Circulation Currency: Notes

Singapore's first circulation currency notes were the Orchid series notes launched in 1967. View details of each of our four series of notes up to the current Portrait series.

The Portrait Series Currency Notes (1999 - Present)

The Portrait notes are the fourth series of currency notes launched on 9 September 1999. This series has only seven denominations as the $1 and $500 denominations of the Ship series were discontinued. The Portrait series marks the first time a portrait is featured as its main design theme. The use of portraits provide an opportunity to honour national figures who have made valuable contributions to Singapore.

The portrait of Singapore's first President, the late Encik Yusof bin Ishak was chosen to honour his invaluable contributions towards nation-building.

Portraits are also used in the note design as they act as effective security features for the protection of currency notes against counterfeiting. Unlike animals or inanimate objects, the distinctive fine lines of the facial expressions on individual characters are instantly recognisable and difficult to reproduce. Any slight change i.e. a line, a dot or even a slight variation in colour when producing a portrait would alter the expression.

The front of all the notes feature the Singapore Arms, a watermark of the portrait, the Singapore Lion symbol, the word Singapore in the four official languages, as well as the signature and seal of the Chairman, Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore (BCCS) or Chairman, MAS. The back of each denomination features a unique theme based on the first President's biography. The themes are Education, Garden City, Sports, Arts, Youth, Government and Economics.

The Portrait series has to strike a balance between simplicity and clarity in design on one hand and sophistication in security features on the other. At the same time, the public-recognition security features must be effective and easy for users to recognise and remember. To help meet these requirements, a standard design approach was adopted across all denominations of the Portrait series.

MAS stopped issuing the $10,000 note since 1 October 2014, a pre-emptive move to mitigate the higher money laundering risks associated with large value cash transactions. However, existing $10,000 notes that are in circulation remain legal tender in Singapore.

Denominations

Portrait Series $2

Colour:
Purple

Size of note:
126 mm x 63 mm

First issued on:
9 September 1999 (Paper), 12 January 2006 (Polymer)

Description

The $2 note shows a group of pupils interacting with a teacher in a "Borderless Classroom". Three prominent institutions of learning are seen in the background. From the extreme right, the institutions are Victoria Bridge School, the old Raffles Institution at Bras Basah Road, and the College of Medicine. Besides being closely associated with the late Encik Yusof at various stages of his life, the three institutions also symbolically represent the ideal educational progression in Singapore, namely primary, secondary and tertiary.

Also on the front of the $2 note is the Money Cowrie (Cypraea moneta Linnaeus, 1758). As its name implies, it was commonly used as a form of currency among the communities in the Indian and Pacific Oceans during the past. Humans have carried shells of this particular species to practically all parts of the world because of their beauty and remarkable gemlike shape and handy size.

The back of the shell is usually yellow, with a fine filamentous red ring. This species is found in the shallow inter-tidal zone of rocky shores and has a wide distribution in the Indo-West Pacific region.

Portrait Series $5
portrait5series
Colour:
Green

Size of note:
133 mm x 66 mm
portrait5back
First issued on:
9 September 1999 (Paper), 18 May 2007 (Polymer)

Description

The Garden City Theme embodies Singapore's identity as a garden city, the pride of our citizens. The back of the $5 note features a dramatic Garden City landscape dominated by the portrayal of the old tembusu tree (Fagraea fragrans) which still stands on the grounds of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The majestic tree of more than 200 years is characterised by its firm and towering presence. The tree bears small red berries and has white flowers that are exceptionally fragrant. The sturdy tree, with its highly branched canopy, epitomises the spirit of Singapore - strong, resilient and continuously striving for progress.

Also pictured on the front of the $5 note is the Gold-Ringed Cowrie (Cypraea annulus Linnaeus, 1758). Like its relative, the Money Cowrie, this species is found in abundance in the inter-tidal zone of the Indo-West Pacific, usually in shallow tide pools high above water level. It is also one of the more variable species in the genus.

A typical Gold-Ringed Cowrie has a greenish-yellow back, encircled by a bright orange-yellowish band with a cream-coloured base. The egg cluster, about the size of the animal, is light cream.

Portrait Series $10

Colour:
Red

Size of note:
141mm x 69 mm

First issued on:
9 September 1999 (Paper), 4 May 2004 (Polymer)

Description

The Sports Theme is reflected in the $10 note through the depiction of five popular sports pursuits. On the back of the note, we see a jogger, a tennis player and a soccer player on one side, representing the most favoured land sports in Singapore. On the other side, swimming and sailing are pictured representing water sports. These are illustrated against a vibrant general design to convey the sense of energy and ruggedness symbolising sporting activities in general.

