Straits Dollar - Banknotes - Straits Settlements Government Issues (1899 - 1942)


Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901)

The Government of Straits Settlements was first authorised to issue currency notes by Ordinance VIII of 1897, which came into operation on 31 August 1898. These notes, although dated 1 September 1898, were not issued to the public until 1 May 1899. Both the Chartered Bank and Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank continued to issue banknotes, which circulated side by side with the official currency. All notes were freely exchangeable with the Mexican dollar or the various other silver coins that were legal tender in the Colony.

King Edward VII (1901 - 1910)

King Edward ascended the throne in January 1901. In the previous issue the 5-dollar note had been of almost the same size and design as the 10-dollar. It was now reduced in size to help recognition. The series dated 1 February 1901 were printed by Thomas de la Rue & Co. Ltd. of London.

In 1903, a dollar-sized coin in silver was minted specially for the Straits Settlements, and this became the standard unit of value. All other silver dollars at that time circulation were demonetized by 1904. A step rise in the price of silver, however, soon forced the government to call int the first issue of this Straits dollar and to replace it with a coin of lower silver content.

During the change over period, fear of a shortage of coin led to the introduction of the one-dollar note, fixed at an exchange rate against gold instead of silver. To effect this, the British gold sovereign was for the first time declared legal tender, and the Straits dollar was given an arbitrary value of two shillings and four pence sterling. This dollar note proved so popular that it was retained in all future issues, so that to a very large extent it replaced the need for the silver coin.

By the end of 1906, the currency circulation had risen to $21,866,142, while that of the private banks had fallen to $1,329,052 (20th Century Impressions of British Malaya p. 138). The one-dollar notes, which were dated 1 September 1906, were printed by the London firm of Thomas de la Rue & Co. Ltd.. A five-dollar and a ten-dollar note both dated 8 June 1909, were printed Thomas de la Rue & Co. Ltd..

King George V (1910 - 1936)

During this reign the range of currency notes was extended up to one thousand dollars for the convenience of inter-bank clearing transactions. In 1915, it was decided to make a complete change in the design of the 50, 100 and 1000 dollar notes. These denominations were first issued to the public in February 1920, October 1919 and May 1917 respectively. They were printed by Thomas de la Rue. A 10,000 note was first issued in October 1922. This was not available to the public, but was used exclusively in inter-bank transfers.

King Edward VIII (1936)

No special issue of notes was made during this brief reign.

King George VI (1936 - 1952)

In September 1933, Sir Basil Blackett was appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to lead a commission to consider the participation of the various Malay States, including Brunei, in the profits and liabilities of the Straits Settlements currency. The Blackett Report recommended that the sole power of issuing currency for the area should be entrusted to a pan-Malayan Currency Commission. This recommendation was adopted by the Government of the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, Unfederated Malay States and Brunei. Legislation was enacted by the Straits Settlements Currency Ordinance (No. 23) of 1938, and ratified by the various states during 1939 and the Malayan dollar became legal tender in the Straits Settlements.

Read more about this topic:  Straits Dollar, Banknotes, Straits Settlements Government Issues (1899

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