1988 $5 Centenary of Singapore Fire Service

Issued in: 1988
Mintage: 50,000
Diameter: 38.7 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 20 gm

1988 Centenary of Singapore fire service front 1988 Centenary of Singapore fire service back

The Singapore Fire Brigade was first officially recognised in 1888. Currently the fire fighting force is more commonly known as SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force). There is another coin commemorating the SCDF that I blogged about earlier.

A Brief History (lifted from Singapore Infopedia)
A Fire Committee was formed on 20 December 1855 but the first fire brigade was not established until 10 April 1869. Prior to this, fires were attended to by uniformed groups which included the police, sepoys, marine soldiers and even convicts. On 7 September 1869, the Governor Major-General Sir Harry St. George enacted the Fire Ordinance and appointed the Colonial Engineer as Chairman or President of the Fire Commission for Singapore. The first members of this voluntary Fire Brigade included notable estate owners such as W. H. Read, Thomas Scott, R. Macpherson, W. Maxwell and C. Dunlop. Poor organisation under difficult circumstances racked the voluntary Fire Brigade until its demise in 1884. In 1888, the Singapore Fire Brigade was established and with sufficient funding, gained recognition as a fully equipped professional brigade.
By 1909, there were a total of three built stations servicing Singapore, namely Central Fire Station at Hill Street, Cross Street and Kallang Fire Stations. In 1980, the Singapore Fire Service (SFS) became the official name for the brigade. Today’s Singapore Civil Defence Force was formed in April 1989 with the merger of two services – the Fire Service and the Civil Defence Force.

This coin can be bought cheaply from most coin traders and from shops, not more than S$8 per piece. The design features an original horse-drawn fire engine used a century ago. The resolution on the picture above is not doing it justice. Another remarkably fine detailed design especially on the engine itself.


2007 $2 Singapore 42 Years of Independence

Issued in: 2007
Mintage: 6,400
Diameter: 38.7 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 20 gm

2007 $2 42 years of independence front 2007 $2 42 years of independence back

Singapore is a city of possibilities as the cover of coin packaging says. That was the theme for 2007 Singapore National Day Parade (NDP).

The obverse side of the coin features the floating platform of Marina Bay, with smiling children of different ethnic groups. 2007 was a significant year in NDP history because that was the first year it was held in the floating platform. Since then, with the exception of 2010, we are celebrating our NDP every year in that venue. Before the floating platform, this event used to be held either in the National Stadium or the Padang.

For non-locals, the Singapore NDP, held on every 9 Aug, has always been a major event. Tickets to the parade are scarce and limited. This event is extremely elaborated and entertaining. Each year the organisers (usually a unit from the Singapore Armed Forces) try to outdo the previous year’s, and they always somehow managed to raise the bar. Spectators are always treated with lots of fireworks at the close of the event.

Interesting trivia – ask any Singaporean and they will tell you… it NEVER rains on Singapore National Day. It’s true! There were close calls such as slight drizzles in the morning, or a heavy downpour the day before. But it NEVER rains on National Day! Go figure.

This is the first “almost” full color coin I’ve bought. Even though the denomination is a measly $2, the numismatic value of it is obviously multiples of that. And also with the seemingly low mintage, you probably can’t get that cheap in the market.

1994 $5 International Year of the Family

Issued in: 1994
Mintage: 13,500
Diameter: 38.6 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 20 gm

1994 International year of the family front 1994 International year of the family back

The International Year of the Family was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994.

Singapore celebrated this event in the inaugural year, and then also in 2004 for the 10th anniversary. In 2014, Singapore will celebrate the 20th anniversary. This included the “Singapore Celebrates Family” float during the Chingay festival.

More about the International Year of the Family here.

The coin has a very simple design with stick men-like family of four apparently holding hands or something. This is not a popular piece, so it is likely that you can haggle for a reasonable price at less than $10. There is also a silver proof version at around 8,000 mintage.


Singapore Bank Notes – Ship series

Sometimes coin collecting needs a little distraction… often, collecting bank notes becomes a by-product.

Today, I will share with you one of the earlier bank notes series that is no longer in circulation – the Ship Series. If you’re lucky, you may find a couple of these in your old wallet or in unopened red packets. And if you have a good relationship with your neighborhood bank tellers, there is also a good chance that he or she may come across these old paper cash and be willing to set them aside for you.

