Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Straits Settlements $1000 1911 Specimen at Spink Auction

By Kerry Rodgers, Market Update
June 30, 2008

A unique discovery arrived unexpectedly out of left field at Spink's headquarters. It has become a late offering in their Singapore banknote auction on 5 July.

It is a remarkable $1000 issue of the Government of the Straits Settlements but dated, 17 March 1911 and with serial number A/1 000001. No $1000 denomination is listed in Standard Catalog of World Paper Money among first issue Strait Settlement notes. The earliest date given for any $1000 note is 1919 for SCWPM#14. The new find will become, presumably, SCWPM#4D.

The $1000 was discovered with an envelope titled SPECIMEN/ON HIS MAJESTYS SERVICE and listing the serial number of the note in ink. It is unlikely to have been prepared as a specimen by the printers. However, when the new issue of $1000 was delivered in 1911, in the absence of a true specimen one was converted into such for reference purposes, by being perforated and stamped SPECIMEN. This was a fairly common practice at the time but seldom occurred with notes of this magnitude. It so happens that the note chosen was that from the top of the bundle and hence was the very first $1000 Straits Settlement note ever printed.

The design of the face parallels the other denominations in this first Straits' series: SCWPM#1-4C. It is printed in grey and black with crowned arms top centre flanked by lion and unicorn. The value is given in a black tablet at center, as a green underprint at low center, and numerically in each corner. It also appears around the margins in Chinese, Malay and Arabic. The serial number is repeated four times at each corner and at lower right are the signatures of the three currency commissioners, Egerton, Mitchell and Davis. On the grey reverse a tiger stalks left, as on the backs of SCWPM#4A-4C, while a kris occupies each quadrant.

The note is in VF condition. The paper still has good body and is of original appearance. The estimate has been set at $240,000-300,000.

Updated July 9, 2008
Sold for S$420,000 = US$308,619

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