The note also shows the Wandering Cowrie (Cypraea errones Linnaeus, 1758). A variable member of the genus, this species is difficult to describe but easy to recognise by the mottled green top with a large, brownish and centrally located blotch. This blotch may vary in shape and size from specimen to specimen.

The cowrie's size range is between 13 and 43 mm. Having an Indo-West Pacific distribution, this animal is a shallow-water resident, found at the inter-tidal zone and down to a few metres below mean low tide level. Although its numbers have declined in Singapore, it still remains the most common cowrie here.

Portrait Series $50

Colour:
Blue

Size of note:
156 mm x 74 mm

First issued on:
9 September 1999 (Paper)

Description

As the secondary design for the $50 note, the Arts Theme reflects the coming-of-age of the Singapore Arts scene. The design appropriately depicts a mix of four ethnic musical instruments. The Chinese Pipa, Malay Kompang, Indian Veena and Classical Violin epitomise Singapore as a confluence of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The instruments are complemented by portions of two local artworks in the Singapore Art Museum, entitled "Gibbon" and "Drying Salted Fish". The works represent the development and achievements of artists in the country.

The Cylindrical Cowrie (Cypraea cylindrica) decorates the front of the $50 note. The shell of this animal is cylindrically elongated and its back is bluish grey with a large central irregular blotch. It is found widely in central Indo-West Pacific and Micronesia, ranging from Okinawa, Japan, to northwestern Australia, and from the Malay Peninsula to New Caledonia.

This species is moderately common in the inter-tidal and shallow sublittoral zones.

Portrait Series $100

Colour:
Orange

Size of note:
162 mm x 77 mm

First issued on:
9 September 1999 (Paper)

Description

The Youth Theme exemplifies the aspirations, ruggedness and community spirit of youths in Singapore. Found on the back of the $100 note, this is represented by three aspects of youth activities, namely Youth in Community Service, Youth in Action and Youth in Leadership Development. On the left of the design is a group of uniformed youths representing the Singapore Red Cross, St John's Ambulance Brigade and National Police Cadet Corps. Situated in the centre of the design is a group of scouts engaged in an outdoor scouting activity. On the right, a National Service officer bearing a ceremonial sword stands against a backdrop of the magnificent tower of the SAFTI military institute.

The $100 note also carries the picture of the Swallow Cowrie (Cypraea hirundo Linnaeus, 1758). The mollusc is found over much of the Indo-West Pacific region and usually lives on wave-beaten reefs at low tide, under coral slabs and rocks. This species was originally described from Mauritius and India with other variations reported from as far as northwestern Australia and Japan.

The shell of this animal has two distinct dark brown spots on the ends and the surface is bluish green with minute brown speckles. It is moderately common in shallow rocky habitats.

Portrait Series $1,000

Colour: 
Purple

Size of note:
170 mm x 83 mm

First issued on: 9 September 1999 (Paper)

Description

The back of the $1,000 note features buildings representing the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Istana building, the official residence of the President of Singapore, symbolises the President and the Executive. It is depicted in the centre of the design. Flanking the Istana are the Parliament House on the left and the Supreme Court building on the right. The Parliament House and the Supreme Court represent the Legislature and the Judiciary respectively.

The $1,000 note also features the Beautiful Cowrie (Cypraea pulchella Swainson, 1823). This animal was considered another of the rare gems of the genus until about 1968. The graceful pear shape, contrasting large chestnut blotches, and distinctly marked teeth make this cowrie unusually attractive. Specimens of this species are quite common and are usually found offshore from depths of 30 m to 140 m. They are found over a wide range, although most old collections were reported from the Chinese coast of Hong Kong.

Portrait Series $10,000

Colour:
Gold

Size of note:
180 mm x 90 mm


First issued on:
9 September 1999 (Paper)

Description

The back of the $10,000 note depicts the future direction of our economy - one which is knowledge-based and technology-driven. It features a research scientist working on high-technology laboratory equipment. A microprocessor and a silicon wafer, representing Singapore's drive to create a high-tech manufacturing hub, are seen in the backdrop on the left and right-hand side respectively. Partial sequences of two proteins, the tyrosine kinase and the tyrosine phosphatase, representing two important breakthroughs in research by the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), appear at the top. A subtle background pattern of the printed circuit board completes the design.

The Onyx Cowrie (Cypraea onyx Linnaeus, 1758) is also shown on the $10,000 note. The jet black base, the brown and usually banded back, and the white pearly overlay on the sides or the whole shell make identification of this species easy. The mantle of the live specimen is greyish with many tiny circular dots very closely distributed on it. A variant of this animal from Sri Lanka is reportedly considered a food item.