This bank note series (Ship) lasted a good 15 years from 1984 to 1999. As the name implies, it features a maritime theme with different ships on each note denomination. It starts with an old ship design at $1 as the technology and design of ships progressively move up with the higher denominations. A side feature is the different types of fish visibly on the bottom right side of each note’s front face.

Denomination: $1
Ship: Sha Chuan
Fish: Chinese carp
Singapore Ship $1 front Singapore Ship $1 back
Shortly after the $1 ship note was circulated, a new $1 coin (floral series) was introduced in 1987 with a much higher mintage than its predecessor. During that time, I know of many who would favor the coin more than the note due to the coin’s bronze gold color… you know, it’s like carrying gold around in our pockets.


Denomination: $2
Ship: Tongkang
Fish: None
Singapore Ship $2 purple front Singapore Ship $2 purple back
Singapore Ship $2 red front Singapore Ship $2 red back
There are two variations in the $2 note – Purple and Red. Traditionally during the Chinese New Year in Singapore, the $2 bill is the most frequently used denomination for red packets (Angbaos). Many would rush to the banks to obtain freshly printed $2 stacks during this occasion. I guess it’s fitting that a red variation was printed.

This is also the only denomination without the fish feature.


Denomination: $5
Ship: Twakow
Fish: Commerson’s Anchovy
Singapore Ship $5 front Singapore Ship $5 back
The $5 bill was becoming increasingly less used. The printed quantity was significantly lesser than the $2 and $10 notes. e.g. the quantity printed for $10 is almost 4 times more than $5.


Denomination: $10
Ship: Palari
Fish: Round Scad
Singapore Ship $10 front Singapore Ship $10 back
It also features a view of the Public Housing on the back, which is a popular theme in many local coins.


Denomination: $50
Ship: Perak
Fish: Six-banded grouper
Singapore Ship $50 front Singapore Ship $50 back
Notably there are three subtle variations in this bill. Comparing the second variation to the first, you will notice a distinctive stronger color on the second, the blue is enhanced to look brighter. The third variation apparently is a clear text version according to the Singapore Mint, I have not exactly figured it out yet. If someone knows the difference between the third and the second, kindly enlighten me. Thanks.


Denomination: $100
Ship: Chusan
Fish: Slender Shad
Singapore Ship $100 front Singapore Ship $100 back
We are now moving into the rare pieces. The back design is the Changi Airport with a plane from the Singapore Airlines flying across. Again, this theme is frequently reused in coins and notes of Singapore.


Denomination: $500
Ship: Neptune Sardonyx
Fish: Indian Mackerel
Singapore Ship $500 front Singapore Ship $500 back
With less than 3 million printed, few would have seen this, let alone getting their hands on one of these. This denomination was later phased out in the Portrait series.


Denomination: $1000
Ship: Neptune Garnet
Fish: Polka-dot Grouper
Singapore Ship $1000 front Singapore Ship $1000 back
This is a rare piece. An uncirculated note can fetch up to multiples of its intrinsic value. I must admit that when I first got it, I had to perform a few checks just to be sure that I’m holding a real note because I don’t get to see this denomination often, as do many.
That’s an even higher denomination – $10,000. If I ever need another distraction from coin collecting, I’ll probably take some time to hunt one down. Maybe it is time I talk to the bank tellers a little more. 😉


1997 $5 Singapore Airlines 50th Anniversary

Issued in: 1997
Mintage: 24,688
Diameter: 38.7 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 20 gm

1997 $5 Singapore airlines 50th anniversary front 1997 $5 Singapore airlines 50th anniversary back

The Singapore Airlines celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1997.

It started as Malayan Airways when it flew its debut flights from Singapore to various parts of now Malaysia in 1947. The airline was briefly named Malaysia Airlines before it became Malaysia-Singapore airlines (MSA) in 1966. Eventually in 1972, MSA separated into Malaysian Airlines System, and Singapore Airlines due to differences in development priorities.

One of the airline’s most successful campaigns was its branding and publicity of the now iconic Singapore Girls.

The coin features a Boeing 747 in the midst of taking off, which I suppose signifies the airlines ambition to continuously reach new heights. Personally, I find the design of the coin rather plain and simple as it fails to capture the airline’s strong international status. I don’t know, perhaps I don’t appreciate the simplistic artwork as well as others.

