at the MAS Gallery, in the MAS Building.

There will be other rare currency notes and coins from 1800s to the present day on display.

Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore

MAS Building (10 Shenton Way, Singapore 079117)
Open to public on Mondays to Fridays, 9.30am to 5.30pm
Admission is free

So there, everything you would need to know in order to sound like a history pro.

And also, of course, remember: based on history, you can resell it and earn $2.