An Indo-West Pacific cowrie, this species has been reported from shallow muddy waters in Singapore, as well as at depths of 30 m or more in Japan.

The Ship Series Currency Notes (1984 - 1999)

As was with the previous two series, the Ship series also has nine denominations. The denominations are similar except that the previous $20 note was discontinued and a new denomination of $2 note was introduced. The pictorial and aesthetic themes of this series are based on maritime vessels and the modern development of Singapore. The front of the Ship notes depict vessels that have plied the waters of Singapore over the centuries. The series starts with the merchant craft of bygone days, and progresses to the modern bulk carrier which is featured on the highest denomination. The series pays tribute to the contributions of merchant shipping to the development of Singapore from an entrepot trading centre to one of the busiest ports in the world.

On the front, all notes have the Singapore Arms, a watermark of a lion's head and the signature and seal of Minister for Finance and Chairman of the BCCS. On the front centre panel are creatures from Chinese mythology printed in colour lithographic offset prints. Each note has a security thread embedded vertically across it.

On the reverse of the notes are scenes depicting Singapore's achievements in the fields of communication, housing, defence and port management. The orchid featured on the back of all the Ship series notes is the national flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim.

Denominations

Ship Series - $1

Colour:
Blue

Size of note:
125 mm x 63 mm

First issued on:
12 January 1987

Front design :
"Sha Chuan"

Centre panel :
A Chinese crane

Type of fish :
Cyprinus carpio or Chinese carp

Back design :
Sentosa Satellite Earth Station

Ship Series - $2

Colour:
Red; Purple

Size of note:
133 mm x 63 mm

First issued on:
28 January 1991 (Red), 16 December 1991 (Purple)


Front design :
"Tongkang"

Centre panel :
A rising sun to the right of main design

Back design :
Different ethnic groups participating in Chingay procession

Ship Series - $5

Colour: Green

Size of note: 133 mm x 63 mm

First issued on: 21 August 1989

Front design :
"Twakow"

Centre panel :
A Chinese lion with a ball

Type of fish :
Commerson's Anchovy or Stolephorus commersonii

Back design
:
View of the PSA Container Terminal

Ship Series - $10

Colour:
Red

Size of note:
141 mm x 69 mm

First issued on:
1 March 1988



Front design :
Barter trading vessel "Palari"

Centre panel :
A phoenix

Type of fish :
Round Scad or Decapterus Macrosoma

Back design :
View of public housing

Ship Series - $50

Colour:
Blue

Size of note:
156 mm x 74 mm

First issued on:
9 March 1987



Front design:
Coaster vessel "Perak"

Centre panel:
A pair of Mandarin ducks

Type of fish:
Six-banded grouper or Epinephelus Sexfasciatus (Valenciennes)

Back design:
Bird's-eye view of Benjamin Sheares Bridge

Ship Series - $100

Colour:
Brown

Size of note:
165 mm x 78 mm

First issued on:
1 August 1985

Front design :
Passenger liner "Chusan"

Centre panel:
A Chinese crane

Type of fish:
Slender shad or Ilisha elongata

Back design:
Bird's-eye view of Singapore Changi Airport

Ship Series - $500

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
175 mm x 83 mm

First issued on:
1 March 1988


Front design:
General cargo vessel "Neptune Sardonyx"

Centre panel:
A Chinese peony and a butterfly

Type of fish:
Indian Mackerel or Rastrelliger Kanagurta

Back design:
Group of men and women
from the three services of the Armed Forces
and the Civil Defence Force with the outline
map of Singapore in the background

Ship Series - $1,000

Colour:
Purple

Size of note:
185 mm x 88 mm

First issued on:
22 October 1984



Front design:
Container ship "Neptune Garnet" and two container quay cranes

Centre panel :
A stylised phoenix

Type of fish:
Polka-dot Grouper or Cromileptes Altivelis

Back design:
Bird's-eye view of a ship repair yard

Ship Series - $10,000

Colour:
Red

Size of note:
195 mm x 93 mm

First issued on:
21 August 1989



Front design:
General bulk carrier "Neptune Canopus"

Centre panel:
A Chinese dragon

Type of fish:
White Promfret or Pampus Chinesis

Back design:
1987 National Day Parade

The Bird Series Currency Notes (1976 - 1984)

This series also has nine denominations as in the first except that a $20 note was introduced to replace the $25 note of the Orchid series. The dominant feature is a bird on the left side of the front of each note. The birds depicted on the notes are noted for their strength, adaptability and independence which characterise the young Republic of Singapore with the potential of soaring to greater heights in its progress.