2006 $5 International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Commemorative Coin

Issued in: 2006
Mintage: 5,230
Diameter: 38.7 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 20 gm

2006 $5 International monetary fund front 2006 $5 International monetary fund back

Singapore was host to more than 23,000 delegates in this world conference where the key objective was to improve lives of people in developing nations. Other topics such as policies on management of financial crises and risk of global economy were also discussed.

The color is uniquely colored on the left side of the front face – the golden bud. It represents the strong life force of Singapore characterises the nation as a regional financial center. If you notice closely on the world map on the coin, the lion symbol at the bottom is pointing at the position of Singapore signalling that this city is well connected to rest of the world with endless possibilities.

Despite its relatively recent mint in 2006 (less than 10 years ago), its low mintage makes this coin a rare find. Occasionally you can find one or two people selling on eBay, but do not expect to get this cheap even though its composition is the common copper nickel.


1997 $10 ASEAN 30th Anniversary

Issued in: 1997
Mintage: 13,800
Diameter: 40.7 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 28 gm

1997 $10 Asean 30th anniversary front 1997 $10 Asean 30th anniversary back

This is the third ASEAN coin.
The first was the 1977 $10 10th anniversary (I’m still sourcing for this coin…)
The second was the 1987 $10 20th anniversary.
Oddly it stops at the third. I was looking for a 40th anniversary coin supposedly in 2007, unfortunately I don’t think it exists.

Compared to the 1987 coin, the emblem is now expanded to include its newer members – Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam – who joined ASEAN in the 1990s. Cambodia, who joined in the year 1999, was not yet part of ASEAN when the coin was minted.

The ASEAN was formed with three main objectives:

  • To promote the economic, social and cultural development of the region through co-operative programmes
  • To safeguard the political and economic stability of the region against Big Power rivalry
  • To serve as a forum for the resolution of intra-regional differences

Getting this coin was a little challenging. It has a relatively low mintage with a lackluster booklet design. I saw this in a couple of coin dealer shops along Chinatown area but they were mostly obscenely priced. Bargaining doesn’t help… I finally managed to buy it from a fellow hobbyist at a decent price. Despite the patience I had in obtaining this coin, it unfortunately did not make it to my list of favorites though.

2003 $2 Tribute to our Healthcare Givers

Issued in: 2003
Mintage: 32,021
Diameter: 40.7 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 28 gm

2003 $2 Tribute to our Healthcare givers front 2003 $2 Tribute to our Healthcare givers back

The nation pays its tribute to the healthcare givers in 2003.

Most Singaporeans (and Asians) would remember the traumatic time in 2003 during the outbreak of SARS – severe acute respiratory syndrome. The first case was detected in Hong Kong and it quickly spread to many countries like wildfire within weeks.

Timeline of SARS in Singapore.

My salute to the Healthcare Givers. This coin serves as a reminder that people from Singapore can be counted upon in times of emergency. A beautiful coin indeed.

1991 $5 Civil Defence in Singapore

Issued in: 1991
Mintage: 42,801
Diameter: 38.6 mm
Composition: Copper Nickel
Weight: 20 gm

1991 Civil defense in singapore front 1991 Civil defense in singapore back

Commonly known as SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force), it is the main agency to provide emergency services in Singapore during emergency and peacetime.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about their history but having this coin gave me the chance to do a bit of research. It started out mainly as a fire committee in 1855 after a fire in Kling Street destroyed many properties. The National Civil Defence Plan was first conceived in 1982. The SCDF was officially formed after the enactment of the Civil Defence Act in 1986 and was immediately put to test when Hotel New World collapsed in the very same year.

Apart from the noble responsibilities of the organisation, it is also home to some of the coolest state-of-the-art vehicles! There is a whole list of vehicles you can find on wiki. And these bright red vehicles are very often showcased during the annual National Day Parade.

I must admit that we often take these things for granted, but having a dedicated and professional force like this makes Singapore one of the safest and most reliable places to live in.

I like the design on this coin. In the foreground, there are men hard at work with the residential buildings behind them. Noticeably, the mintage level is getting lower as we progressed beyond the 1980s into the 1990s. Possibly a sign that commemorative coin collecting was becoming less popular during those years.