On the front, all notes have the Singapore Arms, a watermark of a lion's head and the signature and seal of Minister for Finance and Chairman of the BCCS. With the exception of the $1,000 and $10,000 notes which have two security threads, each note has a security thread embedded vertically across it.

Denominations

Bird Series - $1

Colour:
Blue

Size of note:
125 mm x 63 mm

First issued on:
6 August 1976


Front design:
Black-naped Tern

Back design:
National Day parade

Bird Series - $5

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
133 mm x 66 mm

First issued on:
6 August 1976


Front design :
Red-whiskered Bulbul

Back design
:
Cable cars and aerial view of the harbour

 

 

 

 


Bird Series - $10

Colour:
Red

Size of note:
141 mm x 69 mm

First issued on:
6 August 1976


Front design:
White-collared Kingfisher

Back design:
Garden city with high rise public housing in background

Bird Series - $20

Colour:
Brown

Size of note:
149 mm x 72 mm

First issued on:
6 August 1979

Front design:
Yellow-breasted Sunbird

Back design:
Changi International Airport Complex with the Concorde in the foreground                     

Bird Series - $50

Colour:
Blue

Size of note:
157 mm x 75 mm

First issued on:
6 August 1976



Front design:
White-rumped Shama

Back design:
School band on parade

Bird Series - $100

Colour:
Blue 

Size of note:

165 mm x 78 mm

First issued on:
1 February 1977



Front design:
Blue-throated Bee-eater

Back design
:
Dancers of various ethnic groups

Bird Series - $500

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
181 mm x 84 mm

First issued on:
1 February 1977


Front design :
Black-naped Oriole

Back design:
Oil refinery

Bird Series - $1,000

Colour:
Purple

Size of note:
197 mm x 90 mm

First issued on:
7 August 1978


Front design:
Brahminy Kite

Back design:
Container Terminal

Bird Series - $10,000

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
203 mm x 133 mm

First issued on:
1 February 1980


Front design:
White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Back design:
Two scenes of the Singapore River

The Orchid Series Currency Notes (1967 - 1976)

This series has nine denominations. The dominant feature is a spray of orchids in the centre of the front of each note. On the front, all notes have the Singapore Arms, a watermark of a lion's head and the signature of the Minister for Finance and Chairman of the BCCS. With the exception of the $10,000 note which has two security threads, each note has a single thread embedded vertically across the note. A scene of Singapore is depicted on the back.

Denominations

Orchid Series - $1

Colour:
Dark blue

Size of note:
121 mm x 64 mm

First issued on:

12 June 1967

 

 

 

 

Front design:
Vanda Janet Kaneali

Back design:
Blocks of flats in a housing estate

Orchid Series - $5

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
127 mm x 71 mm

First issued on:

12 June 1967

 

Front design:

Vanda T.M.A.

Back design:

A busy scene on the Singapore River



Orchid Series - $10

Colour:
Red

Size of note:
133 mm x 79 mm

First issued on:
12 June 1967

 



Front design:
Dendrobium Marjorie Ho "Tony Pek"

Back design:
Four clasped hands with the map of Singapore in the background

Orchid Series - $25

Colour:
Brown

Size of note:
140 mm x 79 mm

First issued on:
7 August 1972

Front design:
Renanthopsis Aurora

Back design
:
Supreme Court Building

 

 

Orchid Series - $50

Colour:
Blue

Size of note:
146 mm x 87 mm

First issued on:
12 June 1967



Front design:
Vanda Rothscildiana "Teo Choo Hong"

Back design:
Singapore seafront and Clifford Pier

Orchid Series - $100

Colour:
Mid-Blue and mauve

 

Size of note:
159 mm x 95 mm

 

First issued on:
12 June 1967



Front design :
Cattleya

Back design :
A peaceful scene along the Singapore waterfront

Orchid Series - $500

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
160 mm x 96 mm

First issued on:
7 August 1972



Front design:
Dendrobium Shangri-La

Back design:
Government Offices at St Andrew's Rd

Orchid Series - $1,000

Colour:
Mauve and dark grey

Size of note:
159 mm x 95 mm


First issued on:

12 June 1967



Front design:
Dendrobium Kimiyo Kondo "Chay"

Back design:
Victoria Theatre & Empress Place

Orchid Series - $10,000

Colour:
Green

Size of note:
203 mm x 133 mm


First issued on
:
29 January 1973



Front design:
Aranda Majulah

Back design:
The Istana